SINCE the government’s stay-at-home orders have been implemented because of the covid19 pandemic, entertainer Leon Coldero has been making a splash on social media. Using the hashtag Cooking With Leon, he has been posting pictures of various dishes of his home-style cooking.
Newsday contacted the singer to find out more about his cooking skills.
Coldero is well known in the soca parang world and for quite some time he has been producing songs every Christmas to celebrate the occasion.
The singer is now stuck in Trinidad since Carnival. Coldero, who lives in Orlando, Florida, did not see his homeland around Christmas for almost 30 years even though he was producing songs for the season.
He broke that trend in 2017 and has returned for Christmas into Carnival over the last few years.
He was unable to return to Orlando before the borders were shut. He says he does not mind being here because this is also home and there is not much you can do but obey the rules set down by those in authority.
“I am using my time at home to show a different side of me. I love to cook and I enjoy sharing my dishes with people. Food seems to be a big thing on social media during this time,” Coldero said.
Over the last few weeks he has posted dishes like callaloo, stewed chicken, fried ochro, cassava dumplings, chicken foot souse, pelau, dhalpuri and curry chicken. In the line of desserts he did sweetbread, cassava pone and his debut at making kurma. He even showed off some herbs to make bush tea.
Coldero said he had no official culinary training, not even from his mother, “My culinary skills are home-grown, I learned by watching my mom and sisters. I always liked food, I like to eat so as a boy I was always close to the kitchen.
“There was a particular sound I used to make (ho ho) and my mother will simply say, ‘wait, wait.’ Back then in Longdenville, Chaguanas, Mother would knead flour to make bake but put it down for a while before baking. I would make my sound and when I get the bake, whether her I ate it or not, I would get licks for being impatient.”
Coldero said he was determined to cook a meal for himself and when he turned 16 he gave it a try.
“I actually cooked rice, peas, dhal and chicken to perfection and my family enjoyed the meal, albeit still very surprised.”
From then it was no stopping. Now when he cooks he does not want anyone in the kitchen.
“I don’t taste my food while cooking and I don’t like anyone coming in my pot before it is finished. Not that I don’t like company but don’t come near my food until I give it to you. You can eat and enjoy and come back for more, I am quite alright with that.”
Coldero said his family was always involved in food. “My uncle is a chef, my aunt is very good at cooking and my sister owns a roti shop. It’s like everybody can cook, even my 15-year-old son, Jordon, can cook and I am very much open to owning a restaurant one day.”
He feels the beauty of it is that he can cook whatever kind of food he feels to eat, Italian, creole, Indian or Asian. “I am very open to all types of food.”
“I don’t have a problem in staying home, nor with not having the modern-day luxury food items. I am a country boy and I will survive. My mother always told us to make do with what you have.
“The time has come for us to go back to what we used to call poor people food, things like green fig, chicken foot, chicken liver and ground provisions. We really don’t need bottled water, paper towel or fancy juice in a box. We have to go back to herbs, bush tea and fruits for survival.”
On a personal note Coldero said, “There are things people don’t know about me, although I am in the public’s eyes all the time I am a very shy person. I am OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), I don’t like crowds. Even though I might sing to thousands of people I cannot be in a crowd. I love the country life and I also love spending time in the gym.”