I started watching Chef Jenn’s cooking class videos about a month ago when she was featured in Orlando Weekly’s “20 Female-Owned Restaurants You Should Have Tried By Now.” I was immediately pulled in by her stories of Jamaican cuisine, her culinary teaching skills that were practically maternal in nature, her humility, her smile, and her trademark pet name for all her loyal customers, “dahling.”
The Jamaican born chef is better known as the “Happy, Irie Vegan” and puts forth love, experience, and charm into each of her dishes. We communicated via e-mail and her pure kindness leapt off the screen.
Dajen Eats Cafe and Creamery is located unassumingly in a Citgo station on OBT, a place I’d admittedly never expect to find vegan cuisine. The menu is small which means each of the dishes have been perfected and receive the utmost attention. According to social media, the Chik’n Biscuit Sammy and the cauliflower bites are a big hit with customers and sell out fast. I was thrilled to create my own bowl of rainbow broccoli salad, brilliantly seasoned rice, and Jerk Chik’n. The meal is topped off with a delicious sweet sauce and grilled pineapple, with a lemon wedge for extra zest. The salad was crunchy and crisp and the pineapple, a beautifully charred complement to the savory and sweet entree. So many golden textures and rich flavors- none of which were rubbery or fake as this non-vegan might presume them to be.
The experience was capped off with the real star of the show: Chef Jenn’s Famous Irie Cream, a non-dairy ice cream. I got a small batch of the cookies and cream. It was given to me free of charge by the staff (Lonnie, Sotoria, & Kim) who mirrored Jenn’s sweetness in their charm and “baby” pet names. It felt like being served up in a home kitchen: familiar, handled with care, delicious.
No doubt, the food and sweetness has proven itself to the community. The restaurant will be moving to a larger establishment in Eatonville in the coming months where it promises an expanded menu and more seating. I can’t wait to get back to enjoy more Jamaican delicacies by the one and only, Chef Jenn.