Legendary vegan Rasta chef and MC Jah Spirit dies age 71

PUBLISHED: 19:26 21 February 2018

Lowell Grant, who was known as Spirit. Picture: Made in Hackney

Lowell Grant, who was known as Spirit. Picture: Made in Hackney

Made in Hackney

The legendary vegan Rastafarian chef and MC, Jah Spirit has died aged 71.

Lowell Grant, who is known as Spirit. Picture: Emma BartholomewLowell Grant, who is known as Spirit. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Spirit, whose real name is Lowell Grant, was a well-known figure in Hackney thanks to his cooking classes and former shop in Broadway Market.

He started out selling meals and fresh fruit from his “signature van” at places like the Notting Hill Carnival, before opening the grocery shop in 1991.

But a decade later his offer to buy the premises from Hackney Council was ignored in favour of selling it to a property developer at auction, and he was evicted.

Spirit outside his fformer shop in Broadway MarketSpirit outside his fformer shop in Broadway Market

Spirit spent the last 10 years of his life fighting a legal battle against the council and lawyers over the handling of the case, which “sapped his energy, health and strength”.

He found solace helping vulnerable young people learn to cook and eat more healthily through teaching Caribbean-style vegan Ital food classes at the charity Made in Hackney.

Its founder Sarah Bentley, who was friends with him for 15 years, told the Gazette: “It really has been the biggest honour to have Spirit by our side. He supported me and my family for over a decade with his laughter, wisdom and homegrown corn-on-the-cobs.

Spirit is the face of the Wilkswood Reggae Festival 2018Spirit is the face of the Wilkswood Reggae Festival 2018

“He was an amazing community cookery teacher. People loved his often hilarious delivery style and natural way with people. He hated lesson plans and set recipes which always kept us all on our toes – he liked to go with the flow and cook from the heart.”

She added: “We spent many an hour typing and retyping out his legal case documents. I learnt a fair bit about the law that way but so much more about the integrity of never giving up when fighting an injustice.”

Spirit fell ill and was taken into hospital early this month. He was diagnosed with advanced cancer and died on Sunday. His children told the Gazette he will be “dearly missed” and they could “never have asked for a better father”.

Spirit at a Made in Hackney food class, where he taught Rastafarian cooking techniques. Picture: Made in HackneySpirit at a Made in Hackney food class, where he taught Rastafarian cooking techniques. Picture: Made in Hackney

“He kept us humble and taught us what true hard work is,” they said.

“He was constantly visited by friends and family in hospital, and also members of the Rastafarian community who played drums and chants for their elder.”

They added: “Our father loved to cook and had a caring and loving nature. His words of wisdom and legacy will live on in his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Related articles

Latest Hackney Stories

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has been speaking after Chelsea beat the Gunners 3-2 in a frenetic London derby. Read on to learn waht he said about Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka in his post-match press conference – and much more.

Arsenal centre-half Sokratis has said his side made it ‘too easy’ for Chelsea during the Gunners 3-2 defeat in the London derby at Chelsea on Saturday. Read on for what he had to say.

Yesterday, 19:25

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with his players in their 3-1 victory against Fulham but believes there is still plenty to improve on despite winning both of their Premier League matches so far.

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 in a breathless London derby after an 80th minute winner from Marcos Alonso sealed the victory for Maurizio Sarri’s Blues as Unai Emery suffered his second league defeat in two matches.

Arsenal travelled to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea in a hectic London derby. Read on for Layth Yousif’s PLAYER RATINGS

Yesterday, 18:35

The O’s secured a first victory in E10 this season, but may use the loan market soon, although David Mooney doesn’t seem likely to figure much

Yesterday, 17:25

Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 3 Fulham 1


To celebrate LGBT history month, Hackney resident Amanda talks about her journey to becoming a foster carer, with the council’s support and training.

Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Hackney Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists