Chris Williams: How has your Caribbean heritage influenced your restaurant and the food you serve?
Chef Simpson: My Caribbean heritage background has a lot to do with my restaurant, the food, the culture and the vibes, and the people from different parts of the diaspora. It’s kind of like out of many one people the extended version. Growing up in Jamaica I’ve learned to cook at a tender age that makes it so easy to understand spices and flavor.
How do you ensure the authenticity of your dishes while appealing to the diverse palette of New Yorkers?
Chef Simpson: To ensure that the authentic flavor of all my dishes is consistent me and my management team do daily tastings to make sure everything is representing the Jamaican flavor to the best at all times and everyone who comes to the restaurant raves about the food.
What are the challenges and rewards of operating a restaurant that features Caribbean cuisine in the heart of Brooklyn?
Chef Simpson: Being in the hospitality business is not easy. Finding great staff to be as passionate about your dream as you are, is not easy, especially while trying to provide the best service and food at all times. Sometimes you’re going to hit and miss but you learn and keep it moving providing the best service to your customers.
How do you source ingredients for your restaurant to maintain quality and freshness?
Chef Simpson: Most of my ingredients comes from local markets for fresh produce and also the Jamaican markets for my spice and seasonings. I also use the walkers wood jerk season and you can find the breadfruit along with Bammy.
Are there any family recipes or traditions that you have incorporated into your menu?
Chef Simpson: A few of my dishes are some of my favorites from my Brown stew red snapper along with coconut curry salmon and coconut curry lobster and my jerk shrimp, and our famous walkers wood with pimento jerk chicken.
How do you navigate the competitive restaurant industry in Brooklyn and New York City as a whole?
Chef Simpson: Opening a restaurant in New York is very challenging as there are so many restaurants all around, but it’s all about being consistent and having great food, a great management team, and understanding your business in and out, staying on top of your operation, your payroll and full cost and cutting your expenses when possible. It’s not just making great food, as an owner there’s a lot you have to stay on top of.
How have you adapted your restaurant to the changing needs of customers, especially considering recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic?
Chef Simpson: The pandemic was rough and we have learned a lot how to navigate getting back to reality. There’re still some people who are being very careful, still wearing their masks and we have to be understanding and work with them the best that we can. I am very fortunate and blessed to still be here after the pandemic. We were all on pins and needles and lost so many people I pray for their families and for strength.
What role does your restaurant play in the local community?
Chef Simpson: The role of my restaurant play in the community is very important, The community was very welcome in to The Simpson restaurant and bar they love the restaurant and they love the food since it’s right across the road from the Barclays center people will come and grab a bite before they head to the show and the local community will come out for dinner each night and have fun sitting at the bar listening to great music while interacting with friends and family.
How do you balance preserving traditional Caribbean cooking methods and tastes with the need for innovation in a modern restaurant?
Chef Simpson: This is very simple my Jamaican background will always allow me to be creative in the kitchen to always put a twist to something, for example, my jerk oxtail over five cheese macaroni and cheese is one of the crowd’s favorite.
As a black restaurant owner, what advice would you give to other aspiring black entrepreneurs in the food industry?
Chef Simpson: Being a black owned restaurant is very challenging as we face multiple obstacle and we have to work harder not to mess up so you have to stay on top of your business at all time on turn. The best advice I can give is to believe in yourself never give up on your dreams and your ambition no matter how many obstacle comes in your way always try to push through. there’s always something to learn no matter how bad is the situation try to learn something from it to make you stronger wiser and smarter. surround yourself with good people who want to see you win likewise you want the same for them.
What steps are you taking to make your restaurant sustainable and environmentally friendly?
Chef Simpson: I try to stay on top of my restaurant as best as I can in all aspect of the business to ensure my staff is given the best service and customers are having a great time and the food is on point.
What are your future plans for your restaurant? Can we expect any new concepts or expansions?
Chef Simpson: My future plans for the Simpson restaurant and bar, I am presently working on my Miami location and my plan is to have one location per state my next location after Miami will be Atlanta, Georgia, just like how you have Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, Red Lobster and many more you will also have The Simpson.