On Dec. 8, 2018 Jamaican Patty Shack food truck owners, Michael Thompson and Wendy Wright, introduced a piece of the island to the Hamilton Farmers’ Market. Driven by the positive responses to their twists on classic beef patties, the couple decided to set up shop in a permanent location.
Thompson and Wright started the Jamaican Patty Shack food truck in July 2018 at the Because Beer Craft Beer Festival. The idea had been in their heads for a long time after the Jamaican couple had noticed a lack of availability of patties in the Hamilton area.
Since establishing the food truck, the couple has garnered public recognition that has drawn individuals from far and wide to taste their patties. They recently had a woman from Toronto come to the Hamilton Farmers’ Market simply to have their patties. When they visited Toronto for the Mac & Cheese Festival and Buskerfest last year, they were also invited to Toronto city hall by mayor John Tory.
[spacer height="20px"]The two have been involved in both culinary arts and customer service for a while, having done catering previously. Thompson traces his interest in food service back to his teenage years, working as a manager in Dairy Queen and in a West Indian restaurant called Willie’s Jerk. Wright is a baker and previously worked in a food truck in Toronto. By putting their heads together, the two came up with the idea of a Jamaican patty food truck.
“It's for people on the go. It's fast. It's affordable. Our main aim… was to feed people on the go [for] ten dollars and under [so it’s] easy on the pocket,” said Thompson.
It’s not only the affordability of the patties that has contributed to its wide appeal but the customizability and variety that the Jamaican Patty Shack offers. This is not simply a spot for the traditional beef patty. Customers can top up their patty according to their own taste, adding ingredients such as cheese or jerk chicken or having their patty wrapped, stuffed, or grilled.
[spacer height="20px"]Both out-of-the-box thinkers, the couple is continuously experimenting at home with different flavours. The result is a number of unique twists, such the pattaco — a patty dressed up as a taco — or the reggae patty which is cut open and filled with jerk chicken coleslaw. With their innovations on a traditional recipe, the couple honours the history of the patty.
“Our main slogan is ‘Out of Many, One Patty’ and that's… because of the Jamaican coat of arms which is ‘Out of Many, One People’ and so a lot of different cultures is what comes together to make Jamaica… [T]he patty has evolved from different cultures,” said Thompson.
By setting up shop in the Farmers’ Market, the couple also honours the market tradition in Jamaica. Providing fresh and quality food is important to the duo so they utilize produce from local farmers in their patties.
[spacer height="20px"]Setting up in the market also places Jamaican Patty Shack in the city they love and live in. Since coming to the Farmers’ Market, the Stoney Creek residents have discovered something of a family among the friendly and supportive market crowd. Being able to have personable and meaningful interactions with the members of the community they interact with every day was key to them.
“We want customers to feel happy to come and excited about coming to our spot… We're trying to recreate that little piece of vacation that people have in their mind or in their memories so they come and we have a lit palm tree in the back, some reggae music playing and the service is always positive,” said Wright.
Looking to the future, Thompson and Wright hope to have pop-up shops on the outskirts of Hamilton. They are also looking into donating food to local food banks at the end of the day in order to give back to the community which has supported them as they have established their truck and taken root in the Hamilton Farmers’ Market.
There are few things more satisfying than an ice cold glass of beer after a long day of work. Beer drinkers can range from those who like a casual glass of beer to commence the weekend to beer aficionados who can name the type of beer from a single sip. No matter what side of the spectrum you land on, all journeys towards loving beer start with a single sip. The Because Beer festival that is coming to Hamilton’s Pier 4 Park on Friday, July 11 and Saturday, 12 aims to provide a means for people to discover some of the good craft beer from over twenty-five breweries that Ontario has to offer.
Because of the volume of beer that will be available at the festival, I sampled a few beers from some of the breweries that will be in attendance in hopes of providing you with a cheat sheet of what I thought were the best beers from each of the breweries sampled.
