Vixen Summer Series: Meet Kelis, The Chef
From Tasty to Food, it's no secret that Kelis has a real knack for delectable treats or sound bites, if you will.
And it doesn't just stop at milkshakes. The mother, singer and chef is a Jill of all trades. Having trained at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu institution, nothing is out of reach for the culinary connoisseur who took up being a saucier – a passion of her's since she stepped foot in her mother's kitchen as a kid.
Here, the chanteuse and saucier dishes on how she mastered the two universal things that bring people together—music and food—the inspiration behind her sauce line Bounty & Full and advice for going after your passions. —Ashley Monae
VIBE Vixen: Where did your passion for food stem from?
Kelis: Growing up my mom was a chef and had a catering service so I was like her sous chef. As a kid, I was always in the kitchen getting my hands dirty so this really comes as no surprise to those that know me.
Would you consider yourself a foodie?
Definitely. I'm from New York and the city is really a melting pot so I've experienced so many different dining experiences that nurtured and cultivated my love for food. I also love to travel and believe I've eaten my way through every major city [Laughs]. Lets just say my palate is definitely developed.
In 2010 you graduated from the renowned culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu. How was that experience?
It was one of the best things I've ever done. For me, at the time I decided to go I was trying to end the relationship with my past label. I didn't have anything planned beyond that because I had been fighting so hard to get off the label that I couldn't really see anything past that. So, it really just kind of happened. It was the first start of my career as an adult with no real obligations. Here I was, at 27-years-old, sitting in my kitchen one day and it kind of hit me that I had to figure out what I was going to do. I heard that classes at the school were starting on Monday so I went for it and that Monday I started.
So you focused your studies on sauce. Why sauce?
While in school I learned about everything, but I picked sauce in particular because it has it's own lane, it's own flavor if you will. I like to think about it in terms of how a woman dresses. It's like two women can go in the same store and buy the same dress, but how you wear yours and how I wear mine are totally different – it's what defines us. What shoes and bags and accessories we choose, it's those extras that define who we are. And with sauce it's the same thing, it's that extra touch that makes a dish special.
Your sauce line Bounty & Full has been around for about two years and is doing incredibly well. But I must ask, with a slogan like "Everything is better smothered, dipped, or poured!" are you a health nut?
No, I'm really neither. I eat really well, as in good quality, all the time. While some people may freak out about butter, I'm like yeah it's butter it's okay to eat it [Laughs]. I don't eat any processed foods or fast food and neither does my son. But I'm also not over here eating a single pea and counting calories. I'm a full on chef. I eat, I like to eat, and I eat very well. That's the whole thought process behind Bounty & Full, it's about making what's bountiful an everyday thing. I eat like that and I live like that. It's not that I necessarily want everything fried and glazed, but it's all about moderation. I don't deprive myself of anything.
What was the inspiration behind the sauce line?
For one, I have always loved sauce – whether I'm dipping it or drizzling it on food – I love sauce. I also love food to be moist and gooey. The line It really stemmed from things I wanted to change and things that I liked and I simply just made them.
I remember moving out to L.A from New York, and in New York you can get good Jamaican food on nearly every corner whether it's roti or oxtail. I get to L.A. and it's like taco heaven so I'm like okay and wondering where the Caribbean food is. Everyone would tell me to try this place and that place, and they were all wack. So instead of craving something that I couldn't find in L.A. I made a jerk sauce. From there I was started playing around with all these different flavor, and things that I like. I cook with a lot of ginger so that's where the Ginger Sesame Glaze spawned from.
You've got a hot sauce in the works.
Yes, I love spicy foods and I love hot sauce. There are so many hot sauces out there that people like whether it's jalapeño and sriracha, but I asked myself what I wanted in a hot sauce. So the sauce is called "The Truth" Habanero Hot Sauce because it's really hot. It's thick and creamy too, I hate watery hot sauce. It has tons of spice and a great flavor because it's been cooked for hours. There are no fillers or preservatives in it so it's all natural. The haberno has a very distinct taste to me, it's not just hot but it's light and airy. Literally, tasting this hot sauce so many great things will happen to your tongue [Laughs]. It's a damn good hot sauce I must say.
Music still is a passion of yours that you pursue, and around this time last year you released your sixth album, Food. What's going on with the seventh album?
Honestly, it hasn't come to form just yet so I have no idea what it's going to be. I think it's way too in the beginning to give it a clear definition. What I can say is that I'm always true to myself so it will sound like a seventh Kelis album, for sure [Laughs].
You balance your love for music and food flawlessly. Any advice to those who are stepping outside of their lane to try new things?
Know yourself. People always ask me for advice and I'm just like really harp on knowing yourself and being yourself. I'll be honest, being in L.A. you come across a whole lot of folks that don't know themselves and it's sad. It's sad because I have to ask them, "Why do you think you're good at this?" And it's not me being mean, it's me being realistic. I know my strengths and I know what I'm good at. If I say I'm good at something you can take it to the bank and bet I'll be damn good at it. And if not, I'll be like hey honestly it's not my thing. I'm never going to comprise my character. But there's a difference in getting out of your comfort zone to push yourself.
I know who I am. I always have to look at myself in the mirror and know that I'm being true to myself. I think many people get confused along the way because they are like this looks so glamorous and great but it's like do you really see yourself in that position or are you just wanting to emulate what they're doing. It's tricky but you've just got to do what you naturally do well. But for me, I cook because I love it. I wouldn't even stop if it wasn't something that was successful for me because I don't care. I love it. I love getting my hands dirty, I love the competitiveness and the intensity. There is really no one that could discourage me from doing it.
Photo Credit: YouTube