'I managed to sneak on to a plane without a ticket'

First holiday memory?

It was a holiday and work trip in 1984, which was a gig to Jamaica to the Reggae Sunsplash Festival with my horn player Patrick. Believe it or not, I managed to sneak on to a plane at Heathrow without a ticket. It was a fantastic holiday.

Best holiday?

A trip in 2001 to Terracina in Italy, with my girlfriend at the time. It's my most memorable, tranquil holiday. I had a fantastic time. We went out of season so we had the beach to ourselves. I wrote lots of songs.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I have just come back from Ireland, where I always enjoy going. I first went to do a Jazz festival in County Cork in 1989 and fell in love with the place. I love the poetry vibe that the Irish people carry and of course Jamaicans have always had a close affinity with them. They love kissing there and so do I, so that's always good too. Whenever I go I have a great time, but Cork is my favourite place.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To be yourself. Then people will accept you if they feel a good vibe from you.

Ideal travelling companion?

Most of the time I travel with my mum; I hardly ever leave her behind. It's great to get away with her because I don't spend enough time with her and we can sit down and have a good chat. I like to see her really enjoying herself.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I'm a complete beach bum! I spend all my time at the beach when I am abroad. I plonk myself near where there's food and some nice eye candy.

Greatest travel luxury?

I have a comfort blanket – it's all coming out now! My youngest son, who is now 21, had it when he was born. I use it to cover myself when I'm on the plane.

Holiday reading?

I read a lot of cookery books. At the moment I am reading The Kitchen Shrink by Natalie Savona, because I am working with the NHS to produce diets for people who have mental health issues. Food has a great part to play in recovery.

Where has seduced you?

Italy, in particular Rome, which I adore. People are very fashionable there and I love fabulous clothes. I feel very comfortable in Rome where everyone is fabulous and beautiful.

Better to travel or arrive?

I enjoy travelling these days because a friend of mine works as cabin crew for British Airways, and she usually manages to upgrade me to first class, which is great with my long legs.

Worst travel experience?

My luggage ending up in a different place to me. I have some expensive suits so to be separated from them is dreadful.

Worst holiday?

If the place doesn't look good then I try to find beauty in the people.

Worst hotel?

If I don't like the place then I complain. I was at The Dorchester the other day and I had them change my room three times. If you ask, you get what you want. If you've paid for something, you should be happy.

Best hotel?

A hotel in Nairobi, which I can't remember the name of. It was one of those hotels where people stand outside your door and you clap and the lights come on. I was clapping Reggae rhythms to make the lights go on and off in my room.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I recently filmed my cookery show in Scotland and the drive from Glasgow to the Mull of Kintyre was unbelievable.

Best meal abroad?

In my beloved Jamaica. I pig out when I'm there. I go back to Clarendon where I'm from to visit my sister. She cooks my favourites, which were passed down from my grandmother.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Check out the bathroom to make sure it's all fabulous.

Dream trip?

People keep telling me about places like Thailand and Singapore so I'd like to go there.

Favourite city?

New York, because I have family there and I love shopping.

Where next?

I'm hoping to go away at the end of the month but I'm not sure where – somewhere with sunshine and a beach; perhaps the south of Italy or Greece.

'Caribbean Food Made Easy' with Levi Roots is on BBC 2 at 7.30pm on Monday. The book is published by Mitchell Beazley, £17.99