Created by husband-and-wife team, Pakistani national Derek Clements, and Grimsby girl Fiona Duerden, Curry Jacks represents a perfect blend of Asian spices with a British classic – curry and jacket potatoes. “I started cooking when I was 14 because my mum told me I had to!” grins Derek, “Our house was always full of neighbours and relatives coming and going, and food was an important part of our socialising. Everyone knew my mum was one of the best cooks on the block, so they knew that our house was a good place to be!”
Community is a core value for Curry Jacks; the founders offer a ‘pay it forward scheme’ to allow Lincoln locals to buy meals for families in need. “Our love of Community isn’t only about a chat in the middle of your day” explains Fiona, “for us it’s about investing in our city – supporting people who are struggling, buying locally, using takeaway boxes and cutlery that don’t damage our environment, andoffering a healthier twist on everyone’s favourite dish without compromising on flavour”. Chef Derek has also recently started helping the community support team at Bridge Church to offer ‘Cook and Connect’ classes – the pair strongly believe that cooking and eating great food with friends is an essential part of good physical and mental health.
They set up the Lincoln Street Food Collective along with The Yellowbelly Sausage Co – this meant that when Lincoln City FC needed a fix for their catering, Curry Jacks started serving the food in the Fan Zone for every home game.
“As soon as lockdown hit, we realised that there would be no events and no one in the city centre so we did a rapid turnaround and became a full-time pop-up takeaway overnight.” says Fiona, “We put a message on our social media asking where our regulars lived, used that to choose locations and then worked to get permission for places to park in each of those areas. We also looked for places where we knew there were no other takeaway options and were a distance from supermarkets – knowing that in every village there are key workers doing longer, more difficult shifts who may well need an easy, fresh, home-cooked food option. Community remains a really important value to us.”
In many ways, being mobile is what saved Curry Jacks. “We weren’t able to access any of the Government grants because they all came tied to having a physical premises but despite losing all the events, we were at least able to stay open. And we’re grateful for all the support from our regulars, many of whom we know made a deliberate decision to support our local business.”
Curry Jacks have developed some strong relationships with the local community in their lockdown locations which include Birchwood Avenue and The Bottle and Glass in Scothern and intend to continue to be present in as many as possible. The truck is also back in the Central Market on Thursdays, where anyone is welcome to takeaway, sit and have a chat, or join the Curry Cooking classes.
Derek and Fiona both believe that food is at the heart of a strong community so chose to spend the rest of their lives together meeting people over a great meal. Chef Derek uses family recipes and techniques learned from his mum, combined with skills learned through an intensive year in commercial cooking school in the Middle East. Much more than just easy heat, their food is a nuanced, flavoursome delight. A visit to Curry Jacks will not only fill your belly with delicious food but leave your heart feeling warm with the passion this small business radiates. You can keep up to date with when Curry Jacks are near you by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @curryjackscaf