The best places to eat delicious Caribbean food are in the Caribbean. Failing that, urban cities with large Caribbean diaspora populations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are a sure bet to find a good number of Caribbean restaurants. In London which has the largest concentration of Caribbean people in the United Kingdom, one of the best restaurants for Caribbean food is Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse which recently celebrated its one year anniversary. Located in Westfield Shopping Center the largest in Europe with 300+ stores, Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse, the latest venture under the growing Levi Roots brand, serves up a traditional range of full-flavored and aromatic Caribbean dishes inspired by Levi Root’s Jamaican heritage in a casual yet chic environment.
The range of Caribbean dishes served up at Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse many of which I sampled at the recently held Caribbean Bloggers Week London Meetup includes Jamaican ackee and saltfish, Bajan fish cakes, Martinique coconut chicken curry, chicken patty with traditional Coco bread and Jamaican jerk chicken based with Reggae Reggae Sauce which launched Levi Roots global brand. For dessert, there is also a wide range including Calypso rum cake, pineapple & chili upside down cake and my favorite Levi’s ginger & pecan brownie which is served up with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. All very delicious in combination with one of the Caribbean cocktails my favorite being the Reggae Rum Punch made with a blend of Wray & Nephew overproof rum, fresh orange, pineapple, lime juice and strawberry syrup.
Based on the success of this first Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse which takes pride in offering its staff a fair not just minimum London wage, plans are in the works for what Levi Roots calls a second rastaurant, not a restaurant. The goal ultimately is to take Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse nationwide and eventually international, no doubt offering up simple as well as complex and flavorful Caribbean food.
So how did it all start for Levi Roots born 1958 in a tiny little village in Clarendon, Jamaica? Well, the march to national, and ultimately global Caribbean food brand began in 2006 when in exchange for a 40% stake in his business, Levi Roots successfully secured at £50,000 investment for his Reggae Reggae Sauce on Britain’s Dragon’s Den despite a shaky pitch. With the help of Dragons Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh, he then got a major distribution deal with Sainsbury’s supermarket for the sauce learned from his grandmother in Jamaica and perfected at his London home in Brixton and made initially famous in the 1990s at Notting Hill Carnivals.
Marketed with Levi Root’s mantra for success, “put some music in your food,” the Reggae Reggae Sauce made with a mix of peppers, herbs and spices became an instant hit. Now there is a whole range of Levi Roots food products beyond the sauces all infused with Caribbean flavors including ready meals, snacks, desserts, and soft drinks. Beyond selling these licensed Levi Roots products in all major supermarket, the brand has also forged successful partnerships with household fast-food restaurant brands such as Domino’s Pizza, KFC and Subway.
Promoting Reggae Reggae Sauce and ultimately Caribbean food which is finally gaining in popularity also lead to Levi Roots hosting an internationally broadcast BBC television series Caribbean Food Made Easy and publishing a Caribbean cookbook of the same name. In total, Levi Roots has published six Caribbean cookbooks with the other five being 1) Sweets, 2) Levi Roots Food for Friends, 3) Spice It Up. Levi Roots, 4) Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae Cookbook and 5) Grill It with Levi: 101 Reggae Recipes for Sunshine and Soul. Levi Roots has also released a few reggae infused albums all of which has helped him to build a successful Caribbean food brand that is having global reach and influence.