Collective Arts Brewing
Best beer: Rhyme & Reason : 4.75/5
Collective Arts Brewing merges art with beer as each label uses art from local artists. Each bottle is uniquely designed and artists are able to submit their work to the brewery in hopes that it will end up in a beautiful six pack. The fusion of art and beer gives this beer the advantage but does not overshadow the crisp flavour of the beer. Rhyme and Reason is full of hops and has a citrus and pine flavour to it and is on the lighter side. The aftertaste is complimentary and not overwhelming, making this beer the perfect evening beer.
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company
Best beer: Lug Tread Lagered Ale : 3/5
Beau’s bottles are slightly smaller than a two-six, coming in at 600ml and have very attractive labels. I was very close to picking The Tom Green Beer simple for the fact that it exists, but one sip of the Lug Tread had me convinced instantly. Lug Tread is flavourful, crisp, and medium bodied, starting with a sweet taste and ending with a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. This beer reminds me of summer, but overall, it’s lacking that bit of specialty that would bring it to the top of micro-brews in the province.
Great Lakes Brewery
Best beer: Thrust! An IPA : 4/5
With an attractive label that features a rocket ship, Thrust! An IPA quickly caught my attention. Often times the packaging doesn’t live up to the content but unlike that guy from the bar, Thrust! An IPA was as smooth as it was attractive. The India Pale Ale is honey-like in colour with a citrus flavour that compliments the slight grapefruit bitterness to it. Filled with citrus hops, but not in a way that’s overwhelming.
Best beer: Amsterdam Natural Blonde Lager : 4.5/5
This common beer is often in local watering holes, but is still one of my favourites. It is crisp, and unique in flavour. This beer is great for all-year drinking but especially lovely in the summer. Amsterdam Blonde is pleasantly fragrant and has a light fruit flavour. This beer is simple yet satisfying and keeps me coming back for more.
Best beer: Special Pale Ale : 2.5/5
At first sip, the beer tasted like nothing special but overall drinkable. The more I drank, the more bored I got. The amount of hops make the Special Pale Ale overwhelming and not in the good way. It tastes of malt caramel and is slightly creamy, which sounds like it would make a fantastic beer, however, Wellington’s Special Pale Ale left something to be desired. I would drink this beer if looking for something outside of PBR or Bud Light but for anyone who likes smooth, crisp, beer, this wouldn’t be my first, or even fourth choice. I didn’t even finish it, which says a lot.
Grand River Brewing
Best beer: Curmudgeon IPA : 3/5
This copper coloured beer is flavourful, however, it’s maltiness is a little too much for me. There is a bitter aftertaste that I can see as being pleasant, but is just slightly overwhelming for me. The slight caramel taste and hint of fruit flavours are redeeming factors and kept me sipping for longer than I thought I would. Overall, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this, but I can see the appeal.
Double Trouble Brewing Co.
Best beer: Prison Break Breakout Pilsner : 3/5
Double Trouble Brewing Co. has cleverly titled beer including, Hops and Robbers and Fire in the Rye but the standout beer for me was the Prison Break Breakout Pilsner. The blue can had entertaining illustrations and the deep but subtle hops give the dark gold beer extra body. Unfortunately, the illustrations on the can is the best part of the beer as it is quite filling making the last half of the beer hard to drink.
I suggest you make your way down to Pier 4 Park on July 11 to make your own conclusions about the best craft beers. For those who are new to the sport of beer drinking, there will also be informative sessions including how to master a perfect pour, how to pair food and beer, and how to tell good beer from bad beer. Additionally, music and food are the perfect compliments to a weekend of great beer, so there will be musical entertainment and over ten Hamilton food trucks at the festival. Entry to the Because Beer festival is forty dollars for the entire weekend or twenty-five dollars per day, which includes a tasting mug and four craft beer samples for one day or ten craft beer samples for the weekend. Drinking beer is an art form, one that I will hope to perfect during Because Beer.