Over a decade ago, Kelis’ milkshake brought all the boys to the yard. Today, it’s her line of sauces, Bounty & Full. The “Rumble” singer and saucier believes that everything is better smothered, dipped and poured. With flavors like Pineapple Saffron Glaze, Cranberry Mandarin Sauce and Wild Cherry BBQ”, Kelis’ sauces are just as spicy and creative as the singer’s music catalog. We caught up with the Le Cordon Bleu alumna to talk about her new sauce line, upcoming cookbook and balance.
EBONY: Last year, you initially launched your sauce line as Feast. This year, it’s been repackaged as Bounty & Full. Why the name and brand change?
Kelis: I just went through some legal stuff with someone who I was in business with, who I'm no longer in business with. Although I bought the name Feast, it was just easier to change everything around.
EBONY: When did you first realize that you had a knack for cooking?
K: I’ve been cooking all of my life. I think as we get older we start to focus on what brings us joy. Cooking has always been at the top of my list.
EBONY: What’s your ultimate favorite dish and sauce to prepare?
K: I don’t know if I have a favorite. I love food, flavors and creating. It depends on my mood, the day, or where I’m at.
EBONY: You’ve shared a few behind the scenes photos from the photo shoot for your new upcoming cookbook, Recipes From Around The World:My Life On a Plate. When will it be released and what type of recipes can be found in it?
K: It'll be released in October. It's a collection of things that I love and grew up eating. It's kind of my revamping of that.
EBONY: For those that may not necessarily know their way around the kitchen, what are a few key pointers that you would suggest?
K: Well there’s a difference than baking. Baking is very scientific. Cooking is emotional. It takes a lot of common sense. When people say that they can't cook, it’s because they're not thinking about it. If you start to think about it realistically and in common sense terms, people will realize that they are a lot better at it than they think. I think people just don't think. They'll say, “I can't cook.” And I'm like you’re not thinking about it. So many things are so obvious.
EBONY: A lot of people just want meal creating to be fast.
K: Right, which I think in the midst of wanting it to be super fast, they end up making it longer because they have to go back and do stuff. Cooking definitely does take patience, but when you know what you’re doing, the time does go by fast and it’s joyful.
EBONY: You’re a mother. Are their any fun and creative things that you do to get your son to try new or healthy foods?
K: I don't believe in raising children they way a lot of people do. I don’t do the I’m going to order food and you're going to get chicken nuggets type thing. I’m not that kind of mom. He eats everything that I eat. He’s definitely clear about what he does or doesn’t like, but it's not because he’s unaware. It’s because he just decided after tasting, that he doesn’t like it. If I’m eating quinoa, he's eating quinoa. If I'm having Peking duck, he’s having Peking duck. That’s how we eat. I don't believe in “ the children’s meal.”
EBONY: Around this time last year, you released your latest album, Food. It was equivalent to a bowl of gumbo. Your entire catalog is too. What inspires you to unapologetically create what you want, no matter what other people are doing and dabble in so many different flavors musically?
K: I like what I like. I don’t apologize for it because I don’t feel sorry. To each its own. I feel really blessed and I don’t feel like anybody gave me these blessings. They’re God-given blessings and that’s it. I do what I do because at the time it feels like the right thing to do. When I’m on to something else, I’m on to something else. I don’t feel like I have to appease anyone.
EBONY: You’ll often hear artists say that a particular project didn’t fully convey themselves or that their label made them do certain things.
K: I think that the word artist gets used as lightly as the word love. I don't think everyone that has an album out is an artist. Not to discredit anyone, but artist has a meaning. You are expressing your inner self through a creative outlet. It doesn’t mean that you’re a singer. And you can be a singer and not be an artist. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think there’s a very large misconception about what an artist really is, should aspire to be and what our responsibilities are. I don’t necessarily see it the same way.
EBONY: Your music is very distinctive, but what makes you distinct as a chef?
K: I think it’s the same thing. I’m really honest. I don’t try to duplicate anybody else. I’m not recreating the wheel. I just am what I am and I cook the same way. That is what resonates the most. I am genuinely who I am and I cook that way. The flavors that I cook from are what I know because I grew up with them. I can’t speak for somebody else. For instance, the reason why Chinese food and Latin food goes so well together for me is because my mom is Chinese and Puerto Rican. I can’t make that up. It just is what it is. It simply defines me. I really didn’t begin to learn who I was, ironically enough, not through music, travel or anything, but through cooking. That’s when you really have to dig out and think about stuff that was just constant throughout your life. I cook like that.
EBONY: Your tag line is that Bounty & Full isn’t just about sauces or food, that’s it’s a lifestyle. What are some things that you do daily to ensure that your life is bountiful?
K: I give thanks to the Lord all the time. I am completely aware that everything happens because of him. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that I live with a certain quality standard, on everything. From the way I dress, to the things I eat. I am truly blessed. There is a way of living and there’s a way of looking at the world. Nothing is that bad, even when it’s terrible. There’s always tomorrow. I’m grateful that there’s always another chance to do things a little bit differently or better. That’s how I live.
EBONY: You often share photos of food on Instagram with the caption, “Things I make for him.” Tell me about about “him.”
K: No (laughs). It’s just my life. The things I make for "him" are not the things that I would make in a restaurant or I would even put in the cook book. It’s the everyday stuff. The real life stuff. It’s the I’m running late, I’ve been working all day and it’s dinner time. I want my family to eat well.
I don’t eat fast food. I go to my local markets. I know where my meat comes from. I have a relationship with my butcher. I text the guy. I love him. He’s great. It’s a lifestyle. I value the people around me. I value my time with them. It’s about living well. I think people always assume that living well is about being rich. It can be, but on the flip side it’s all about being conscious about what’s around you and what you intake because it effects what you get out.
EBONY: You mentioned your butcher. Are you into grass-fed cows and humane raising and slaughter?
K: Absolutely! My sister is a veterinarian and she’s works for the government now for the FDA. So I hear from her about certain things. I’m about balance. I think that going too far to one side is too much and going too far the other side is too much. I definitely try to go to farmer’s markets and things like that. I do what I can. If it’s the middle of the night and I need eggs, I’m not going to not get eggs because my farmer’s market isn’t open (laughs). I believe in balance.
EBONY: We can’t chat and not talk about your hair. What inspires your hair choices?
K: I don’t know. I think hair is more of an accessory. I love it! I feel like it’s fun. There’s so much you can do, especially as a Black woman. I feel like the sky is the limit. I have Senegalese twists right now. It’s interesting. It defines who we are at that moment and how I want people to perceive me.
EBONY: You have your album, the sauce line and your cookbook. What’s next for you?
K: I’m still working on a new record. So I’m doing that. I’m kind of in a food zone right now. I have the cookbook, obviously. I’ll be working on book signings and hopefully a tour in the fall.
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist, writer, photographer and filmmaker. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop and the women in it, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan or at www.GlennishaMorgan.com.