Meet the world-travelled chef who has landed in Leeds Trinity Kitchen with his BBQ street food eatery
World-travelled chef James Mackenzie has landed in Leeds with his new street food venture - Jimmy Mack's.
He's the first chef to take over Trinity Kitchen's street food van, a converted Peugeot J7 that will host a range of budding cooks and new vendors.
James was born in South Africa and lived in the Caribbean, before travelling across South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Taking inspiration from his travels, Jimmy Mack's serves crispy taco-like wraps filled with mouth-watering 'low and slow' meats.
“My first food memories were travelling around the Caribbean islands," the 32-year-old told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"I got a feel for hot pot curries, different spices and fruits - I still use those ingredients in my cooking now.
"I love to travel, learning from cuisines around the world.”
James trained as a chef in Lincolnshire and worked at a top London hotel, before cooking in restaurants across the globe.
He settled in York five years ago, jetting off for seasons in The Alps and luxury superyachts in France, Italy and Croatia, where he cooked for the rich and famous.
“I loved working in the chalets," James added.
"We’d come up with different menus for the guests every week. It was a really good feel, cooking in front of them and watching them try the food.”
Jimmy Mack's has been in the pipeline for six years and James decided to bite the bullet and set up his business during the pandemic.
He said: "I sat down with my girlfriend and we decided to go for it.
“I’ve always eaten at Trinity Kitchen and it was one of the first places I contacted. I thought it was a long shot, but they got back and said they’d bought the van and wanted a chef. It was amazing timing.
“We did our first festival two days before moving into Trinity Kitchen. We’ve had lots of people coming back for more, which is always a good sign.
“We opened during half term and it was buzzing, everyone was out in Leeds and trying new food. There's such a good feel here.”
The Jimmy Mack's wrap menu includes six-hour birria lamb leg, 14-hour maple-smoked pork collar and 12-hour smoked brisket.
The wraps are dipped in meat juices and topped with melted cheese, salsa and pickles, using tomatoes and chillies grown in James' home.
There's a vegan pulled BBQ oyster mushroom filling, as well as loaded fries and southern-fried boneless chicken thighs.
“It’s really tasty street food that I enjoy eating as well as cooking," James added.
"No one else is doing what I'm doing - it's crispy, almost taco-like wraps with a pot of meat juices to dip into.
"The smoked brisket wrap is one of my favourites, you get the 12-hour smoked meat with roasted garlic aioli, butter pickles and tomato salsa, all nicely crisped up.
"The menu speaks for itself."
James is looking forward to expanding Jimmy Mack's across Yorkshire and beyond, bringing his eclectic mix of flavours to more meat-loving diners.
He added: “Watching people enjoy your food and give you good feedback - that’s what you do it for, that’s what keeps you going.”
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