‘The Jerk Father’ of Walthamstow who has East London’s biggest rum collection

‘The Jerk Father’ of Walthamstow who has East London’s biggest rum collection

Walking along Walthamstow’s Hoe Street, you’d be hard pressed to find a cuisine that it doesn’t cater to. From Uyghur to Turkish, Romanian to Italian, there’s a slice of all four corners of the world all in one place.

But one place that stands out is Rhythm Kitchen, with owner the ‘Jerk Father’ himself as he is known, Delroy Dixon at the helm. He has lived in Waltham Forest his entire life. With his parents moving to the East End from Jamaica in the 1950s and finding jobs at Ford in Dagenham, they worked hard to support Delroy and his six other brothers and sisters.

READ MORE: Mum-of-4 launches hugely popular Caribbean restaurant and now feeds hungry children and the homeless – for free

Inheriting his mother’s love for cooking, Delroy went on to study to become a chef at Waltham Forest College. After working as a chef for a few years at various hotels, Delroy landed a job at a TV production and worked there for 15 years.

Rhythm Kitchen keeps ties with the community by keeping money in the community and hiring local young people.

Despite enjoying his career in TV, when a new opportunity to open a restaurant at Westfield, Stratford came about, Delroy reconnected with his love for cooking and became the only independent restaurant to be granted a place in Westfield.

With so much success at Westfield, in 2018 Delroy brought the fine flavours of Rhythm Kitchen back to his home borough of Waltham Forest on Hoe Street in Walthamstow, which now houses the biggest rum collection in East London. With such success in Walthamstow, one Tripadvisor user said their dinner was ‘the best Caribbean/jerk we’ve experienced in the UK’, MyLondon sat down with Delroy to find out more about his experience in Walthamstow.

“So this restaurant opened in 2018 and that was a challenge in itself because Walthamstow, even though it’s an up and coming area, it’s not as affluent as other areas There’s not as many local businesses to support other businesses during the lunch time period. So that was difficult; getting embedded in the local community and being a Caribbean restaurant on the high street.”

With only being in the area for a few years, the pandemic raised one of the biggest challenges for the ‘Jerk Father’s’ business. “Covid in one sense for me had a negative effect and a positive effect,” he said. “The negative effect was that nobody was coming out to eat, so we had to change how we run our business.

0 Rum from Rhythm Kitchen

“The positive effect was that we then opened during the pandemic and we got a much better response from the local community, so we managed to embed ourselves in the community much more than we was before.

“But what Covid has done for us is bring the local community together. The council has been very helpful in regards to promoting local businesses which helped me a lot and we got full support from the people of Walthamstow.”

Support from locals is to be expected as Delroy has been involved in a number of community projects. “I gave a talk to one of the local social services for kids who may have been expelled. They brought them in and I gave a talk of how I started, what I did before this. There’s a local activist I’m involved with as much as he wants me to be.

“He runs Project Zero – Stephen Barnabis. He used to run a project over in Wood Street. I’ve done some work with him and I’m doing more soon. I’ll probably give a talk and just give positive affirmations to young kids. During Covid we were also doing some cooking for a local food bank over in Wood Street.”

Delroy plans on getting Rhythm Kitchen even more involved in community projects in the coming years. He said: “It may not be me, but Rhythm Kitchen will definitely get involved with more local projects.

“Going forward we plan on using the space slightly differently. If there are any projects that want our space to use during our quiet times we can offer our space to them.”

Being an independent business Delroy keeps good ties with the community by keeping money in the community, hiring local young people and working with family: “We try to employ as many local people as possible. My sister works here, my niece and other staff who are local in the borough.”

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Being home to the biggest rum collection in East London, it’s a wonder how he manages to pull off such a huge body of rums while serving up such delicious food.

“I went to the shop and bought them,” he laughed. “No, I like rum, so when we decided to open this branch, one of the USPs I wanted to establish was that we are a rum bar. So when we first opened we started with about 70 rums. Some are fairly well known, some are a bit more obscure. As the restaurant’s gone on, if I see a rum, I just think I’ll add that to the collection.

“So now we have approximately 150 rums. My go-to rum would be an Angostura or an 1824 which is from Trinidad – it’s a very smooth, refined rum.”

Rhythm Kitchen also holds a Rum Club once a month on a Monday where they bring in various suppliers and lovers of rum who can purchase tickets, try the different rums, fill their bellies with food provided and learn more about the history of rum. All for only £25.

With plans of expansion and further involvement in local community projects, Rhythm Kitchen is quickly becoming a household name for Caribbean food in East London.

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