The phenomenal rise of Rastafarian musician Levi Roots is one of the most heart-warming business success stories to date. Levi made the big time from producing his Reggae Reggae Sauce, a delightful mix of barbecue and jerk sauce that won an exclusive contract in 2007 and was soon stocked in Sainsbury's stores across Britain - Levi's sauce is the chain's fastest ever selling product.
Prior to that, Levi had been making the sauce from his home kitchen with the help of some of his seven adult children, and selling the sauce at various small outlets in London, including a south London record shop. Levi's secret recipe comes from his grandmother Miriam Small who taught him how to cook from the age of nine in Clarendon, Jamaica. Levi had the recipe in his head for years but didn't start producing it until 1991 at the Notting Hill Carnival at what he calls the 'Rastaraunt' which is still a regular feature at the Carnival to this day.
But that all changed when he was featured on the hit TV show Dragons' Den. Two of the five judges were sufficiently impressed with Levi's charming presentation which included a song whilst strumming on his guitar, that they committed £25,000 each for a return share of 20 per cent of his company.
His late entry into the culinary field came because of commitments to music. Levi was enjoying himself touring around the world, performing with icons such as James Brown, Dennis Brown, Michael Rose and Black Uhuru. He was nominated for a MOBO award in 1998 for his 'Free Your Mind album'. He sang 'Happy Birthday' to Nelson Mandela when the South African icon visited Brixton and used to play football with Bob Marley every Sunday in Battersea Park! Levi's latest album "Red Hot" was launched in autumn 2009 by Sound Box Media.
The rapid popularity of Reggae Reggae Sauce has seen an expansion of the brand, to include a range of sauces and products. His first cookery book, Reggae Reggae Cookbook was published by HarperCollins in June 2008 and continues to sell extremely well. His second book, Caribbean Food Made Easy (August 2009) and third book Food For Friends (August 2010) were published by Mitchell Beazley. Caribbean Food Made Easy was accompanied by a BBC2 series of the same name.
Levi is always moving with the times and has just launched his own iphone app called Levi Roots' Sunshine Food (www.leviapp.com). His recent books include a business book entitled You Can Get It If You Really Want (Mitchell Beazley, 2011) and Spice It Up (July 2011). Levi is currently working on his new book, Sweet, which is published in July 2012.
Levi continues to tour the country as a motivational speaker, encouraging young people and business entrepreneurs to follow in his footsteps.