When I hit the age of 50, I made a firm decision to make it a fantastic time. I am fully aware of the privilege of reaching the milestone of my half century, as many individuals in the music industry do not have the opportunity. And for those who do, they often struggle. Unlike them, I have reached this age relatively unharmed. As a result, I am very cautious about my diet and what I consume in general. I am well aware of the impact that food can have – it can provide comfort and indulgence, but it can also have healing properties. This is coming from someone who just finished eating a sausage roll.
During my childhood, I mainly consumed Jamaican-influenced versions of traditional British dishes due to my heritage. I distinctly recall requesting my mother to make a shepherd’s pie, which she did, but with her own twist by using more flavorful seasonings. This resulted in a fusion of culinary influences. However, there are some dishes, like welsh rarebit, that I adore and believe should remain unchanged. They are absolutely fantastic.
I have never consumed alcohol. During one Christmas when I was approximately 14 years old, my uncle gave me what I believed to be orange juice, but it turned out to have vodka in it. I was excited for the treat, but it ended up making me very sick. I experienced a rash around my mouth and neck and had difficulty breathing. I was sick for multiple days. My mother was understandably upset and asked my uncle if he was trying to harm me. He was embarrassed and from that point on, I have avoided alcohol altogether.
Tea is my drink. Black tea in the morning, and then as the day goes on it’s the green teas, it’s the mints or chamomile or ginger or whatever. When I’m on tour, my rider consists … yes, you guessed it: kettle, lots of water, teabags. It’s the first thing I look for in any dressing room. I’m the cheapest date going!
During a time when it was not popular to abstain from drinking, I chose to do so. After performing at a club, I would request for a cup of tea instead of alcohol. Initially, people would give me strange looks, but now it is seen as a fun and unique aspect of my personality.
In 1995, I relocated to London and was introduced to a whole new world of cuisine that I had never experienced before. Prior to that, I had never tried Spanish food or sushi, and while we did have Italian and Indian options in Wolverhampton, it was still a limited range. London exposed me to a diverse array of foods and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My spouse used to work as a chef, so he often takes control of the kitchen – lucky for me! I introduced him to West Indian and specifically Jamaican cuisine, and now he prepares them even better than I do, which can be frustrating. But he will admit that he can be quite a handful in the kitchen. He likes to observe and comment while you cook, saying things like, “I wouldn’t have done it like that…” He even does this to my 75-year-old mother, who has been cooking since she was six. She’ll jokingly tell him, “Get out of my kitchen!” in a playful manner.
Prince was a brilliant host, brilliant. He invited me to Los Angeles in 2008 to perform at his Oscars party and I remember vividly walking into his house and him saying: “Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?” I knew Prince didn’t eat meat, but he had a chef in and I got salmon and salads. And it was … it was a spread. I don’t know why I remember that salmon so much, but it was gorgeous.
My favourite things
Throughout the day, I enjoy eating ackee and saltfish. My ideal meal would include ackee, saltfish, a fried breadfruit along with plantain, and perhaps even a small green banana and bammy – a cassava-based pancake.
Place to eat
Unfortunately, although no longer in existence, Pete Sanchez-Iglesias, in partnership with his deceased brother Jonray, formerly ran Casamia, a highly esteemed restaurant in Bristol that boasted a Michelin star. It was truly the most exceptional dining experience I have ever had. Currently, he is the proprietor of Paco Tapas, another Michelin-starred establishment, which ranks as my second favorite.
Dish to make
I am skilled at making jerk chicken with rice and peas. However, my version of jerk chicken is spicy and requires bravery. You can ask my band for confirmation.
Beverley Knight has recently released her new album, The Fifth Chapter. She will be appearing in Sister Act at the Dominion theatre in London from March 15th to June 8th (sisteractthemusical.co.uk).