August 20, 2018
Levi Roots says he has previously shown Oliver how to make ‘real deal’ jerk chicken

The chef and entrepreneur Levi Roots has said Jamie Oliver’s decision to launch a jerk rice dish is “a mistake”, as a row over cultural appropriation widened.
Oliver was called out on the product by the shadow equalities minister, Dawn Butler, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who questioned whether the chef knew what jerk was.
His “punchy” jerk rice dish contains garlic, ginger and jalapeños, whereas traditional jerk seasoning – which was developed by escaped African slaves on the Caribbean island – relies principally on two ingredients: allspice and scotch bonnet peppers.
Taking to Twitter on Saturday, Butler said: “It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop.”
She also asked Jamaica-born Roots – who appeared on Dragons Den with his now-bestselling Reggae Reggae jerk barbecue sauce – whether he would teach Oliver a masterclass.
During an appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Roots said he had already shown Oliver how to make “the real deal” jerk chicken during a segment for Oliver’s YouTube channel filmed several years ago.
Roots said: “I do think it was a mistake by Jamie – either by him or by his team. Maybe he wasn’t actually involved in this,” he said.
Roots agreed with the GMB host Kate Garraway’s suggestion that the row erupted because specific ingredients were meant to go into jerk seasoning.
The celebrity chef Rustie Lee, who specialises in Jamaican food, said she had tasted the £2.35 microwaveable rice and it was “like Caribbean rice and beans”.
“The jerk part of it is barbecue and you can’t barbecue rice,” she added.
A description of the rice on stockist Waitrose’s website says its creators have “mixed garlic, ginger and jalapeños to create a jerk marinade with attitude, and added this awesome spice mix to coconut-infused wholegrain rice, aubergine and kidney beans for a knockout combo”.
Butler’s tweet has drawn both agreement and criticism.
The Tory MP Neil O’Brien tweeted back: “If Jamie Oliver isn’t allowed to make jerk chicken because it’s cultural ‘appropriation’ she’s [Dawn Butler is] going to go mad when she finds out about ‘Jamie’s Italy’.”
Twitter user Regina Holland said: “Just because Dawn Butler’s an MP it doesn’t mean she can’t have an opinion on anything else. To say otherwise is ridiculous and single minded at best. She’s not saying nobody from Jamaica shouldn’t eat Jamaican food, she’s pointing out the bastardisation of our national dish.”
Oliver has been approached for comment.
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