Jamaican chef opens Fort Greene restaurant thanks to public housing program

He’s Jamaican it!

A Jamaica-born Brooklyn chef who was once told he might never walk again is not only cruising around the kitchen again, he just achieved his dream of opening his own eatery, unlocking the doors to an island grill in Fort Greene last week.

“I knew from the first day I started in the culinary field I always wanted to open my own restaurant,” said Canarsie resident Lancelot Brown, who is now the proud owner of Jamaica Grill on Myrtle Avenue between Hall Street and Washington Avenue. “It’s one of the dreams I wanted to accomplish and accomplishing it is a momentous achievement for me.”

Brown — who moved to a public housing complex in Canarsie from Jamaica 19 years ago — has two culinary degrees, and has worked in eateries across the island and the Big Apple.

But Brown’s goal of commanding his own kitchen was nearly sliced and diced when he broke his back in a 2004 accident, and doctors told him he might never be able to stand in front of a stove again.

Brown refused to take the prognosis lying down, however, and after years of physical therapy, he was back on his feet and aiming to make it big.

“I wanted to do something more, because I knew I could do more,” he said.

He enrolled in the inaugural class of New York City Housing Authority’s Food Business Pathways program, where he learned how to run a business and got help securing the permits he needed to open Jamaica Grill.

At his new eatery, Brown is serving up dishes from his home country that he said are rarely done well in the concrete jungle.

“It’s one of those cuisines that you either have to go to Jamaica to have it or find somewhere that prepares it really well,” he said.

Brown said diners go wild for his vegetarian pasta, made with jerk-spiced butter and tofu — a recipe he created himself — as well as more traditional Caribbean fare such as jerk chicken and curried goat.

Taste it for yourself at Jamaica Grill [474 Myrtle Ave. between Hall Street and Washington Avenue, (718) 272–6382, www.jamaicagrill.net].

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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