Recently, Grace Foods launched the latest video in their "Flava with a Beat" campaign: Grace Mackerel Flairy. The video features popular dancehall artiste and Grace brand ambassador, Ding Dong, cooking up a storm in the kitchen with Grace mackerel, while dancing with his friends to a remixed version of his latest hit “Flairy”. The song included lyrics such as, “Pull a can and yuh flash it left to right/ Anytime mi cook di whole place a ignite/ It flairy!”
Since its release, Ding Dong was named the Grace Foods’ global ambassador and the video has garnered a lot of positive feedback from fans online. While some are commending the Grace team on the concept, others are eager to try the featured recipe mixing Grace frankfurters and mackerel in one pot.
We caught up with Grace Foods’ General Manager, Angeline Gillings, and Social Media Manager, Toni McLennon, over email, to learn more about their experience creating the video, and get some insider tips on more recipes they think we should try.
BASHY: Congrats on the rapid success of the Flairy Mackerel video launch! Did you expect the level of positive response you have gotten?
Angeline Gillings (AG): As we were working on the project we definitely felt that it was something special, however we did not foresee this outpouring of support! We’ve gotten so much love in the comments! It really does show that Grace is moving in the right direction, so we’re very happy with it!
Dancehall and food are two important aspects of Jamaica's culture. How did you come up with the idea of merging the popular song, “Flairy”, with the recipe to create this concept?
AG: Our Social Media Officer, Toni McLennon, shared the idea of the video based on inspiration from other online content as part of our Flava with a Beat campaign. When she pitched it we were immediately on board.
Fans are commenting on the innovative mix of Grace frankfurters and mackerel in one dish. Where did that idea come from?
Toni McLennon (TM): This comes from our consumers. From the time of the Flava with a Beat launch, our consumers shared that this is a very common and favourite preparation for Grace Mackerel fans. In fact, it is Ding Dong’s preferred way to prepare mackerel. A couple weeks before we shot the video he had actually posted a video his friends “running a boat” of mackerel and franks at Ravers Corner in Nannyville. We visited with him and his community, and we saw how popular the recipe was so we decided to use it in the video.
Did you get the try the combo yourself while on set? If so, how was it?
AG: The team absolutely had to try it when we went to Nannyville. Some team members were familiar with it but a few were skeptical at first. When we tried it we all loved it!
Ding Dong certainly looked skilled in the kitchen. Is he a good cook?
TM: Yes! He is, and very meticulous!
You mentioned that the Grace team visited Nannyville as part of the campaign. Is “running a boat” (i.e. cooking a meal informally for a large group of people) with Ding Dong and the Nannyville community as fun as it sounds?
TM: It was better! We saw a video Ding Dong posted of some neighbours “running a boat” with mackerel and franks on Ravers Corner in Nannyville. We wanted to show some love to his community, so we spent some time there, gave out products and cooked with him and his neighbours.
AG: As soon as we arrived in Nannyville, music was playing and different groups of people gathered around to welcome us . Several boats were being run, and each corner had a different recipe, so it was a full culinary experience. Trust us. Check out the video. You’ve never seen Mackerel like this.
On Twitter, Toni mentioned that visiting Nannyville allowed your team to understand “what mackerel truly means to the average Jamaican”. Can you explain this?
TM: Grace Mackerel is probably one of the most accessible proteins and as simple as it is, for many Jamaicans it is an affordable staple. A number of artistes have sung about mackerel as their core meal for dinner or breakfast. Many Jamaicans will tell you that no matter what stage they get to life they still eat mackerel because of what it to means to them. It is a comfort food for a lot of us. I think if you go to any community in Jamaica, most households will have at least one can of Grace Mackerel.
Any other creative Grace mackerel combos we should try?
AG: Of course! We have a number of recipes which are created, tested and approved by Grace Kitchens, such as Grace Mackerel Run Dung and the Grace Jack Mackerel Casserole. They’re all listed on [Grace’s website].
TM: If you’re not a fan of the tomato sauce, there’s premium mackerel which you can use to make a nice salad. My personal go to for mackerel is fritters or with boiled dumplings.
What other innovative takes on Jamaican recipes can you recommend for us?
TM: Our advice is to not be afraid to try things. If you’ve never curried something before, try to curry it and see how it turns out. A lot of Jamaican recipes were created out of adversity and I believe in some ways that continues to drive the innovation we see in Jamaican cuisine today.
Final question, we simply must know. There was a flairy dance-off on set, right?
TM: Almost! There was definitely a lot of dancing throughout the day.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Stacy is freelance writer and marketer, currently living in Montego Bay. When not working on content for business and self-development blogs, she writes about her life and travel experiences as a Black, plus-sized Jamaican woman. Connect with her on Twitter.