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Levi talks Notting Hill Carnival roots

NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL: Levi Roots is one of nine new ambassadors for the street festival

LEVI ROOTS is one of 10 Notting Hill Carnival ambassadors, organisers recently announced. We caught up with the celebrity chef and Reggae Reggae Sauce founder at the 2019 launch of Europe’s biggest street party to find out what he loves so much about the annual celebration of Caribbean culture.

“It’s part of my culture, personally, as a person, as a Caribbean person but also about my livelihood as well with soundsystems because this is where I started my love of soundsystems,” Roots told Life & Style.

In addition to his introduction to the festival through music, Roots also served up his now famous sauces with jerk chicken as a stallholder on Westbourne Park Road. Now his connection to and love for Notting Hill Carnival has seen him take on a role in which he will represent the festivities. He told us why being an ambassador is significant to him.

“This year, for me, it’s a special occasion because this is the first year that I’m actually being sounded out as an ambassador so I feel very proud,” he said.

He added: “I think it’s important that everyone that’s drawn something from carnival put something back – it’s as simple as that.

“Some of us have been lucky enough, like me, to make a business out of it. My point is now to be part of the ambassadorial role to give something back, to stand up and say to others that, look it’s not just about merriment and about enjoying yourself...it’s also something else that goes on as well, because it is a business for a lot of people and I always like to express that.”

“I always see carnival through the eyes of the stallholders, through the eyes of the food because that plays a bigger part than what people actually give it kudos for. It’s the people that have to get up four, five o’clock in the morning to come and set up the stalls and cook the jerk chicken for everybody to enjoy and you know I think that’s a very inspirational thing to do,” he added.

While Roots' days of rising at the crack of dawn to cook up a storm on the west London streets are long behind him, his presence at carnival is ongoing. His favourite day is Sunday, an important litmus test for stallholders and Family Day.

“If you don’t come on a Sunday you miss a fantastic part of what carnival is about,” Roots said.

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