Welcome to Juice’s spotlight! I wanted to use this page of the site to show love and highllight other food enthusiasts, chefs and those offering a different perspective in the food world.
“…I’m liable to go Michael, take ya pick, Jackson, Tyson, Jordan game 6..” Chef Joesph “JJ” Johnson
While randomly reading the tweets of people voicing their displeasure with Chadwick Boseman getting snubbed at this year’s Oscars (shocker), it made me think about an episode of @learnlife podcast then Food Network. Almost every time I watch that channel, I always think about their lack of diversity. With each show and every episode, it becomes crystal clear that something is missing. Where are the shows featuring chefs that look like me? Now they do an ok job at having people of color as judges on shows like Chopped and Guy’s Grocery Games. Or having one or two chefs of color hosting their own show. But the question I ask myself often, is why aren’t more of these chefs not being given a chance to show off their talents and recipes that represent people that look like us?
I could go on about this topic all day, especially after researching this issue and getting hit with all the scandals from a lot of their top stars. However, I will save that for another day. While I do have you here, I want to take the time to shoutout a network, and in particular, a show and its chef that doesn’t have that problem, Cleo TV.
Cleo TV launched in January 2019. If you visit their site, they describe themselves as “…an aspirational lifestyle and entertainment cable network targeting Millennial and Gen X women of color.” It’s a channel, in my opinion, that is helping to pick up the slack in the television world when it comes to programming for us. Cleo TV offers programming that showcase travel, home design, relationships, cooking etc. Even though the network is still new, it has the potential to grow into a network that can be around for a long time. You can also stream Cleo Tv on AT&T tv if your cable provider ::looking at you RCN:: doesn’t carry it.
I wanted to give some flowers to one of their cooking shows and the chef that stars. For those not familiar, the show I’m talking about is “Just Eats with Chef JJ.” Chef Joseph ‘JJ’ Johnson, who’s from the Pocono area, (where I’ve relocated to after college) is a James Beard Award winning chef and author. He is the founder of Ingrained Hospitality Concepts LLC. Which is “a collaboration of industry professionals dedicated to creating great restaurants while sharing international cuisine with amazing hospitality.” They recently opened FIELDTRIP, which is “a community-driven rice bowl shop born in Harlem that celebrates culture through the shared experience of rice.” Chef JJ published his first cookbook in 2018, “Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day.” Between Harlem and Heaven is full of recipes and stories from Chef JJ’s and co-author, multi-talented restaurateur Alexander Smalls. The birth of this book came from their combined three decades of traveling the African diaspora, meeting and eating with chefs of color, and researching just how far and how they intersected. These recipes are full of big flavors, just like the people and places they represent.
Chef JJ’s show is what’s needed in the world of culinary tv. A young, relatable chef making recipes with big bold flavors for some of today’s biggest celebrities and influencers. More importantly, he is representing the people that seem to get lost in the shuffle, misrepresented or just ignored completely. I also personally enjoy his show so much because it reminds me of when my friends and I get together. Just like the show, it’s just great food, drinks and vibes with dope people. When I was living in Scranton and discovered my cable provider had Cleo TV, Just Eats with Chef JJ was the first show I made sure to catch. Any weekend I wasn’t driving to my lady’s house, Saturday night, I’m in the kitchen, Chef JJ on, cocktail/wine in glass and ready to cook. His show brings a youthful and exciting energy to cooking, that other networks and shows miss the mark with. I encourage you to check the show out and his recipes. So, I wish you Chef JJ much continued success, and appreciate you and Cleo TV for representing us. Cant wait to see you really become the Jordan of the culinary world.