Chef Alex Jackson Talks About Keeping Parada 22's Puerto Rican Soul Real
"Parada 22," Jackson says, "refers to one of the main streets in Puerto Rico. My partner, Philip Bellber, one of the founding partners of Cha Cha Cha, grew up in New York like me. Philip spends a lot of time in Puerto Rico, and he adores the food. We had that space, and we thought, what in the hell are we going to do with it? Let's do Puerto Rican homestye food. That was last July.
"One of Philip's friends' sons is a fireman, and he and a friend built out the space. We were going to quietly open, with no publicity, but this town is so small and so intense about food that somebody walked by and noticed that the chef of The Corner was here. Next thing I know, the guy from Grub Street was calling me. We had a line out the door on opening day. The thing I appreciate is that people are accepting it for what it is: two kinds of beans, rice, four kinds of meat.
"Philip's cousin, Gloria, flew in and helped us track down the ingredients. We came up with the bean recipe, and I cooked beans every day for three weeks until I got it right. What Gloria did was that she let me know if it was legitimate. She was an angel."