Black History Makers: Caribbean heritage preserved as Rudie’s Jerk Shack expands

Matin and Michelle Miah

Matin and Michelle Miah at the Brixton branch of Rudie's Jerk Shack - Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave Photography

A couple behind Rudie’s Jerk Shack in Shoreditch have their sights set on bringing a taste of Caribbean heritage to Londoners. 

On the back of opening their seventh eatery in the capital - this time in Hawley Wharf, Camden - Matin and Michelle Miah are keen to spread the flavours far and wide.

With its rum cocktails and traditional Jamaican street food dishes, where meat is marinated for at least 24 hours, Rudie’s Shack  adds to the diversity of north London.

The couple, who opened their first shack in 2015, revealed that the experience and perception of Caribbean food were central to developing the restaurant’s ambience.

Michelle reflects on her family history.

Michelle reflects on her family history. - Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave Photography

Matin, 48, said: “We opened Jerk Shack partly because of the lack of good quality Jamaican cuisine offered in London.

“It's lovely that now Jamaican restaurants can operate and not only just appeal to the Caribbean community. 

“But from day one we have been on a mission to reverse the trend of gentrification happening in places with a historically large Afro-Caribbean ethnic community.”

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Michelle, 45, said when growing, up her parents, who emigrated from Jamaica to the UK in the 1950s, encouraged in their children a love for Afro-Caribbean culture.  

“We spent a lot of summer holidays in Jamaica,” she said. “And now it’s like a home from home.” 

In years to come, Michelle would travel across Jamaica with Matin to search for new flavours.

Michelle and Matin Miah at the Brixton branch of Rudie's

Michelle and Matin Miah at the Brixton branch of Rudie's - Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave Photography

“We really wanted to bring some of that island flavour back to the UK,” Michelle said.  “It’s up to us to continue making sure that we keep these traditions. Both food and music are things that connect us to our heritage and make people feel happy and included.”

Speaking about the importance of her background, Michelle added: “I love my culture and I love everything about being from the Caribbean.

“I think about my parent’s journey, and I get emotional. What is important to me now is to make sure that the generations to come are still able to hold onto their heritage and their backgrounds. 

“Nowadays, young people from our backgrounds can sometimes feel a little bit lost so it’s important for me to be a role model and do things that will encourage others.

“I’m putting myself at the forefront to show young people that all these things I’m doing are possible for them too.”

Rudie’s Shack can be found on Instagram @rudieslondon.

This article is part of a series on Black History Makers. For more features, see the November 9 edition of the Hackney or Islington Gazette.  

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