Once you speak to Theresa Roberts, you will want to start up your own business. Theresa has everything sorted out; loving husband, beautiful children and grandchildren, unwavering pride for her country and a successful business where she gets to do what she loves every day. We sat down with Theresa to talk food, family and bad reputations.
BB: Why did you decide to start up Jamaican Patty Co?
TR: I started JPC because I was not satisfied with the quality of patties I could find in London. Jamaican food deserves to be made with good quality ingredients and presented in a modern, branded way.
BB: How are people reacting to Jamaican Patty Co?
TR: The reaction has been very positive. The support of the Jamaican Diaspora has been amazing and very emotional for me. I am also delighted that a large number of non Jamaicans who had never tasted a patty before have become regular customers.
BB: The Jamaican food and restaurant industry has a terrible rep in the UK. What do you think about this stigma? Do you think it's fair?
TR: Like all reputations, I think there is an element of truth in the way Jamaican restaurants are perceived. Of course, there are a lot of very good operations, but once people perceive things in a certain way it is very difficult to convince them otherwise. One of the aims and challenges of JPC is to challenge the stereotypes that exist around Jamaica and Jamaican restaurants.
BB: How do you see the future of Jamaican food and cuisine in the UK?
TR: We have big plans, so hopefully very bright!
BB: When you started JPC, what was the no 1 thing you did to grow the business?
TR: Getting people to taste the food. 90% of the people who pass the store have never eaten Jamaican food and have no idea what a patty is.
BB: Could you tell us about a typical working Monday?
TR: I get up at around 6 o'clock to cook my Jamaican chicken and dumpling soup, because I won’t let anyone else make my soup! Then at about 9 o’clock I get on the computer and check all my e-mails with my first cup of Blue Mountain Coffee. I have my coffee with black grapes or a banana for breakfast.
I’ll reply to emails about Jamaican Patty Co and my Jamaican Art Collective, Art Jamaica. I will also reply to e-mails about the house I built in Jamaica, it’s called Hanover Grange. Google it! I built that house and it was the first thing I did for my country that sparked my addiction to supporting my home. I thought you know what, Jamaica is beautiful and I’m going to tell the world! I can’t wait to go back; you wake up and look outside to the blue waters, green vegetation and beautiful sun! Oh darling, can you imagine!
At 9.30, I’ll watch the news. I watch all the international news because I feel I get a wider perspective of what is happening in the world, rather than just watching British news channels. So I watch Al Jazeera, Western News and French News. I’m very political and I like to know what is going on in the world.