Jamar Rogers is nothing short of an inspiration. The singer uses his performances on The Voice and American Idol as a platform to address the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, opening up on a topic that many are afraid to discuss. Rogers recently moved to L.A. from the Bronx, bringing with him a New Yorker’s penchant for Cafe Bustelo and dining out. “I love to cook, but not as much as I love to eat,” he says, admitting that he spends very little time in his home kitchen. The 30-year-old entertainer took an evening off from recording a new single to talk with Grub Street about his passion for hot sauce, an addiction to coffee, and the frustrations of using chopsticks, in this week’s L.A. Diet.
Wednesday, August 15
I always start my day with two cups of coffee, minimum. You’re talking to an ex-meth head, so I need something to really jolt me awake. Other than that, I’m not a big breakfast person.
For lunch, I went to Subway and had a turkey sandwich with all the fixins, and lots of jalapenos. I love, love, love spicy food. Did you know there’s an entire hot sauce shop inside the Fairfax Farmers Market called Light My Fire? It’s like heaven! Two of my favorite hot sauces are Frank’s Red Hot and the ‘Rooster Sauce,’ Sriracha. I couldn’t live without it. My dad’s family is from India, and my mom is black, so that might be where the love of spice came from.
That night I was up at Camp Hollywood HEART. They are a really awesome nonprofit that hosts an arts camp for kids impacted by HIV and AIDS. I ate dinner with the campers, which was pretty good: hummus, falafel, Israeli couscous salad, pita, and some rice.
One thing I have to admit is that I have a tendency to pick up fast food late at night. I went to Carl’s Jr. and grabbed a Western Bacon Cheeseburger and some zucchini fries and called it a night.
Thursday, August 16
Breakfast didn’t happen that morning. Well, except for coffee of course. I was introduced to Cafe Bustelo in the Bronx. I had like three chest hairs before, and it gave me like three more because it’s so strong.
I rehearse in a church in North Hills, so I spend some time in the Valley. There’s a new Italian place in Studio City called Cafe Pagliacci’s, and we swung by there after rehearsing.
My drummer’s girlfriend had a gig in Ventura, so we ate out there at a place called Zoe’s. I ate a lot that night. I had some Greek salad, calamari, and pork ribs that were a special, and two Hoegaardens.
Friday, August 17
I had coffee to start the day, and then headed over to City Walk to get ready for my show that night. The stage was right by Hard Rock, so I had a club sandwich with some bacon. Normally I’m not really a pork fan, honestly. I’m definitely more of a seafood guy. Being born in New Orleans, I was raised sucking the heads off of crawfish, eating gumbo and shrimp and all that good stuff. When I got older I learned to love oysters and mussels. The only seafood I don’t eat is trout. Other than that, I’ll eat it all. Shark, swordfish, you name it.
Saturday, August 18
I woke up feeling so drained. I mean, there are certain days where I’m just not hungry because of the HIV and the medications. I really need to train my mind to eat again. This week was pretty good though. I went over to Starbucks and grabbed a egg breakfast sandwich with bacon and smoked Gouda and a coffee.
On our way back up to Camp Hollywood HEART, we stopped over at a big party in Malibu with a bunch of folks from WME. I grabbed some watermelon and some nuts and glass of wine to hold me over ‘til that night.
After my show, I stopped at Carl’s Jr. again. That’s definitely my favorite fast food place.
Sunday, August 19
I had a song writing session in the studio that morning. I ran thru Taco Bell on the way in and got a Mexi-melt.
Around lunch time, I stopped by The Voice to give a pep talk to their new season 3 contestants. After that, I went to Panda Express, and then came home and got a pizza from Santa Monica Pizza Kitchen. I got some pizza and chicken wings. I LOVE them. I will clean the meat off that bone, but it’s gotta be with ranch.
For dinner, I tried Bar Hayama. I had lobster miso, toro sushi, aji, and some spicy tuna crispy rice cakes. I am definitely a sushi guy. I could probably live on it. I don’t eat urchin, but everything else, I’m good. But I’ve never been able to operate chopsticks. I’ve tried a million times. I just get so frustrated and throw them down, and I’m like “Screw it. I just want to eat!”
Monday, August 20
For breakfast I went and used up the rest of my Starbucks gift card. I got a veggie panini and some Greek yogurt. Uh, yeah, I don’t like that stuff. I gave it another shot, but it’s just tart and thick and gross.
I ordered Indian food for lunch, but it was enough for lunch and dinner. Indian is one of my favorite foods. Well, that and Thai. I love anything with spice. I had some lamb korma, naan, some fried fish, and some saag paneer, with those awesome chutney sambals. Honestly, I can’t remember the name of that place. I’m just now figuring out L.A. What I do love is Roscoe’s and In-and-Out. They are awesome.