Who We Are
Native to Jamaica, Jerk is a style of cooking in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet-marinated with a spicy, proprietary mix of Jamaican jerk rub and seasoning, then smoked and grilled to lock in the flavor to delicious perfection.
We marinate choice cuts of meat in our proprietary seasoning, sometimes creating perforations to allow the flavors to soak down through the fibers and into the bone. Then we smoke it in an infusion of charcoal and pimento wood flown in from Jamaica. With the outside charred, we turn to the inside, lowering the heat to coax out its juicy tenderness. Once the flavors are locked, it’s time to sauce it.
Our sauce is a little bit sweet and little bit spicy, cause spice is the key to life, right? But don’t worry; we tone it, introducing heat in varying degrees to suit everyone’s palate and needs. Last, we chop our meat into small pieces so as not to overflood your belly with pure Jamaican goodness all at once…. until you ask for more.
HISTORY OF JERK
Jerk goes back to the African way of preserving meat. The process of seasoning and smoking the meat was used by the slaves in Jamaica when they didn’t have cold storage capabilities.
Still done in Jamaica today, some call it “pan chicken” or “street food.” On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, go down any road, in any parish, in any city, and all over the countryside, and you’ll find multiple vendors grilling jerk in drum pans made from barrels that are split down the center and shaped into a grill.
Jerk Shack is inspired from a Friday night tradition we had growing up in my hometown, Kingston, Jamaica. When my dad gave me money, I’d gather up my cousins, friends or neighbors to walk down to a specific shack where all they produced was jerk food: chicken or pork.
The walk was a big part of the experience; catching up, joking around, laughing, and discussing what we were going to order. We looked forward to seeing people we knew cause it was a meeting place. The closer we got, we could see a line of people waiting and the spicy aroma filled the air, doubling our anticipation. The meat came wrapped in aluminum foil and was served with fresh bread to cool the spices dancing in our mouths.
But nowhere does Jamaican culture come to life more than in our street parties. With speakers set up in the middle of the road, the party starts late and we dance all night, enjoying chill vibes and great energy with friends and family. As the sun begins to rise, you can catch the scent of warm jerk chicken wafting through the crowd. Before heading home, we’d stop by the vendor to pick up that spicy chicken to wake up our senses and a fresh, cold beer to wash it down.
Jerk is an experience. It’s part of our Jamaican culture, our community, and our way of life all the way through. If you haven’t yet had the chance to visit our far away little island, let us bring our great Jamaican energy to you and your loved ones. We promise, once you get a taste of Jamaica, you’ll be coming back for more.
Shaun’s mad kitchen skills might be rooted in his very DNA. His mother, considered by all to be an excellent cook, served as a chef in multiple restaurants in Kingston, Jamaica. But it took an unstoppable craving for Jamaican curry chicken one day when Shaun was 16 to ignite his interest in cooking. Faced with a raw bird and not enough know-how, Shaun called up his mom for step-by-step guidance. When she gave his dish the ultimate taste test, the look on her face conveyed his success. With her seal of approval, Shaun’s culinary journey began.
Following high school, Shaun left Kingston for NYC where he met his wife-to-be, Myisha. He received a BS in Business Administration in 2008, and joined the army in 2010. Eight years, eight states, and one stint in Korea later, Myisha landed a position as a Nurse Practitioner at UC Davis Medical Center, bringing the family to Sacramento.
Shaun in turn served his last active duty assignment in Fort Irwin, California.
In between trips back to Sac to see his family, Shaun wowed the soldiers with his authentic Jamaican cooking. The troops’ rave reviews combined with his mother’s encouragement acted as the catalyst Shaun needed to take the plunge and draw up a business plan. He returned to Sacramento full time, and launched Jerk Shack in 2021. In addition to being a co-owner, Myisha is his number one consultant and personal food taster. In fact, all of Shaun’s proprietary recipes are tailored to his wife’s taste buds. “I know she loves good food, so I trust her opinion!” To see Shaun and Myisha serving up their good grub to the locals, click on the gallery tab.