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St Ann ‘Pudding Man’ a true tourism ambassador

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For many Jamaicans, the name Edgar Wallace hardly rings a bell. However, just say the name ‘Pudding Man’ from Jus Cool Restaurant, Priory, St Ann, and instantly there is a guaranteed buzz.

Wallace, who was a special guest at last year’s prime minister’s media appreciation party at Jamaica House, is actually no stranger to fame.

The modest Rastafarian — who 15 years ago wasn’t so sure as to what his next move would be, having flirted with a number of ideas at his Jus Cool location — while certainly the most popular pudding maker in the country, could also be the most famous in the Caribbean… perhaps the world.

Wallace is a huge celebrity in tourism circles, having had a special booth at the island’s biggest tourism trade show — Jamaica Product Exchange — and is a poster boy for the Ministry of Tourism’s international gastronomy campaign.

“Tourism is for everybody. I am a living testament to that,” he noted. “It has brought a lot of attention to my business, has made me a lot of friends, and has helped me to be able to provide for my family.”

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who is not only a big fan of Wallace and his culinary delights, but is almost always a regular at Jus Cool “anytime I am passing through Priory”, said Wallace is one of the real tourism success stories, proving that ordinary Jamaicans can make something out of an industry “that is there for everybody”.

“We have used technology in Jamaica to build value, particularly for our small and medium enterprises and some of our street food vendors. We have a little man called the ‘Pudding man’ in Priory, St Ann, and his pudding is all over the world now. By way of digital presentations that we’ve made, his value has been enormous. He makes a lot of money now and people are buying the experience even before they come,” Bartlett noted.

The minister added that with the Caribbean being a renowned culinary destination with diverse menu offerings, “we can make a big value there and use technology to create an effect. Persons like the ‘pudding man’ can lead the way in that important value-added tourism area.”

It wasn’t always like this for Wallace who will readily admit the struggles he and his beautiful wife Angella have been through just to “get it right”. He is also willing to give credit “where credit is due”, thanking the Ministry of Tourism “for believing in me and my puddings” and “for giving me a big push in the tourism business”.

He also had high praises for Sandals International Resorts, also thanking the company for its patronage over the years.

“I’m the only pudding man on the roadside and I get my clientle from all over the world,” he noted. “We had a lot of problems when we just started out trying to get it right, but now everything is weighed and measured. Our secret ingredient is that we do a lot of practising,” he added.

Readily admitting that he has a ‘sweet mouth’, an ability that allows him to instantly know when something tastes right, Wallace, on any given day, has approximately eight huge coal stoves lined at the doorway in front of Jus Cool.

“I’ve lost count of how many puddings we bake per day. We just make them. People come every minute to buy, so we just continue baking throughout the day,” he pointed out.

Though popularly known for his puddings, Wallace has broadened his menu to include toto, conch fritters, sprat, sliced fish, fried chicken and ackee and salt fish. In addition to his baked goods, he also operates a mini-market and grocery store.

“People really love the conch fritters. They just can’t get enough. So while they wait on the food, they can do a little grocery shopping and also buy market produce,” he further pointed out.

Wallace, in the meantime, noted that with COVID-19 taking a toll on businesses all over the country, he is thankful for the local support he has been getting.

“Pudding always sell, no matter what. As a matter of fact, people still come in and buy their whole pudding or their half a pudding,” he said.

“Quite naturally, things scaled down because of COVID. Our business depends on the tourists and there’s no ship coming in, there’s no plane coming in. So actually it’s only our Jamaicans supporting me now.”

“We really give thanks. I can still pay my bills, I can still pay my employees and maybe find a dollar to put in my pocket,” he quipped.

Wallace is also cognisant of the COVID-19 safety protocols and enforces them daily, beginning with a sign on the glass door that reads ‘No mask, no serve’.

“We don’t let the customers pack up in the store. We try to serve them as quickly as possible, and if there’s more than three or four, we let them stay outside until we can accommodate them. We also have sanitisers that they use regularly and I let the workers wipe down the counter and keep the area clean,” he added.

He is also a philanthropist at heart, readily contributing to the development of his beloved St Ann and is a mentor of sorts to wayward youths. “Once you are willing to listen and learn, then you are speaking my language,” he said.

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