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Levi explores his roots

Levi Roots, smiling and holding a microphone

A special day

The chef, musician and entrepreneur visited Age UK Barnet recently for a day of stories and fantastic food to mark Black History Month.



Levi Roots shared stories from his life during a visit to Age UK Barnet recently. The much-loved chef, musician and businessman attended a special event and discussed his early childhood in Jamaica and the women who inspired his extraordinary career.

A welcome return

Levi last visited Age UK Barnet in October 2018, when he shared his culinary skills and famous jerk chicken recipe with the men’s cookery class there. This time, however, he was there to celebrate Black History Month. As part of a packed day that included performances from a steel pan orchestra and sharing a range of delicious West Indian and African dishes, Levi walked down memory lane in front of an enthralled audience.

Revisiting your roots

Levi started by sharing his admiration for Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican political activist and writer, who died in 1940. “He was the one who said that a people without the knowledge of their past is like a tree without roots,” Levi explained. It’s for this reason that Levi shared tales from his time in Clarendon in Jamaica. While Levi’s parents travelled to the UK in search of a new life as part of the Windrush generation, he and his five siblings remained in their homeland with their grandmother, Miriam, with each of the children being summoned one at a time as their mother and father secured a house and became financially stable.

Levi’s story

Levi, who was the youngest child, was the last to go over to England. Initially, he hadn’t minded his siblings being relocated, as it meant there was more room in the cramped bed they had to share with their grandmother. But when he was the only one left and came time for him to make the journey, he was saddened by the idea of leaving the woman who’d acted as his mother and father, and whose way of combining music and food led to the creation of Reggae Reggae Sauce, the product that would ultimately make Levi a household name. “She died just after I went over to the UK,” Levi revealed with audible sadness.

Levi’s life, from being a boy subjected to racism who couldn’t spell his own name, to Dragon’s Den success story, is one he tells with charisma and enthusiasm. But why does he consider it so important to share these insights? As it turns out, it was Levi who was looking for inspiration on this visit, from the older people of Age UK Barnet. “I lost my mum a couple of years ago,” Levi told us after the event. “Engaging with older people is something I’ve always enjoyed and something I love to do any chance I get, but it has an added significance now.”


Lessons for life

And why does Levi think the sharing of stories is such a key part to Black History Month? “Black history wasn’t acknowledged and celebrated when I was a kid,” he explains, “so it took me a long time to understand about my past and to make myself feel better when I was a young man, because I hadn’t felt I was worth much growing up.” In the absence of those cultural touchstones, it was Levi’s late mother who gave her young son a sense of his worth. “My mum gave me the ability to be me. I struggled at school but when I got home there was this wonderful woman, ready to accept me for who I was.”

And it’s a lesson Levi imparts to everyone he meets. “It’s important to be yourself,” he enthuses. “It’s easier than to pretend you’re someone else. That’s what I did when I went on Dragon’s Den. I was a rasta man carrying a guitar, loving music and food. Some people might not have thought that was a formula that was going to work, but it did!”

Learn more about Levi's visit to Age UK Barnet

Read more and see addition pictures from Levi's visit in Age UK's Media Centre.

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Last updated: Nov 09 2022

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