Levi Roots

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Levi Roots
Roots at the Notting Hill Carnival 2010
Keith Valentine Graham

24 June 1958 (1958-06-24) (age 62)[1]
Clarendon, Jamaica
  • Businessman
  • musician
  • television personality
  • author
  • chef
Years active1982–present
Known forReggae Reggae Sauce
Net worthIncrease £45 million (2020)
WebsiteOfficial site

Keith Valentine Graham[2] (born 24 June 1958), better known as Levi Roots, is a British-Jamaican reggae musician, television personality, celebrity chef, author and businessman currently residing in Brixton, in South London.


Roots was born in Clarendon, Jamaica.[3] He was raised by his grandmother after his parents moved to the United Kingdom, until he joined them at age 11.[4] He was raised as a Christian, but converted to the Rastafari faith aged 18.[5]


Roots has performed with James Brown and Maxi Priest and was nominated for a Best Reggae Act MOBO award in 1998.[6] He was a friend of Bob Marley when he resided in the UK and performed "Happy Birthday Mr. President" for Nelson Mandela in 1996 on his trip to Brixton.[citation needed] He gained widespread fame after appearing on the UK television programme Dragons' Den, where he gained £50,000 funding for his Reggae Reggae Sauce.

Reggae Reggae Sauce[edit]

Levi Roots' Reggae Reggae Sauce is a jerk barbecue sauce. In 2006 4,000 bottles of the sauce were sold at the Notting Hill Carnival.

He later took the sauce to a food trade show, where he was spotted by a BBC producer who approached him to appear on Dragons' Den. He appeared in the first episode of the fourth series in February 2007, seeking £50,000 of investment from the Dragons in return for a 20% equity stake in Reggae Reggae Sauce. Despite erroneously claiming that he had an order for 2.5 million litres of the sauce (when in fact the order was for 2,500 kilograms), he was offered the £50,000 for a 40% stake in his business by Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh. Shortly after his appearance on the programme, Sainsbury's announced that they would be stocking the sauce in 600 of their stores.[7]

Leading from the success of his spicy sauce, Roots released an extended version of his song "Reggae Reggae Sauce" which features one of his children (Joanne) on backing vocals. The music video features a cameo from Peter Jones. All of the money raised went to Comic Relief. The song, which formed part of his pitch on Dragons' Den (and was also sung by Roots in an appearance on Harry Hill's TV Burp), was also released as a download single. "Proper Tings (The Reggae Reggae Sauce Song)" received its first play on Allan Lake's breakfast show on Core.

A news story in The Grocer magazine in 2010 states that a range of ready meals were to be launched, and that Roots had stated that the value of the brand had then increased to £30 million.[8]

Papine Jerk Centre and Levi Roots' Caribbean Smokehouse[edit]

Levi Root's first London restaurant, the Papine Jerk Centre, was on the Winstanley Estate in Battersea, Clapham Junction from 2010-2012, His children were working alongside him. The shop would also provide a lunchtime service to a local school (Thames Christian College) before closing.[9][10] In December 2015, Levi Roots opened his first franchise restaurant in Westfield Stratford City.[11][12] It closed in 2019.[13]

Books and television[edit]

Levi Roots' Reggae Reggae Cookbook was published in 2008, with a foreword by Roots' investor, Peter Jones. The book has chapters on Roots' story of coming to London and an introduction to Caribbean ingredients. To coincide with the release of his recipe book, Roots appeared on the edition of 3 June 2008 of BBC's Ready Steady Cook as a celebrity. He achieved the second place against Lesley Waters.

Roots had a television cooking show, Caribbean Food Made Easy, on BBC2, with a book of the same name published in August 2009.[14] The show followed Roots as he travelled the UK and Jamaica demonstrating easy ways to cook Caribbean food at home.

Roots appeared on Celebrity Mastermind in 2010, coming second with 13 points. He also appeared on Big Brother, where he cooked a Caribbean barbecue for the housemates. Roots also made a special appearance in the 2011 urban comedy movie Anuvahood where he plays himself. On 22 February 2018 he appeared in the 8th episode of the 7th series of the BBC detective programme Death in Paradise. He played the part of Billy Springer.


On 12 July 2017 an interview with Levi was published on The Guardian by Katherine Hassell, the interview was titled Levi Roots: ‘My parents moved to Britain when I was four. I didn’t see them again until I was 11’[15]

On 08 November 2020 an interview with Levi was published on Business Digest Magazine by Fanele Moyo, the interview was titled Levi Roots: ‘My success tips for the unemployed black youth’[16]

Personal life[edit]

When he appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs Roots revealed that his relationship with his father had been a difficult one, because his father was "a bit of a stranger." He said: "My brothers and sisters all went to school before they left Jamaica but, being the youngest, I never got any education while I was there. I think that I was a bit of a disappointment to him.” Roots has eight children with seven different mothers.[17][better source needed] Roots has previously been imprisoned for drug offences.[18]

External links[edit]

  • "Official website of Reggae Reggae Sauce".


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Series 80, Episode 84". Countdown. Channel 4. 25 October 2019.
  3. ^ Dixon, Rachel (9 August 2014). "Levi Roots on Jamaica". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  4. ^ Enfield, Laura (13 July 2016). "Levi Roots says he is lucky to have come to Britain and reveals the secrets of his success". The Wharf. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Levi Roots". Desert Island Discs. 22 July 2016. BBC Radio 4.
  6. ^ Best Reggae Act MOBO Nomination Archived 24 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Dragons' Den chef tastes success". BBC News. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Levi Roots brings Caribbean to the ready meal aisle". The Grocer. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Papine Jerk School service and closure".
  10. ^ "Reggae Reggae Sauce". Dragons’ Den Investors. 19 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Levi opens his first Caribbean restaurant". Levi Roots.com. 12 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse".
  13. ^ Lake, Emma (26 June 2019). "Levi Roots closes Caribbean Smokehouse in Westfield Stratford City". The Caterer. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  14. ^ Roots, Levi (4 August 2009). Caribbean Food Made Easy. Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 978-1845335250.
  15. ^ Hassell, Katherine (21 July 2017). "Levi Roots: 'My parents moved to Britain when I was four. I didn't see them again until I was 11'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  16. ^ "Levi Roots: 'My success tips for the unemployed black youth'". www.bestbusinessdigest.com. 8 November 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  17. ^ Hughes, Ruth (17 July 2016). "From the bard to spice: Jerk sauce entrepreneur reveals how he made MILLIONS after prison". Express.co.uk.
  18. ^ "From reggae to riches: Levi Roots' story to be made into movie". The Guardian. 12 May 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2020.