Jamaican beef, jerk chicken, and top-notch patties in a parking lot
I first spotted the trailer at an arts and culture festival outside of Boston. There wasn’t much actual culture going on otherwise, but from my first taste of one of the bowls cooked by Work Hard Eat Good, I knew that my time was well spent. Their Jamaican-style BBQ beef with veggies and Cajun seasoning hit the spot. I needed to know more about where this food came from.
Jabriel, the hard-working chef behind the good eats, is the son of Jamaican immigrants. Raised in Dorchester, his parents ran a seafood restaurant. He’s a lifer in the food biz, but says having a food trailer wasn’t his first career idea. He worked cooking gigs along the way, but only after “trying practically every job there is” did his path lead him to mobile food service.
About 10 years ago, along with his business and life partner Shavonda, Jabriel started taking small catering jobs. To make things legit, his team began cooking out of a rented commercial kitchen inside a VFW hall in Medford, where they still operate today.
After a few years and some steady business, they bought their little trailer. Different from a food truck, the Work Hard Eat Good unit is simple, basically a window just for serving. All cooking is done off site; food is kept hot on a steam table or cold in a small fridge.
Even before you taste his beef patties or jerk chicken, Jabriel’s truck stands out, with pictures of Caribbean bites to get your mouth watering. My beef was extremely tender, the rice fluffy and well seasoned. It was uncomplicated, somehow feeling like a home-cooked meal. On site, they also offer assorted jerk dishes and fresh veggies; once you get into their catering menu, though, the options are more extensive—tofu, sausage, West Indian specialties, the works.
And you don’t have to randomly find them in a parking lot. Jabriel and Shavonda cater parties, and on weekdays bring their operation to spots all around the city. Check their website for daily updates, and be on the lookout for this little trailer that could.
Danielle is a lifelong food service worker, bartender, and lover of food who is based in the South Shore of Massachusetts.