Chef Jernard Wells of Cleo TV’s ‘New Soul Kitchen’ Speaks on His Passion for Showing Families a New Way of Healthy Cooking
Jernard Wells is a James Beard Honored Celebrity TV Chef and Bestselling Cookbook Author best known from his numerous appearances Food Network & Cooking Channel shows. He has been featured on the “Today Show,” PEOPLE,” “Steve Harvey Morning Show,” “Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” ESSENCE, to name a few.
He is affectionately known as the “Chef of Love” because he uses food to unify people and spread love.
New Soul Kitchen is a one-of-a-kind cooking show hosted by the talented husband and father that brings viewers downhome recipes with a healthy twist in the series’ new, 30-minute format. Produced by CLEO TV, the show’s emphasis is preparing healthy menu makeovers with a taste of flavorful conversations on the side.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Chef Jernard Wells to discuss what viewers can expect from season 2 of New Soul Kitchen, the origin of his passion for cooking, and more.
Can you give us just a glimpse of the healthy meals and the flavor that you’re bringing to this new season?
We’re doing everything from gumbo all the way down to skirt steak and cilantro lime black beans! We are also giving you an amazing plethora of vegan dishes.
I have four amazing young ladies that are bringing their spin to the table to give something for everyone. We have vegan, we have American, we have seafood, we have Cuban. We even have a chef from South Africa from Gunyah that we created some of those authentic dishes.
The episodes this season are going to change the whole dynamic of the way you cook and the way you see food. Plus, with the recipes that we give during each episode, you can build your own collage of cookbooks, and start creating in a whole new way of healthy cooking in your kitchen. We do it in 30 minutes.
What was the selection process like to pick these particular chefs to come in and I’m guest host with you this season?
We went through months and months of just really just looking at a lot of the trendy chefs, their cooking styles, their authenticity, and their culinary point of view. Since I specialize in French and Cajun cuisine, we wanted to bring in chefs that complimented what I do and brought their own true flavor to it.
You talked about the production and everything that goes into each epiode. What is the production process like behind the scenes?
Before we bring any recipes to the table, or even to the show, we’re making sure that our recipes work, because what we’re doing is we’re sharing our recipes and our dishes with the world. We want you, when you create that dish at home, in the comfort of your home, we want it to turn out amazing. We want it to be easy for you to flow through it and get those same results.
It was months of going through the recipes selected for the show. I have a ton of recipes and all of them are amazing, but there’s certain ones that we wanted to put it out into the world for this particular season.
In addition to that, it’s long hours that we’re on set. We’re filming 12 to 13 hours a day sometimes – not because it’s taking us that long to create the meal – but because we have a lot of moving parts: set changes, wardrobe changes, preparing ingredients, things that nature. That’s how it is because we want to give each episode to you right. It’s about giving you true, authentic, tried and tested dishes every time.
What is your favorite heart-healthy dish that you like to make?
My favorite heart healthy dish is salmon. I really love a nice ginger salmon. What I do is I take ginger or ginger paste and mix in some cracked black pepper and smoked paprika. You can blend those and any other favorite herbs and spices that you may have together like Rosemary and Thyme. I let it sit for 10 minutes so those flavors can penetrate through the inside of the salmon. Then, I sear the salmon in a cast iron skillet with some olive oil or avocado oil.
With cooking the salmon that way, you’re getting everything healthy. You get an Omega 3 fatty acids from the salmon. You get in the garlic, which is great for the heart, and you get ginger, which is great for inflammation. You’re putting all those components together and getting it in a meal that is heart healthy and full of flavor.
If you could only pick two spices that are your favorites – your most go-to spices for your dishes, what would they be?
Oh my goodness. That is a hard one! I think some of my most go-to spices is [I really love] smoked paprika. Smoked paprika is kind of mild-mannered in flavor, but the notes of getting smoked paprika vs. traditional paprika really brings out the essence in meals.
I think my second spice that I really love – and it’s a combination of two – but I’m really an amazing fan of lemon pepper. When real fresh lemon zest and cracked black pepper are combined together, its outstanding. The citrus, and then you get the nuttiness and the spiciness from the cracked black pepper – it will give any dish life. I don’t care whether it’s seafood or whether it’s just straight vegetables.
You can watch season 2 of New Soul Kitchen with Restauranteur, Entrepreneur and Host Chef Jernard Wells Saturdays at 9 P.M. ET/8C and 9:30 P.M. ET/8:30C. on CLEO TV.
For more information about CLEO TV visit www.mycleo.tv and check out CLEO TV YouTube Channel. Viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@mycleotv) using the hashtag #CLEOTV
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