NEW YORK, USA, Friday March 10, 2017 – Jamaican chef Debbie Solomon, who has been cooking for Barbados’ superstar Rihanna for the past four years, sticks mainly to Caribbean cuisine to help keep the pop princess fit and happy.
Solomon likely picked up a familiar Caribbean vibe from the moment Rihanna anonymously called her and requested a few test meals.
Trial dishes included curried chicken with rice, peas, and plantains, lamb shank, and pasta carbonara. It was only after the Jamaican chef passed muster that she found out who would actually be eating her dishes.
Solomon received a baptism of fire during her first few weeks on the job, which were spent preparing for the Work singer’s Super Bowl party, 25th birthday bash in Hawaii, and world tour. Since then she has become her friend as well as her personal chef.
Solomon told foodie magazine Bon Appetit that she initially learned about the Bajan and Guyanese cuisines that Rihanna was accustomed to eating and got tips for preparing them from the superstar’s mother.
“It was just, like, her mom coming up and saying, ‘This is how we make it’,” she said.
But although Solomon notes the similarities between the cuisines of Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica, she told the magazine that it’s sometimes tricky because names of ingredients and dishes can change depending on geography for the seldom-written-down recipes.
Solomon has also had to keep things flexible and change her meal planning to suit Rihanna, who she describes as a “moody eater.”
“[With previous clients] I would send in a menu on a Sunday or Monday and they would pick for the week, and then I’d be able to shop and prep, but this is nothing like that,” she told Bon Appetit. “We don’t know what we’re gonna want to eat tomorrow, so why even pick today?”
She nevertheless knows which ingredients always have to be in her kitchen.
“Every protein that you can think of, [Rihanna] eats,” she said, adding that rice and pasta are also among the star’s favourites. When travelling, Solomon takes along a “case of spices” that includes Maggi cubes, curry, cumin seeds, Adobo, and five-spice.
No meal is complete without hot sauce, moreover. Solomon explained that her job “literally depends on” having at least one bottle with her wherever she is.
To the Jamaican chef, meals are all about pleasure. She told Bon Appetit that she advises eating “everything rich and delicious” – in moderation, of course.
A typical day for Rihanna starts with a breakfast of four boiled eggs, one slice of toast (crust removed), and berries (pineapples, mango, and papaya are all welcome), Solomon said.
Chicken curry (drumsticks only) is a lunchtime favourite for the star, while dinner is often fish with salad or veggies.
By her own admission, Rihanna is nevertheless no saint when it comes to diet. She told Ellen DeGeneres that her tour bus and dressing room are packed with junk snacks, and, as she told Vanity Fair in 2015, “Legit, I have been in the gym every day this week because I am not willing to give up my food.”