“Everything is better smothered, dipped or poured—and food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in. We are the only species that cooks.”

This is what singer-now-hot-sauce maven Kelis is now known for—and her love of cooking, which has catapulted the star into the realm of being a television chef, a recipe author, and a food justice warrior, is what she’ll be bringing to the yard at next week’s Under the Toque charity event that benefits Mental Health America Los Angeles.

Launched in 2015, Kelis’ Bounty and Full sauce line—serving up everything apricot mustard and spicy aji to jerk sauce and varying glazes—has led her passion for food after the star graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2008.

Following a trip to Puerto Rico, where she discovered the act of chinchorrear, or spending a day going from kiosk to kiosk eating and drinking and discovering, she decided to take on cooking full-time. There, the plates of bacalaíto (cod fishcake) and alcapurria (deep-fried oblong rounds of plantain and taro root stuffed with protein, oftentimes crab), all washed down with cans of Medalla.

(And yes, food has affected her music: Her 2014 album was literally entitled “Food” and featured mini-odes to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean with songs like “Friday Fish Fry” and “Jerk Ribs” along with nods to southern roots with songs like “Cobbler” and “Biscuits n’ Gravy”.)

Joining Kelis will be chefs Antonio Villarin from James Republic at Courtyard Long Beach Downtown; Paolo Buffa from the Torrance Marriott; Chef Janine Falvo from The Mayor’s Table at Lido House; Chef Bernard Foster from the Hyatt Regency Long Beach; Chef Chris Garasic from the recently-opened Navy Proof Food & Spirits at the Westin Long Beach; Chef Victor Juarez from Fuego Restaurant at Hotel Maya; Chef Jose Lopez from the Long Beach Marriott; Chef Thuan Nguyen from the Hilton Long Beach; and Brad Romoff from the Renaissance Long Beach.

Under the Toque will take place on Monday, Oct. 7 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Long Beach Marriott. There is limited seating for the event. To donate auction items, sponsor a table or purchase tickets, contact Molly Ann Woods at 562-285-1330 ext. 1055 or [email protected]

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.