Flash-grilled: Levi Roots

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse

Related tags: Chefs, Restaurants

Born in Jamaica, Levi Roots launched his eponymous hot sauce brand in 2007 following a memorable appearance on BBC2's Dragon's Den. In 2015 he launched Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse in Westfield Stratford City.

What was your first job?
I was an engineer.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
Chocolate, I can’t resist it.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Miss T’s in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I love that place.  

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Ainsley Harriott, he was such a role model for me, one of the first Caribbean chefs on television.  

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
Music, my other great passion. 

What is your biggest regret?
I don’t do regrets, learn and move on. 

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Blunt knives.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
I was recently asked whether I still make my sauces at home. 

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Pulled chicken, the UK is crazy for pulled anything. 

Describe your cooking style in three words
Fresh, tasty and fabulicious.

Most overrated food?
Oysters.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Poor service. 

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Like all restaurants, we had the odd off day, nothing that I’ve not been able to come back from.

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
For my fabulous dragon, Peter Jones, he invested in Levi Roots and not Reggae Reggae sauce.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Be prepared, don’t be scared to make mistakes, be fearless.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My pestle and mortar. 

What do you cook at home on your days off?
I cook simply at home. It’s all about being in the season.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
Being with my beloved grandmother Miriam Small in Jamaica, the first thing she taught me to make was fried dumplings.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To believe in myself, I was ready to give up several times and my lovely mentor, Aida Jones encouraged me to keep going. 

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Luckily, that’s not something that has happened to me. 

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Jamaica, that’s my happy place.

Tipple of choice?
I’m really not a drinker, the odd Red Stripe.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Fish and festivals...delicious.              

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