*Chef Jernard Wells knows that food is the ultimate unifier. The culinary kitchen artist, renowned chef and cookbook author, starring in the second season of New Soul Kitchen, produced by Powerhouse Productions and showing on Cleo TV, knows that great things can happen with a delicious meal as a backdrop.
“A vast majority of our life is revolved around food,” said Chef Jernard Wells. “We eat to live and we live to eat.”
Jernard Wells is back for a second season of sharing his secrets of culinary nirvana on New Soul Kitchen, but this season he’ll have a delicious twist- he’ll be featuring the culinary delights of four other chef’s- Chef Bren Herrera, who not only shares Latin fare, but also a mini-history of Afro Cuban cooking; Chef Essie Bartels, who adds her knowledge of Ghanaian cuisine; Chef Resha Purvis, an expert in Soul Food cuisine and Chef Ahki Taylor, who specializes in vegan cuisine.
“Everybody has a little vegan in them,” he laughed. “If somebody serves you a plate of food and it just has courses of meat in them, no side items, no vegetables, you’re going to feel slighted some kind of way.”
His show has something for even the most discriminating eaters.
“These young ladies are bringing some amazing concepts to the table,” he explained. “We have an Afro-Cuban young lady, bringing her Cuban diaspora to the table, we have a young lady from Ghana, Africa that’s bringing that culture in, immersed with Western ingredients, we have a vegan chef and we also have a keto chef.”
Being a culinary master is in the DNA of Jernard Wells. His southern roots provided a tradition for cookery established for centuries.
“There’s classically trained chefs, but with the vast majority of chefs, it’s already inbred in us,” said Jernard. “Growing up in Mississippi is really where I picked up my cooking roots. My father was a chef as well. I worked in the garden with him and my grandparents and growing fresh herbs; they had a cattle farm and a pig farm, so I really got that hands-on experience at an early age and started cooking at 8.”
He knew he had a natural flair for culinary artistry, however he needed the expertise to go along with his innate ability, so he attended culinary arts schools, including one located in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I majored in French and Cajun cuisine, if you bring them both together you get Creole cuisine, which is indigenous to Louisiana.”
The successful author and TV host knew that along with culinary talent, a key to success is entrepreneurship- learning how to make money doing a craft he loved. He ran his own restaurant, also at an early age.
“I opened my first restaurant when I was 16 years old out of my mother’s kitchen” he said. “It was a legitimate restaurant. I had a business license and everything that the local courthouse had gave me. But it was operational. I was making $3,000 a month selling food out of my mother’s kitchen.” To further his culinary education, in addition to studying abroad, the charismatic chef also studied at the Art Institute of Atlanta.
In one of the episodes, that will be broadcast next weekend, Jernard talks about his Apache roots. His Indian roots also had a profound influence on his abilities as a chef.
“It really about the herbs that you bring in from the ground,” he explained. “Utilizing rosemary, sage and different curries we liked to play with. But the biggest thing is more so the smoking (smoking food.) – when you get into the smoking- a lot of people think that barbecuing things we indigenous to the African-American culture, the African-American diaspora, but when you look at the Indian culture and how they were cooking, they weren’t using a grill, but they were using open-fire cast iron skillets, those things like that, using them to hone in on those flavors.”
One of the best aspects of the culinary experience is the opportunity of bringing people together.
“Food is the ultimate unifier,” said Chef Jernard Wells. “I’ve never seen anyone eating and frowning. It’s hard to do. Food has always been a gap-Bridger since the beginning of time.”
Season two of New Soul Kitchen returns with a double-header on Saturday, October 3 at 9p.m. ET / 8C and 9:30p.m. /8:30C.
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