Featured Image Photo Credit: FOX 11 Los Angeles
Trap Kitchen L.A. is changing the face of Compton. The owners, Malachi “Spankihanas” Jenkins a.k.a. “Chef Scrappy” and Roberto “Bad News” Smith are former rival gang members.
Jenkins, an ex-Crip and Smith, an ex-Blood turned in the drug, gang and violence-filled lifestyle to start their own business.
They are redefining what a “trap house” is — the “trap” in the company’s name is an acronym for “Take a Risk and Prosper.”
Smith explained to VICE how they came up with this idea:
“It was just a blessing, we ran with it…we just gave up on all the drugs…[being] in the streets…going to jail for nothing [and] getting shot at. I’m sitting in this house with chicken and ribs doing numbers like i’m on the corner with these drugs.”
This sheds light on bigger problems — including Compton’s bad reputation and depiction in the media.
Compton is an example of what happens when a place reflects the deep state of poverty and economic disadvantage. It’s where arrests are made but authorities have not really intervened to help the community.
This has occurred in various other places, including Harlem (NYC). There was a time when you had to travel across town, just to get fresh, high quality food and it wasn’t cheap. It wasn’t until gentrification began that run down apartments with health-code violations were then torn down to make way for luxury units.
We all want to be able to support ourselves and the people that we care about. The people living there want more but they don’t have access to those resources and probably can’t even imagine rising from it all but with the success of Trap Kitchen L.A., they see that it is possible.
Jenkins was a trained chef who attended top culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu and shared pictures of his food on Instagram. He quickly gained attention from people who wanted to order the meals and due to the high demand, Trap Kitchen was created.
The tagline of their business is straightforward and appealing: “five star restaurant meals without the five-star prices.”
Since then, they’ve catered for celebrities and residents like Snoop Dogg, The Game, Tyrese, Reverend Run, D’Angelo and Kendrick Lamar. Jenkins is inspired by watching people like Guy Fieri and Andrew Zimmerman on television.
He told VICE that his passion started when he was 16. He learned from watching his mother and grandmother cook.
“My mom was always at work, so me and my sister had to fend for ourselves” he adds. Smith and Jenkins, laughing, share the time when an undercover cop pulled over one of their first-time customers:
“They searched them and their car ‘cause they thought we were trapping drugs, but all we did was trap food, so they squashed the case.”
Their specialty – Pineapple Friday, aka “The Deadliest Catch” is a crowd favorite. It’s a pineapple sliced open and contains lobster, king crab, shrimp and an assortment of other delicious additions.
The plates are customizable, with the choice of a single meal or hungry/heavy man plate, and seafood or different types of meat. Surf and Turf meals are served with Lobster Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus, Garlic Bread and Soda, with the option to substitute shrimp with steak, chicken breast or salmon.
House of Chops offers chopped Chicken, Turkey, Pork or Skirt Steak for $10. Side choices include Mixed Greens w/ Cabbage and Smoked Turkey Tails, Green Salad and Four-Cheese Mac, among others.
In an interview with Noisey, Kendrick Lamar, sits in a back yard among residents of Compton. He speaks on mass incarceration in Compton and how many of the people affiliated with the gang lifestyle are doing it for survival, not because they want to:
“It’s mentally and physically. It’s not only caging us in the prisons, but up here as well. Making us feel like it’s no hope so you gon’ always gonna be institutionalized. They don’t know that up here, their son is going to be thinking the same way. Forever locked up…they don’t be doing what they’re doing. It’s not for the luxury, it’s the circumstances…”
Smith and Jenkins took what they had to make a way for themselves and they’re pricing their food so that people can afford and enjoy it.
If they have food left over for the day, they give it out to people and they’ve provided jobs for a lot of the residents.
It’s inspiring to know that you can start a business using what you have and through providing great service, and expand.
Yessir!! #TrapKitchen BBQ DINNERS 3:30pm TODAY(🐔🐷🐮)….chicken LEGS/Wings , Beef ShortRibs/Beef/HotLinks ..PorkRibs/Links served with non Pork baked Beans , Potato Salad ,& MACnCHEESE …single meat Plate 10$ …HungryMan (any2meats) 15$….HEAVY MAN PLATES 20$ any 3 meats of your choice 20$…all meals come with soda…Deliveries 2 or more orders minimum + delivery fee call/text ‼️(323)879-5898‼️ ….for pick up location or to order a delivery …#GetYoooIssue PLEASE DO NOT ASK FOR THE LOCATION ON HERE CALL OR TEXT please and thank you #TrapKitchenLA #Compton #Watts #LongBeach #Hawthorne #LeimertPark #Gardena #Willowbrook #Wilmington #Carson #Torrance #LosAngeles #Inglewood #WestLA #CulverCity #Lynwood #SouthCentral #Food #Foodi
“A lot of these kats got kids man, they don’t want their kids seeing the same lifestyle. They want to make it out the lifestyle, come back and give to the kid that don’t necessarily see it because they’re in it…just in the same way that they used to be in it”, said Lamar.
It’s a story of hope that shows how two opposing sides can come together and how one idea can help the community. Trap Kitchen LA is changing the perspective of life for Compton’s residents, who now see that they can make their own business ideas a reality.
For more information, visit the official site TrapKitchen.com and their Instagram, @trapkitchen_news