Retired NYPD Officer Brings Own Interpretation of Ramen to New Jersey

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Chef Wayne Carrington, who has been rocking the ramen world since 2014, now brings his expertise to New Jersey.

In 1998, Carrington retired as an NYPD officer and entered the food business, becoming director and vice president of franchises such as Fat Burger and Five Guys. Despite its fast food past, the film Ramen girl inspired Carrington to take an interest in ramen.

Through much trial and error – and Google, he says – Carrington has mastered the making of this traditional Japanese dish, playing with different ingredients and flavors to make it their own.

“Throughout my journey with ramen, I’ve learned that everywhere I go it’s basically the same,” he says. “So I thought, ‘What if I start merging the ramen with something different? »Stuff like oxtail and jerk chicken? “

In 2014, Carrington launched its first restaurant, Roc N Ramen, in Westchester County, New York. He opened a second branch in the Bronx a few years later. In early December, he opened Vibe N Slurp in Toms River, with the intention of opening more across the country in the future.

“Vibe N Slurp[s] are going to be my personal set of stores, ”Carrington says. “I feel like I’ve lost the warm vibe of Roc N Ramen, so the big difference at Vibe N Slurp is the welcoming atmosphere.”

How did you get into the world of food?
Wayne carrington: Before becoming a police officer, I was district manager for Wendy’s at the age of 20. I spent my 20s at the NYPD, retired, and started eating right away. I worked with Five Guys Burgers and Fries early in their franchise and became vice president for the entire Northeast.

What sparked your interest in ramen?
I first saw ramen in a movie called Ramen girl. Other than the instant stuff, I had never really eaten ramen. I told my daughter to find a ramen restaurant we could go to in Westchester. The closest was in Manhattan, so we got down there and there was a line that went one block to the next street. We stood in line for almost three hours. All week we have been touching ramen and I was blown away.

How did you learn to make ramen?
Google, cookbooks and a lot of trial and error. I learned the basics of making the broth, and from there I kept trying. I started playing around with the idea of ​​opening a ramen shop and met a Japanese gentleman who lived in the same building as me. He told me he had a group of guys from Japan, and that I could cook dinner for them and see how they like my ramen. And they loved it!

What was a special moment after opening your first store?
I was fortunate to have the creative consultant for the film Ramen girl come to my store in New York. I made ramen for him just like the movie. I gave him my oxtail ramen that I had planned to make for a special, and he told me I had to put it on the menu for good.

[RELATED: Where to Find Slurp-Worthy Ramen in NJ]

Are your Roc N Ramen stores still open?
Yes, but I have since moved away from them. Roc N Ramen is the franchise company; Vibe N Slurp is my personal set of stores. I added a different touch to my new dishes. I feel like I’ve lost the warm vibe of Roc N Ramen, so the big difference to Vibe N Slurp is the atmosphere.

Do you see a difference between your customers in New York and those in New Jersey?
Absoutely. It’s amazing the welcome we’ve received from people here in Toms River. I have been closed everyday so far by people buying me food. It has been a tremendous response.

How does it feel to take this new trip with your family?
It was funny. It can be difficult at times to face the family but overall it has been a fantastic experience. My youngest daughter is 21 and my eldest daughter is 24, and they’ve learned the ropes. It was a bit of a challenge, but in a very good way.

Tell me a bit about the Vibe N Slurp menu.
In a typical tonkatsu ramen, you are going to get your broth and noodles, your pork or chicken protein, and it will be garnished with green onions; bamboo shoots; half a seasoned boiled egg; nori and edible orchid.

My favorite is the spicy ramen with boneyard rib tips. I cut the ribs off the pork belly, boiled them in Sapporo beer, sake, and other ingredients, and cooked them in my own Thai chili barbecue sauce. I gave it to a guest and they lost their minds so I had to put it on the menu. It was an instant success. Oxtail ramen also seems to be a favorite here in Toms River.

What are your plans for Vibe N Slurp?
At the moment, we are on a construction of 10 units. We are leaving for Texas at the end of January / beginning of February, then we plan to do Brooklyn and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. From there we leave for New Orleans; Clemson, Georgia and South Beach, Florida. We will be back to New Jersey and I have sparked an interest in the Red Bank, Asbury Park and Cherry Hill areas.

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