Reggae Reggae Sauce millionaire Levi Roots is being sued by his old friend and former business partner Chef Tony Bailey,52, who claims Roots stole his secret recipe and took it on Dragon's Den 2007.
Roots whose real name is Keith Valentine Graham appeared on Dragons' Den in 2007 and became its most successful contestant and a millionaire, to boot, on the strength of his popular condiment.
But the former reggae star, 53, has admitted he lied on the BBC show when he said the secret recipe was handed down by his grandmother. When questioned in court, by counsel for Mr Bailey, Roots admitted that this was untrue and said he was trying to create the flavour his grandmother used to cook for (him). How she used to do what she called relish. He said he created the sauce from a basic recipe, and was trying to recreate the flavour of his grandmother's original jerk chicken seasoning.
Roots said: I was trying to recreate that flavour and that is the reason why my grandmother is on it. I thought it apt to put her legacy in there.
The Reggae Reggae Sauce proprietor also admitted that the sauce was not sold at the Nottingham Carnival and when he said that the sauce had been the taste of the Carnival for 15 years, this was just a marketing ploy. He claims that while the sauce was not sold at the Nottingham Carnival, he and Bailey sold jerk chicken and people came to their stall just to see Levi Roots himself.
Roots claims that his story about his sauce being the taste of the Nottingham Carnival was in reference to his reputation at the Caribbean street celebration.
Reading from the sauce label, Ian Glen QC, acting for Mr Bailey, said: On the bottle of sauce, it says Our family in Jamaica have been blending home-made jerk sauce since way back, and for years it's been the taste of London's Notting Hill Carnival.' Is that true? Roots replied: No, that's not true. It's a marketing ploy.
These were two startling revelations that came to light this week during an on-going High Court case wherein Roots is being sued by Bailey and financial advisor Sylvester Williams for more than '600,000. The pair claims that Roots cut them out of an agreement to launch the sauce together and claim breach of confidence, over the sauce recipe, and breach of contract.
Roots admits having a business agreement with Williams, but said it had been abandoned before his appearance on Dragons' Den. He added: Since Dragon's Den I realised what I have become to the public. It's become much more than just a sauce. The whole thing about Levi Roots has become so important, especially for black African Caribbean people.
Bailey says he created the sauce in Jamaica in 1984, and even came up with the name. Roots however says that the name came to him in a eureka moment.
Whilst cross examining Roots, Glen QC accused him of being a barefaced liar to which Roots replied: I disagree with that.
The court heard how Roots had written to Sainsbury's and had received a promising response from them. But it was after he successfully convinced Dragon's Den entrepreneurs Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh to invest in the product that the shopping giant snapped up the sauce.
Glen QC has accused him of using deception to get Sainsbury's to invest. In response to this Roots said: I was promoting the sauce. I was trying my best to promote the sauce in the best way possible. I didn't think that they would use the story, but it would be about the taste.
Roots also admitted lying in his first cookbook by denying his gangland past. He said: I was desperately trying to tell my story in a cookbook, which was totally unrelated to what I was now, and I found it very difficult to tell the story. I wouldn't say it was a lie - I was trying to market myself at the time. I was trying to market myself as Levi Roots.
Roots said that the sauce came from a basic recipe and that Bailey and Williams have no rights to the sauce or the business.
The hearing continues.
Photo Credit To Squidoo