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Soul food with Jamaican accent 
is on the menu in Edneyville

Raynard Walker serves a plate of fried and smoked wings at his Dread Life Kitchen. Raynard Walker serves a plate of fried and smoked wings at his Dread Life Kitchen.

EDNEYVILLE — Raynard Walker learned the basics of cooking by watching his mother and grandmother and asking questions. Three years ago, he started cooking out of his house, promoting his roasted, fried and smoked meats on Facebook and launching a small catering business.

“Then I got blessed with the food truck and then I got blessed with the building,” he said.
The former home of Apple Annie’s and the Autumn Leaf Café, the modest building on Chimney Rock Road in the heart of the apple country is now serving breakfast, burgers, blue-plate specials and especially Walker’s signature chicken wings, which won the People’s Choice Award at a Wing War competition in Asheville last March. A wing and prayer have worked out so far.
Walker opened his Dread Life Kitchen four months ago and started serving breakfast last month.
“I just started cooking one day,” he says of his humble culinary beginnings. “I loved learning how my mama and grandma cooked something. That’s how I basically got interested in it and started to take it serious.”
He started out roasting and deep-frying wings, then bought an outdoor smoker, which he keeps out back.
“When I started doing the smoked wings I got pretty much famous for those,” he says. “Everybody said they’d never had a wing like it.”
DLK is open for 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.DLK is open for 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.The Jamaican accent comes from a brother-in-law.
“Basically, when I first started cooking, my brother-in-law, he was a Jamaican guy. I kept going with it,” he says. Walker’s roots and affinity run to Southern soul food — collard greens to fried corn and fried chicken.
“That’s what I was good at and he could cook the Caribbean real good and we teamed up for a long time out of the house,” he says.
Walker admits to having “got in some trouble” first at Hendersonville and then North Henderson High School. He’s turned his life around and is anchored next to his roasting oven, deep fryer and backyard smoker.
More than a dozen sides fill a wall behind the counter for the daily special. Walker buys vegetables from local farmers.
“Fried corn is one of my best sellers,” he says. He cooks up specials on weeknights— pulled pork, pulled chicken and brisket on “Smoked Meat” Tuesday, oxtail, curry chicken and pepper steak and rice on “Caribbean Wednesday,” home-made spaghetti, lasagna and chicken alfredo on “Pasta Thursday” and low-country crab boil on “Seafood Friday.”
The breakfast menu includes a pancake platter (three pancakes, two eggs and meat) for $9.99, biscuit and gravy for $6.99, the “Country Boi” (three eggs, grits, hashbrowns, biscuit and gravy) for $7.99 and an egg sandwich for $4. Besides cheeseburgers, turkey burgers and chicken sandwiches (all $10, with fries and drink), the lunch menu offers wings in at least five flavors (ask about other flavors not listed). Get them smoked (the menu calls them grilled) or fried. An 8-wing combo with fries and a drink is $10. Twelve (just the) wings is $10.
So, smoked or fried, which is it?
“You can’t go wrong with either one,” Walker says.

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Dread Life Kitchen, at 3591 Chimney Rock Road, is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Phone: 828-595-9528.