Katie Robinson photo
Jamie Dickerson has been a New Orleans Saints fan for more than 47 years, so when he opened his own eatery, Jazzbo's Rollin' Gumbo, two years ago, it seemed natural to plan the menu around his favorites from The Big Easy.
"I went to New Orleans when I was younger, and I just fell in love with the food," he says. "Now I try to replicate it up here." A lifelong Richmonder, Dickerson (pictured) grew up in Ginter Park, attended Virginia Commonwealth University and worked a variety of jobs at Richmond restaurants such as Strawberry Street Café, Cary Street Café, and since-shuttered faves such as the Texas-Wisconsin Border Café and Not Betty's. Just down the street from his current location on MacArthur Avenue, he worked for 18 years as the chef at Dot's Back Inn. He left when Dot's changed ownership but decided to stay in the Bellevue neighborhood. Now he and partner Molly Buford serve up New Orleans-style dishes from an 18-foot trailer with a fully equipped restaurant kitchen in the parking lot of Once Upon a Vine, a locally owned wine and beer shop at 4009 MacArthur Ave.
"Jamie and I have been longtime friends," says Robert Kocher, owner of Once Upon a Vine. "He has a good product, and I like what he sells. … We complement each other."
All the food at Jazzbo's is freshly prepared, and Dickerson does his best to keep it healthy. For meals that are typically fried, he uses a grill — hence the menu's grilled-catfish po' boy. "For the gumbo and jambalaya, it's as healthy as it can be," he says of his best sellers. Jazzbo's also serves vegetarian soups, and pork or chicken BBQ.
Jazzbo's offers catering, and it's open from Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Most of its dedicated customers live in the neighborhood, so to expand their base, you might see Dickerson and Buford at the Bryan Park and St. Stephen's Church farmers' markets, sharing their gumbo with the greater Richmond community.
Jazzbo's Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
1 pound of cooked andouille sausage, sliced
1 pound of boneless chicken, cut into pieces
Enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan
1 cup of chopped onion
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of chopped green peppers
1 cup of chopped scallions
1 cup of chopped parsley
1/4 cup of chopped fresh garlic
2 cups of uncooked rice
2 cups of canned tomatoes
2 cups of chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of blackening spice
Worcestershire sauce to taste
Hot sauce to taste
3 bay leaves
Sauté the onion, celery and green peppers in the canola oil until they are soft. Add the chicken, parsley and garlic and cook the mixture until the chicken is done. Then add the rice, sausage, tomatoes, chicken stock and seasonings. Simmer until the rice is done. Serve with chopped scallions.