Conversations held while sharing a meal can often build bonds that last a lifetime. Kelis and I originally met at a dinner in 2001 and our rapport was immediate. Thirteen years later, she remains one of my closest friends. I connected with her recently to chat about her adoration for the culinary arts.
Ant Demby: I have tasted your cooking and it is mind-blowing! When did your love affair with the kitchen begin?
Kelis: I learned to cook early on. My mother had an event and catering company while we were growing up. So I learned not only to cook, but also the art of food.
A few years back, you took some time off from music to go to culinary school. What made you decide to make that pivot?
It’s something I had always thought about, but never had time to do. I had been in an ongoing battle with my label, trying to get my release. Finally, I was sitting in my kitchen one day and I got the call. It was the first time I had been a free agent. I had forgotten what it felt like to do something just for me, on my own time. That’s when I decided that now was as good a time as any. On a Friday I enrolled in Le Cordon Blue, and I started Monday morning.
You are getting ready to launch your own line of sauces. What can we expect from FEAST?
Feast has been brewing for years. I’ve always loved the extras in life. The accessories, the accents. Sauce defines just where and who food is from. I love that. Everything is better smothered, dipped or poured.
Your latest album is called FOOD. The art of cooking is such a creative process, just like making music. Are there any similarities between your approach to making a song and making a meal?
I’ve been asked this question a lot lately. I’m not that calculated. I’m honest, though. I don’t really think about it in those terms. I’m always best when I’m given a tool or an outlet. Granted, I’m creative, so that always speaks first in me. But I do what comes naturally and I thrive because I don’t try to stuff myself into a shape that doesn’t fit. Music , food, fashion: they are all part of a recipe for a lush life. I’m sure there are similarities, but as far as I go, my father was a musician and my mother is a chef. So it has less to do with me, and more to do with the nature they gave me.
Back in the day we used to watch True Blood, and you would make dishes inspired by the show, such as the bleeding heart red velvet cake. If you were to make a dish inspired by your current favorite show, what would it be?
That’s a tough one, when I’m off of the road I love TV. Great TV and utter trash, it doesn’t matter! I don’t know what’s my favorite show right now – but I do love a theme.
Who are the five people you would like to invite to dinner, and why? And what meal would you prepare?
I love to cook. To feed people really just brings me joy. I love cooking for my family. But I would cook for anyone. It’s different from music. Food is a lot less subjective. Whether I’m cooking in a soup kitchen or for an event, I do it with the same excitement and finesse.
There’s a saying: “You are what you eat”. If that’s true, what are you?
Little Miss Piggy LOL.
What is your one secret ingredient?
Secret ingredient…? I don’t know if I have one. Sounds corny, but I guess it’s love. Not so much my love for people – more my love for food!