Meet vegan Rastafarian chef and MC Spirit, who runs Ital cooking class at charity Made in Hackney

PUBLISHED: 17:14 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:35 13 September 2017

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

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

Emma Bartholomew

Vegan Rastafarian chef and MC Spirit is a familiar face around Hackney thanks to his cooking classes and old shop in Broadway Market. Emma Bartholomew met him the day after his slot at Hackney Carnival

Spirit with a dish of his Ital food at the Made in Hackney HQ. Picture: Tanya Harris Spirit with a dish of his Ital food at the Made in Hackney HQ. Picture: Tanya Harris

Spirit first came to England from Jamaica in 1964 to join his family who had come here on the Windrush.

“I was a bit more fortunate. I actually flew here,” said the 71-year old Rastafarian MC and Ital chef, whose real name is Lowell Grant.

He picked up his moniker at school when one of his friends started calling him Spirit out of the blue.

“I was a bit upset and we had a stupid fight,” he said.

“When you are young when you talk about ‘spirit’, you think about ghosts or something evil. But what he meant was he kept seeing me in so many different places.”

He worked as a welder in the UK for 20 years until he decided it was affecting his eyesight and lungs, and decided to “set up something more friendly”.

The father-of-nine began selling Caribbean food at carnivals and on the roadside, until he eventually opened his own food shop in Broadway Market, where he became a pillar of the community.

He has been fighting a legal battle against his eviction in 2008 ever since. But Spirit has found solace helping vulnerable young people learn to cook and eat more healthily through the Caribbean-style vegan Ital food courses he runs for the charity Made in Hackney.

“It’s about eating fresh, unpolluted, live food from the garden,” said Spirit. “What we say is it’s vital to your wellbeing.”

The plant-based diet is a key part of Rastafarianism, but Spirit learned vegan cooking from his mother and aunt who were Christians.

“The way I was bought up we only lived off the land. We used to grow our own food,” he remembers.

As a boy he remembers being taken to see his great-grandfather William Wedgwood Grant who was hiding out in the mountains in Jamaica.

The black nationalist who fought for workers’ rights was blamed for insurrection, and there was a death warrant out for him – but has since had a park named in his honour.

A Bob Marley and Burning Spear fan, Spirit was performing as an MC at the Hackney Carnival at the weekend.

“I find music very inspiring,” he said.

“It gives you a reason for living and continuing life.

“I find it helpful to people – it makes people happy.”

Spirit teaches Ital Caribbean food classes at Made in Hackney in Cazenove Road, Stamford Hill.

To secure an introductory price place for £25 instead of £60 tomorrow at 6.30pm email


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hackney Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hackney Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hackney Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hackney Stories

The O’s were forced to make a late change to their starting XI, but it failed to prevent them from securing a second consecutive 1-0 away win

23 minutes ago

A controversial licensing policy is set to be signed off tonight introducing a midnight curfew for new pubs, clubs and bars – unless landlords can convince the council they won’t be a nuisance.


A man from Stamford Hill has been charged following a police probe into sales of knock-off medicine.


A Canonbury crook who used his stolen moped to do a series of phone thefts across Islington and Hackney was yesterday jailed.

Yesterday, 23:06

In the week of the Carabao Cup final read the first in our series detailing previous Arsenal League Cup finals by talking to the people who were there. Kicking off is loyal long-term fan Martin Wengrow – who is in his 65th year of supporting the Gunners and has watched nearly 2,000 matches – as he recalls the 1968 Wembley showpiece against Leeds United.

Yesterday, 21:45

National League: Chester 0 Leyton Orient 1

For the majority of Arsenal fans a Wembley cup final is something to be savoured. However a long-serving season ticket holder from Islington, Glenn Allen is so disenchanted with Arsene Wenger he is boycotting the Carabao Cup showpiece against Manchester City on Sunday. Read on for his explanation which will shock many but perhaps strike a chord with some.

Yesterday, 18:10

Business chiefs have welcomed the news that the Night Overground service is extending to Canonbury and Highbury and Islington from Friday.


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

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists