David Kra BBQ Jerk

Lunch time on a Saturday afternoon and the Midleton farmers market is bustling as usual.
The Fair Green is buzzing with people flitting in and out of food stalls but one vendor in particular is attracting more attention than most.
At David Kra’s BBQ Jerk kiosk plates are brimming with jerk chicken, rainbow fried rice, tender beef casserole in a rich tomato sauce and jollof rice with chilli sauce.
For Kra who hails from the Ivory Coast, his earliest memory was helping his mother in the family kitchen.
He would peel onions, wash herbs, clean beans and assist in the making of household staples such as curry and veg fried rice.
“My mother is a great cook, she’s fantastic. The house was always busy, every weekend she’d have a friend she’d cook for, helping out with birthdays and celebrations. I used to give her a hand when she had lots to do, to make things easier for her.”
In 2004 a number of years after his mother had fled the Ivory Coast, David came to Cork to join her.
Despite his home country having an outward image of being a haven of peace and prosperity in an unstable West Africa, under the surface it was deeply divided along ethnic, religious and economic lines.
Its thriving cocoa industry meant living standards in the Ivory Coast exceeded those in bordering countries like Mali and Burkina Faso.
With the prospect of a better life many from what is considered some of the world’s poorest countries migrated to the Ivory Coast to earn a living.
Those who journeyed had ethnic ties with the people living in the northern Ivory Coast and like them were mostly Muslim.
Some southerners spurred on by anti-elitist politicians like Laurent Gbagbo blamed the foreigners when the economy collapsed in the early 90’s and demanded action to protect the country’s Ivorianess.
The Northerners were depicted as not being real Ivorian’s. A division between North and South occurred creating civil war between both sides.
In David’s home town of Abidjan the economic capital over 1 million refugees were displaced.
A country which was once the economic success among impoverished West African nations quickly became destabilised.
Almost 15 years in Midleton, cooking West African food has been a way for David Kra to ground himself, stay close to his culture and bring people together.
A qualified care worker he never thought it possible to share his love of cooking until recently.
Since fleeing the Ivory Coast with all his belongings squeezed into one bag, the young father of 4 set up his stall in 2015 at Midleton farmers market with an €80 barbeque from Lidl, cooking his BBQ Jerk Chicken. Five barbeques later he’s built up a loyal following at both the Ballyseedy and Midleton farmers markets.
David says the hope is to expand his business further and have his sauces sold in mainstream stores.