492 New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland
Photo Credit – Sarah Tuck – Editor
15 Sep 2022
When you enter Nanny’s Eatery, you’ re hit with a haze of barbecue spice. It’s bright and warm, the convivial tumble of tables is arranged with a tantalising view of the large open kitchen and if you’re lucky, there may even be a local DJ playing.
Owners JP Porteous and Ange Clarke have been running the community-focused restaurant since late last year, bringing a taste of the Caribbean to the busy Kingsland restaurant strip.
But the Nanny’s story begins further back.
JP, who came to New Zealand from Kingston, Jamaica, in 2001, began his cooking career flipping burgers at Burger Wisconsin at the age of 15. He originally started Nanny’s as a
food truck in Wellington, selling first Jamaican specialties and then burgers with a Jamaican twist, but he always kept the dream alive of having a Jamaican restaurant. When he met Ange, who is originally from England and has a corporate background, they hunted far and wide for a space and decided on Kingsland — but were felled by the announcement of a lockdown on the very day they were supposed to pick up the keys.
Despite a three-month delay, they opened their doors to an enthusiastic crowd in November 2021 and say they’ve experienced community support since day one — something heightened by the fact that, to their knowledge, they are the sole Jamaican restaurant north of Taupo.
“It’s been amazing,” says Ange, who runs the operations side of the business. “We’ve got this family now — so many Caribbean people come through and say ‘We’ve been desperate for this. We’ve really needed something for our culture’.”
“We’re pretty much on a first name basis with 80 percent of our customers now,” adds JP, who heads up the kitchen.
Nanny’s serves a range of traditional Jamaican and Jamaican-influenced dishes, from jerk chicken and pork to ital coconut curry, as well as classic favourites like mac’n’cheese and burgers. Its most popular dishes are the deliciously spicy and savoury jerk chicken and
pork — “great value for money and proper authentic Jamaican flavours,” promises JP.
But Ange swears by the ‘rasta pasta’, a cheesy, spicy fusion, and it would be rude not to try the cauliflower bites with JP’S special barbecue sauce.
“You can’t go wrong with Jamaican food,” says JP. “It’s soul food. It’s not fancy, it makes you feel comfortable, but it still holds up in terms of the complexity of its flavours.”
JP is proud to be offering the food of his home cuisine and says it’s special to be something of an ambassador for Jamaica in Auckland. “I love sharing my culture and upbringing with people,” he says. “When I meet people who are going to Jamaica, I have a lot of pride in
telling them, ‘Hey, you need to go here and do this’.”
Running the restaurant with pride is also about honouring its namesake. Nanny of the Maroons was an eighteenth-century female leader originally from West Africa, known
for her role in freeing hundreds of slaves in Jamaica, securing land for the formerly enslaved Maroon community and fighting the British in the First Maroon War, a key part of the fight for Jamaican independence.
“She’s like the mother of the country,” explains JP. “I love that when people come in and say, ‘Why Nanny?”, they get to learn a little bit about my culture.” nannyseatery.com
Maddie Ballard – Deputy Editor – Dish @maddieballard27