At age nine, Julius Jackson decided he wanted to cook.
“I would stand under my mom or aunts and wait for the food to be ready but I didn’t like being hungry, a pet peeve of mine is having my stomach growl, so I started cooking myself,” said Jackson, now 30 and with a new cookbook, “My Modern Caribbean Kitchen.”
The 176-page book includes 70 original recipes that Jackson says are favorites of his native St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
He has favorites like, “My Mama’s Banana Fritters,” “Granny’s Potato Stuffing,” and “Jackson Clan Red Pea Soup.”
“I was told that I was documenting Virgin Islands history because almost no one put recipes down [on paper] or a book and these are important meals,” he said, adding that, “We cook to survive in the Caribbean, cook to eat.”
A professional boxer, whose father Julius “The Hawk” Jackson is a three-time world champion and boxing hall of famer, Jackson counts as a chef, author, model and actor. He’s appeared on the Telemundo series, “El Cesar,” which is based on the life of the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez.
Jackson also serves as head chef and manager of “My Brother’s Workshop Bakery and Café, where he and others turned the shop into a place for where recent hurricane victims could get free hot meals.
“I’ve been talking about a new book, something about surviving the two category five hurricanes … a Hurricane Cookbook,” he said. “After the storm, we worked with the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and some private donors and they brought in some stuff like canned meat, Vienna sausages and we turned them into hot meals for everyone.”
While the new book is in the early planning stages, his first has received a lot of attention. The publishers say that in the exciting collection, Jackson takes the dishes he grew up with and applies his own culinary fair so you can craft home-cooked meals bursting with the distinct spices and tasty ingredients the Caribbean is known for.
Fantastic, tropical favor is easy to achieve— start the day off with Island-Style Farina for a classic Caribbean morning.
No-Mess Curry Chicken is an easy meal that packs a tasty punch, and One-Pot Wonder Chicken and Rice is a crowd pleaser.
Tangy Creole Fish is crisp and fresh, while pan-fried plantains can be enjoyed anytime throughout the day. Infused with Jackson’s experiences of island life, these recipes are the perfect blend of traditional cuisine, unexpected twists and unforgettable favor, according to Amazon.com.
“I’m often asked about my personal favorites. My stewed chicken is a knockout,” Jackson said. “I made that on the Cooking Channel. Another that made the book is Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Fritters, made with calabaza pumpkins, so sweet and savory.”
He says he loves making food that’s “different.”
“I’m always looking for something new to make,” Jackson said.
He credits photographer Jennifer Bloom with helping him with the new book.
“She’s followed my career since the Olympics and she’s also a food photographer. She reached out to me on Twitter and said, ‘hey, you should do a cookbook,’” Jackson said.
And, it’s been a tasty partnership ever since.
“Since I was nine when I fried chicken for my brothers and sisters and I watched them eat it and the smiles on their faces, this is what I knew I wanted to do,” Jackson said.