Kwame McNeil is the chef at Stop 'n Nyamm, a...

Kwame McNeil is the chef at Stop 'n Nyamm, a Jamaican eatery in Shirley. Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

At Stop ’n Nyamm, chef Kwame McNeil is putting it all together. Blending his Jamaican culinary roots with decades of experience in corporate and fine-dining kitchens, he stocks the steam tables at this Shirley eatery with dishes of distinction.

The curry chicken, for example, benefits from a spell roasting in the oven before being stewed into mellow-but-spicy submission. Traditional Jamaican recipes didn’t call for oven-roasting as so few homes had them, he explained. “When I grew up in Port Antonio, our kitchen had no oven — we cooked outside with live fire.” (Now, when he returns to the island, he has to wear goggles when he cooks over the fire. “They tease me that I’ve gotten soft.”)

McNeil’s curry chicken and goat (which has a bit more of a kick) occupy pride of place with his brown-stew chicken and oxtail, both of them a dark-mahogany hue bestowed by imported molasses and, somehow, tasting even darker and richer than they look.

Oxtail is served with rice and peas, vegetables and cabbage...

Oxtail is served with rice and peas, vegetables and cabbage at Stop 'n Nyamm. Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

The menu is rounded out by a hauntingly spiced jerk chicken (smoked daily out back), escabeche fish, Jamaican patties (beef, chicken and vegetable), soups (chicken, fish, beef, goat head and red pea) and a range of West Indian breakfast specialties such as salt fish with ackee (a native fruit) or callaloo (a leafy green), and porridges made with corn hominy, peanuts or oatmeal. 

McNeil and his team at Stop ’n Nyamm (Nyam = "eat with relish" in Jamaican patois) keep the trays full and temptingly garnished with bright strips of carrots and peppers. He started as a cook working at Suffolk County Community College and  was executive chef at the LIRR headquarters in Jamaica, Queens.

Alongside his day job, McNeil gigged with chef Marc Anthony Bynum at his restaurants Four Food Studio in Melville and Hush Bistro in Farmingdale. He also worked at AHRC Nassau, an organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Five years ago he left Florian to devote more time to AHRC but kept being drawn back to the kitchen. In 2021 he was the opening chef at Good Bickle, a Jamaican restaurant in Center Moriches. Last June, he was lured west a few miles to help open Stop ’n Nyamm owned by Carlton and Annet Williams (who supplements the Jamaican food and imported groceries with her own fresh-squeezed juices). 

Stop ’n Nyamm is open every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 921 Montauk Hwy., Shirley, 631-772-1544.

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