As well as being one of the UK’s most exciting new hip hop artists, south London’s Loyle Carner is also a bit of a king in the kitchen. Earlier this month he hosted a BBQ at east London’s Dalston Roof Park. In association with GOMA, the Get Stuffed catering company and Borough Market, Loyle’s ‘Chilli Con Carner’ cookout saw him working with a team of young chefs with ADHD – a condition Loyle shares with the teenagers. We spoke to Loyle on the roof about making marinade in bathtubs, how cooking helps him deal with his ADHD, and how he’s trying to help others.
When did you get into cooking?
“My gran and granddad owned a hotel in Skye, in Scotland, right by the beach, and they managed the catering. They passed it on to my mum and my mum passed it on to me. So it’s been part of my life forever, it’s my favourite thing to do. My grandad was in the navy and used to cook this tomato rice but I found out years and years later it was jollof rice, an African dish. He used to bring back stuff from everywhere; chicken, rum and teriyaki salmon. Just wherever he learnt.”
How did you discover that cooking helps you with your ADHD?
“I guess it’s just the focus of cooking. There’s so many things you have to do at once that you don’t have the chance to be distracted. It’s instant gratification too – you do something and straight afterwards it’s there. For self confidence it’s brilliant, because you think, ‘Ah I’ve done that.’ When you’re at school you get told you can’t do anything so you make some food and say what do you think of that and they’ll say, ‘Yeah I think that’s great.'”
Tell us about learning to cook
“My mum taught me, my granddad and my nan taught me. It’s the thing I used to do before like, I dunno, iPhones. I used to get bored so quickly and I was bouncing around the house. I would always land in the kitchen and that would the one place that would hold my attention.”
Do you listen to music while you cook?
“Yes I do. I listen to a lot of old disco when I’m cooking; The Jackson Sisters, Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King, Shalamar. Stuff like that.”
Nice – so are you dancing in the kitchen?
“Yeah, I’m moving in the kitchen!”
How did your cooking school come about?
“I’ve wanted to do it forever, I guess. The cooking school happened two weeks ago and is for kids from 14-16 with ADHD. It a positive, brilliant thing and there’s like a beauty in ADHD and I think it took being in the kitchen for that beauty to come out. It was fantastic from the second we started from the second we finished. Everybody was focused on having a good time; positive, innovative, and good kids.”
So, what’s on the menu tonight?
“Jerk chicken. It’s my uncle’s recipe – I stole his recipe a long time ago. There’s one secret ingredient I can’t tell you about, but it’s just like any other jerk sauce. I made the sauce last night in the bath because there’s like 300 pieces of chicken!”
Listen to Loyle Carner’s new track ‘No CD’ below: