Street Eatin'

Truck Stop: Michael Cunningham of the Jerk Station

The Nashville native tells us what to eat at his new Caribbean cruiser.

By Christopher Werner March 15, 2012

A Jerk Station Jamaican patty. Photo courtesy Michael Cunningham.

Seattle’s curbside cooks are an eclectic bunch, dabbling in far-flung flavors and underrepresented cuisines. One such example is Michael Cunningham.

The Nashville native is relatively new to the street scene but he’s been cooking Caribbean for years. While still working for Boeing he attended culinary school at Southcenter’s Kitchen Academy, now Le Cordon Bleu; then Cunningham launched a catering company specializing in Caribbean fare with Creole flair.

After a brief stint doing lunchtime delivery Cunningham was anxious to reach more people, which led him to launch the Jerk Station. "I began researching better opportunities to get the food out of the kitchen and to the hungry people. As I continued to research I realized a truck would be a great opportunity to showcase my food to the masses."

Here, Cunningham pulls over for a few questions.

What items sells out first? The Jamaican patties are a huge seller. I make eight different types and carry three to four on the truck. The Cubano cheesesteak, Caribbean smoked turkey melt, and of course the jerk chicken.

What else should I try? The oxtails with rice and peas. It is a very traditional dish and has a good level of spice to it without being overly spicy. A new item which is showing great promise is the Puerto Rican crab cake sliders. We use crab meat folded into pureed plantains, sofrito, onions, and bread crumbs then grill them.

Where do your recipes come from? Some are original creations while others are adaptations of other recipes.

What item will you never reveal the recipe for? The complete recipe for my jerk marinade. It is the cornerstone of a lot of different menu items.

Any aspirations to expand or go brick-and-mortar? At the moment all of my attention is on the success of the Jerk Station. I am not opposed to opening a small restaurant or café if the opportunity presents itself. I definitely feel like there is room for growth of Caribbean cuisine in Seattle.

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