Born in Africa, brought up in Europe and living in China, Rose Lin Zamoa, is the proprietor of the tiny Beijing restaurant Jamaica Me Crazy. The the 34-year-old Afro-haired young lady is quite the entrepreneur according to this article from China Daily: jamaica cuisine

The "110 percent African" from Ghana came to the capital from her adopted home in London about five years ago to further her Mandarin studies and is now cooking up a storm.

"I was very interested in languages and I heard at my college in England that there was an enrichment program to study Chinese here," says Rose. "Though I was above the age limit, I managed to get through eventually.

"I studied full time for two-and-a-half years and whilst studying I used to cook on weekends for my classmates (at Beijing International Studies University). Then some of them became so sick and tired of eating just Chinese food that they said they would like to eat my food for lunch and asked if I could make it and sell it to them. Soon people were eating my food in the classroom, which was kind of cool.

"Soon a few other foreign students at the Communication University of China, which was next to my university, also started ordering and that's how it (the catering business) started." Zamoa says that she had little trouble in adapting to life in Beijing, although her skin color and hairstyle did draw some curious looks and comments initially.

"When I first came here I couldn't get over the fact that people were staring at me and asking me strange questions about my skin and hair. "But I am used to it now," says the fluent Mandarin speaker.

The Andingmen take-out restaurant, which serves popular Jamaican dishes like jerk chicken, beef patties, ackee and salt fish, curry goat (mutton), yams and plantains as well as English-style pies, is Zamoa's third site in the capital; with the first two experiences leaving a somewhat bitter taste in her mouth.

Her original restaurant, near the airport, was targeted for demolition two months after she moved in ("and I cried for days"). The second, in a store, also went sour.

"This wealthy Chinese lady asked me to work with her because she had a very big furniture store and she wanted me to do food there to provide a better shopping experience for her guests," Zamoa said. "I did that for about six months ... I spent 8,000 pounds ($13,000) renovating it earlier this year and bought a lot of equipment, but just as it was picking up, she just said this is not working ... suddenly the music I had been playing was too loud, there were just so many little complaints and it got really ugly, she cut off my electricity and threw my stuff out."

The resilient dual passport holder (Ghana, United Kingdom), who took Caribbean cooking classes while living in London, wasted little time in setting up a new headquarters, with four staff. She says her current shop cost about 80,000 yuan ($13,000) to get into working shape, with most of that being advanced rent.

"I'm not making a profit yet, but the restaurant is starting to take care of itself now. I hope by the summer - April, May - it will start making money it better!"

Jamaica Me Crazy averages about 30 customers a day during weekends and a fair bit less than that during the working week. "It's about a 50-50 split between locals and foreigners, but the good thing is that about 50 percent of the Chinese are repeat customers who live near the restaurant," she says. "They love the spices used with the (jerk) chicken. It's something new to them."

Those herbs and spices are imported from Britain and, sometimes, Ghana, the country she left at the age of seven to move to the UK with her family. She harbors mixed feeling about her time in China, citing bureaucratic red tape in setting up her business as being one of her biggest bugbears while appreciating the friendships she has built with locals, particularly the parents of children to whom she taught English in another of her various endeavors.

"It's been five years, and to summarize everything, generally the Chinese are very nice people. I used to teach English and became very close to my students and I met some really great Chinese people through that," she says. "Everybody is so very helpful. Whenever I need something, or help in some matter, they are always there to assist.

"What I also like is that it is also very safe here, I feel very secure walking down the streets at night, and that is something I didn't always feel while living in London. It's a great environment. "My social life mainly involves Chinese and Europeans and I hang out here (Sanlitun) when I can. Usually with friends from the US and UK."

That is not all that often as the woman who was born in the central Ghanaian town of Sunyani is now looking to expand her pastry business throughout China and perhaps other parts of the region. With all that going on, she also manages to find time to design clothes and jewelry.

"I do it for myself, mainly. But some of my friends see it (jewelry and clothes) and want some as well. It's pretty much just a hobby for me, something I enjoy doing here." Still, she feels her use-by date in China is nearing and a move to the far-flung Caribbean could be on the cards.

"I have pretty much set up the business where it can run without me. I brought someone from Ghana to do what I do so I can leave China. Don't get me wrong, I love the country, but I got what I came here for and that was the language. "I'm going to stick around for a while. Ultimately, I'd like to have a few small shops around Asia patty shops with maybe some jerk chicken to go.

"But, I want to venture outside of Beijing to see what is out there. I would hopefully go somewhere like Jamaica, where my father's father was born. I very much want to go and live there and send stuff back to Asia and check the cash every now and then," she says with a grin.

"St. Kitts and Nevis is very appealing. It's so small and quiet. I would like to settle there (in the Caribbean) the beautiful weather and the food, oh my! It's a paradise, who wouldn't want to live there?" The Afro-Caribbean fusion Zamoa has created through her restaurant was a natural progression, she says. "There are many links between Ghana and Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean region for that matter," she says. "If you look at it, many of the slaves transported to Jamaica and other islands came from that part of Africa.

"They brought their culture and food to that part of the world. There are not that many differences between Jamaican-style cooking and that in Ghana. The ingredients are basically the same and the way the food is cooked is similar."

The Africa-Europe-Asia-Americas' trek would pretty much complete a global circle for the adventurous Zamoa.

For the original report go to http://africa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2013-01/04/content_16080785.htm

Source: Repeating Islands

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