Levi Roots loves food. In fact, when I call him for a chat, he’s in the middle of lunch, and asks if I mind calling back.

When I do, half an hour later, he’s hugely apologetic: “I had a very late night last night,” he laughs.

“I had a bit of fish that I cooked from yesterday in my fridge, so I was eating that.”

He proceeds to tell me exactly how the fish was seasoned and cooked and I can hear the pleasure in his voice as he describes the flavours.

Levi, who grew up in Jamaica and now lives in Brixton, will be heading to Dorset this month to take part in the Christchurch Food & Wine Festival, on May 9 and 10.

The loveable chef, who won the nation’s hearts following his appearance on Dragon’s Den with his famous Reggae Reggae sauce, will be doing what he loves best at the event – demonstrating his Caribbean cooking.

It’s all part of his master plan – to put his favourite food on the map.

“I’m looking forward to it”, he says.

“With me, most times when people call me up it’s a school or university or it’s a load of bankers that want me to do a chat. These events, when I do them, I really enjoy them.

“I think it’s about inspiring. Whether I’m cooking for someone for their birthday or I’m cooking for 100 people, it’s inspirational. I’m lucky enough for people to see my brand that way.

“Because I was so rubbish on Dragon’s Den, people love to meet me,” he chuckles, “I’m very lucky that way. I love to inspire people to food and music.”

It was Levi’s grandmother, who brought him up between the ages of four and 12 after his parents moved with his older siblings to Britain to make a better life for their family, who inspired his love of both cooking and music.

Levi’s first ambition was to have his own band and he has performed with James Brown and Maxi Priest, receiving a nomination for a Best Reggae Act MOBO award in 1998. He was also friends with Bob Marley when he lived in the UK and performed Happy Birthday Mr President for Nelson Mandela in 1992 on his trip to Brixton.

For him, the music and food go hand in hand.

“It’s a vibe that we have around,” he says.

“My grandmother never had a boom box or radio, but she had the music in her head. That’s the memory for me. It was about the music at first, I did separate them. The music did not really make me a success, although it’s still my personal ambition.”

In 2005, Levi decided to merge his two great loves and set up a stall, called the Rasta-rant, at the Notting Hill Carnival, selling his beloved Caribbean food and homemade Reggae Reggae sauce.

“My first words with the sauce were ‘put some music in the food’,” he says.

“It’s great to have some music on. Every year we would get the same people at the stall because of that music and the vibe. “I saw a niche in the market for Caribbean food.”

Levi was appointed a mentor from the job centre, who advised him to take his idea further afield. He was spotted at a festival by a producer from Dragon’s Den and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I was just doing my thing in the crowd with the sauce,” laughs Levi.

“She never thought when she saw me I was going to be the biggest thing on Dragon’s Den, she just thought I would make great TV. But I had other plans.”

The show took Levi out of his “comfort zone” of Brixton, with his sauce soon appearing in Sainsbury’s and his brand expanding into books and a TV show.

“It was a fantastic ride to where I am now,” he says.

“People are still interested in what we do. You have to write books because we are championing Caribbean food, we want people to be cooking.

“The books have done fantastic for us, they help to put Caribbean food where it is now. I’m reading articles about goat meat – Caribbean food has arrived!”

Levi is thrilled with his success, but insists he is just doing what he loves best.

“I’ve got the two things that I never get tired of doing.”

  • Levi Roots will be at the Demonstration Marquee on Christchurch Quay at the Christchurch Food & Wine Festival at 11.30am and 4.30pm on May 9. See christchurchfoodfest.co.uk