My Favorite Bajan: Chef Jabari Corbin
My favorite part of restaurant visits is getting to know all of the individuals who have a part in my meal. While I can follow a recipe like nobody’s business, I lack the ability to see a fridge full of ingredients and create something divine from that. Therein lies my fascination with chefs.
One inspiring chef that I had the pleasure of meeting recently is Chef Jabari Corbin. Chef Corbin works primarily at Bink’s Midtown, though you can sometimes catch him at the Scottsdale Binkley’s location.
Chef Corbin was born and raised in Barbados, the youngest of three children. He always knew that he wanted to travel and study abroad. After his brother traveled to the US and studied at ASU, he found Arizona to be the perfect place to land. He first arrived in 2009 and attended culinary school right off the bat. He acquired a work visa and began working at Christopher’s for about a year and a half before going back to Barbados. Once his brother and sister in-law had twins, he traveled back to the Valley to help them out and while here decided to go back to school. He had occasion to meet Kevin Binkley through one of his instructors at school and has been working at Bink’s Midtown since it opened in March of last year.
While I visited with Chef Jabari Corbin, we spent time chatting about a myriad of topics from kitchen injuries, travel, competitions that he won while in culinary schools and what his life will look like in the next ten years.
We also ate. Chef Corbin make me a few traditional Bajan dishes, that after tasting them I was sad to find out that they were not on the menu, though I was so grateful that he shared traditional dishes with me. He prepared Cod Fish Fritters, Flying Fish and a delightful Hibiscus and Spiced Rum cocktail.
The Cod Fish Fritters were a combination of cod fish that is boiled and re-hydrated and mixed with onions, parsley, thyme and habanero or scotch bonnets. Chef Corbin went easy on me in the pepper department so that he could bring the heat in the form of the dipping sauce. He created a sauce by mixing ketchup and a local island pepper sauce that his parents brought from Barbados. The sauce was a thing of beauty; bold spice and heat without burning out all your taste-buds. I would be waiting at the door waiting for them to open each day were this dish on the menu!
The Flying Fish is a classic island dish. Flying fish are aptly named as they can “fly” up to about 29 feet! This delicacy is another item that his parents bring over with them when visiting. The fish is marinated in some select herbs, citrus along with parsley and fresh onion. The fish is then breaded and deep fried and served with a black pepper lemon aioli. The fish had a very distinct rich flavor and the herbs popped when combined with the aioli.
One of the best cocktails I may have ever had came in the form of his Hibiscus and spiced rum cocktail. The spiced rum was brought over from Barbados and is extra old aged barrel rum. The hibiscus flowers used are re-hydrated with clove spice, cinnamon and nutmeg and it steeped overnight and then strained. A little bit of water is added along with the standard pour of rum, then shaken and served on the rocks. The cocktail is the perfect balance of sweet and floral without being syrupy.
If you have not yet been to Bink’s Midtown, I suggest you make a trip soon. While you won’t be able to experience the items that I had, and sadly neither will I, but you will have the chance to try his green chile pork papusas, which just so happen to be one of his favorite things to make. The BBQ Octopus is also highly regarded as one of the best Valley dishes. No matter what you order, you are bound to be treated by a creative dinner crafted by an incredibly talented chef. Keep your eyes on this one, he’s definitely one to watch!
*Chef Jabari Corbin created these dishes for me during the course of our interview, so that I could have a real life experience of the flavors that inspired him. These items are not on the menu at Bink’s Midtown.