In the latest addition to our celebrity chef series, chef Adam Schop of Miss Lily’s stepped into The Daily Meal’s kitchen last night to share some of the best flavors of the Caribbean, starting with the ingredient that separates the bold from the timid — the wildly hot Scotch bonnet chile used throughout island cooking.
Schop, who serves as the executive chef for Miss Lily’s two restaurants (one in the East Village and another in Soho), is also in charge of the culinary program of Jamaica’s boutique Rockhouse Hotel and is in talks to oversee another restaurant in Dubai — but he wasn’t always an expert on Jamaican cuisine.
In fact, it was only a few years ago that the classically trained Schop was taken out of a French kitchen in D.C. — Stephen Starr’s Le Diplomate — and thrown into the world of soulful Caribbean cooking. “I didn’t know the first thing about it,” Schop says. “It was a baptism by fire — by Scotch bonnet.”
The natural fusion quality of Jamaican food, historically shaped by its British, African, Indian, Chinese, and Spanish settlers, makes it an enviable cuisine to inherit — and gave the world the beloved Jamaican beef patty.
From West Indian curry masala with allspice — known locally as pimento — to the Chinese duo of ginger and scallions, Jamaican cooking has gladly borrowed from around the globe. All of these flavors went into Schop’s take on lamb belly, a step up from the pork belly that has made an appearance on nearly every non-vegetarian menu in the last few years. Schop added Scotch bonnets, of course, and then left the rest to time. Marinated for up to 36 hours, Schop’s lamb belly soaks up flavors at a languid pace — the fattier the meat, the better — that gives culinary credence to the concept of “island time.”