Writer / Seth Johnson Photographer / Eli Beaverson
There’s an art to crafting the perfect Jamaican patty, and it’s an art that Eldon Chuck, owner of Jamaican Reggae Grill in Carmel, has mastered.
“Our Jamaican patties are some of the best you can find in the U.S.,” Chuck says. “Coming from Jamaica and eating more patties than most people would ever eat in 10 lifetimes, you get the idea that a patty is basically a combination of two things. It’s the outer crust and the meat filling.”
Chuck opened the eatery in April of 2015 and has been serving up delicious Jamaican cuisine ever since. In addition to beef, chicken and vegetable patties, the quick-service restaurant also specializes in other traditional Jamaican dishes, including jerk chicken, jerk pork, curried goat and more.
A native of Jamaica, Chuck grew up learning in the kitchen from his grandmother, who would regularly cook meals for workers at a nearby banana inspection plant.
“At the time I didn’t know what the term meant, but maybe I was her assistant sous-chef,” he says with a laugh. “I’d help her do different things – peeling bananas, peeling yams, cooking rice, cutting up chicken or beef.”
As he grew older, Chuck continued his cooking pursuits. Part of this journey meant learning how to make the perfect Jamaican patty.
“In Jamaica, there are only two major companies that make these patties and ship them all over the island, so they’re very difficult to make,” he says. “I’m actually an acquaintance of those two owners, and I even approached them through an intermediary to see if they would teach me how to make them, but they basically said no.”
Chuck eventually connected with a Jamaican patty expert in Canada who was able to show him the ropes.
“I found a friend of mine in Canada who is very familiar with making patties and actually started a couple patty places in Canada that were very successful,” Chuck says. “He agreed to teach me, so I went up there and spent three months with him.”
After working in the consumer electronics business for several years, Chuck and his family eventually moved to Carmel, where he decided to start Jamaican Reggae Grill in his retirement.
“Naturally, you’d tend to think that maybe we should put it some place like Broad Ripple, somewhere closer to Butler or IUPUI, or maybe downtown,” Chuck says.“We decided to take the plunge and do it in Carmel, and we don’t regret it. We’ve attracted a very diverse crowd from outside of Carmel, in addition to building a very strong base in Carmel as well.”
While not everyone is familiar with Jamaican cuisine, Chuck says most customers come back after giving it a try.
“The repeat customer base is very, very strong,” he says. “Even after six years, we’re still gaining new customers almost every day. Carmel has been very good to us, and I think we’ve also served the community very well.”
Jamaican Reggae Grill is located at 622 South Rangeline Road in Carmel. For more information, call 317-663-7630 and visit jamaicanreggaegrill.com.