Food is the title of rock/soul singer Kelis’ sixth studio album, and fans may be surprised to know that it’s food, not music, that is her first love. Growing up in Harlem, Kelis often stepped in as sous chef at home and for her mother’s catering business.

“My mom would always tell me to go wash my hands and help out in the kitchen,” says the singer. “Whether she was cooking for our church to feed the homeless or for a massive gala, my mom treated it all with the same care and precision. That was the birth of my love of food.”

It wasn’t until years later when Kelis Rogers, now 34, was on the outs with her record label that she enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu to become a formally trained chef. Although she rolled her eyes at the requirement to wear “a stupid hat and chef’s getup,” Kelis loved cooking seven hours a day, five days a week and working in a restaurant. Now cooking for her close-knit group of girlfriends is a frequent ritual, in addition to her 24-7 Mommy duties for Knight, 4, her son with ex-husband and rapper Nas.

“My specialty is sauce,” says Kelis, who debuted a line of savory sauces called Feast at last year’s Beverly Hills Food & Wine Festival. The line becomes available this spring on, and she insists, “Sauces can transform any dish.”

Read the remainder of this article in the May 2014 issue of EBONY Magazine.