Getting saucy with Kelis

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Kelis Rogers dropped the chart-topping single “Milkshake” in 2003, but it turns out her love of food started at an early age: Her mother had a catering company out of their home in Harlem, so Kelis got to see the labour of love first-hand.

It’s no wonder so many of her song titles are food-centric: “Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy,” “Breakfast,” “Cobbler,” “Friday Fish Fry,” “Hooch,” and “Jerk Ribs” – not to mention albums titled Tasty (2003) and Food (2014).

The award-winning artist doesn’t just sing about food though - she’s a culinary expert, to boot: 

- Kelis attended esteemed cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu.

- She had her own show on The Cooking Channel, Saucy and Sweet,

- Her cookbook  My Life On A Plate, a collection of her favourite recipes, is filled with enticing fare - Arroz con Gandules, and Shrimp Alcapurias, and Pernil (Puerto Rican Pork Shoulder) honouring her Puerto Rican heritage, alongside dishes from her travels such as Malay Curry Chicken and Pineapple Beef.

- Kelis believes “Everything is better smothered, dipped, or poured...,” thus she created Bounty & Full: a line of sauces and glazes: mouth-watering Pineapple Saffron Glaze and Colombian staple Spicy Aji Verde to barbecue season must-haves Wild Cherry BBQ Sauce and "The Truth" Habanero Hot Sauce, for starters. Made with 100 per cent natural, gluten-free, GMO-free, meat- and dairy- free ingredients, the sauces are available online and ship to Canada.

Chef Kelis will be in the 6ix for an exclusive event, showcasing her line of sauces and giving a personalized cooking demonstration as part of BRAVE: Secret Lives Second Chances at Harbourfront Centre on Thursday, July 11th, so get tickets now.

In the meantime, make her made-for-summer recipes (below): Jerk Ribs with Brown Sugar Rub, Pineapple Beef, and Sangria. Playlists included.



Serves 4

For the ribs

2 racks pork ribs (preferably St. Louis-style ribs; 2 to 3 pounds each)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 cup Brown Sugar Rub (see below)

For the sauce

1/2 cup toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons ground allspice

4 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled

1 to 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, seeded or whole (using the seeds will make the sauce very spicy)

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1 bunch fresh

thyme sprigs (see Ingredient Note)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

1. Position 2 oven racks in the center and preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Season both sides of the ribs with the salt. Stir the smoked paprika into the spicy rub and coat both sides of the ribs with the rub.  Place the ribs, bone side down, in a large baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and roast the ribs on the center rack for 2 to 21/2 hours, rotating the baking dish from the top to the bottom racks halfway through so they cook evenly. The ribs are done when the meat separates easily from the bone.

3. While the ribs roast, make the jerk sauce. Combine all of the ingredients in the jar of a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée until smooth. Transfer the jerk mixture to a saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until it darkens in color, 10 to 15 minutes. 

4. Remove the ribs from the oven, but do not turn it off. Remove the foil but don’t discard it. Using a basting brush or the back of a spoon, coat the ribs evenly with the jerk sauce. Cover the dish with the aluminum foil again and roast the ribs for 15 minutes more. Serve the ribs with the rest of the sauce on the side.

Brown Sugar Rub

Makes 11/2 cups

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons whole caraway seeds

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Use immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to several months.


3 rib-eye steaks, frozen, and sliced 1 inch thick

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 teaspoons black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee

1 tablespoon chile oil

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon curry powder

! cup pineapple juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar

2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas, strings removed

4 spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced on the bias (white and green parts)

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Steamed white or brown rice for serving 

1. Season the steaks with 2 teaspoons of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper and set aside.

2. Melt the butter with the chile oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, season with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and sauté, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Toss in the pineapple, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, cumin, and curry powder, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the bell peppers soften. Stir in the pineapple juice, soy sauce, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes to thicken the sauce. Increase the heat to high, add the steak, and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the peas and scallions, and cook for about 2 minutes to warm them through and take off the raw edge. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve with white or brown rice. 


Sangria feels like summer to me and everyone drank it like water when I was living in Spain. I serve it all the time when I entertain at home. It’s refreshing, delicious, and it looks really pretty in a big jug. Also it’s perfect for a summer barbecue or a picnic. You can make a red version with strawberries, black grapes, and oranges, or a white one with white wine and thick slices of citrus fruits. I like entertaining so it’s fun to be able to serve a good sangria.

Serves 4 to 6

1 (750-ml) bottle red wine (choose a mid-price Spanish red wine)

1/2 (750-ml) bottle high-quality tequila or rum

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A handful of mint sprigs

Fresh cherries, grapes, sliced apples, and orange wedges

1 (750-ml) bottle chilled sparkling mineral water

1. In a large pot, combine the wine, tequila, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the mint sprigs and fruit, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to marinate the fruit. Just before serving, add the mineral water and transfer to a glass jug.