CLEO TV’s ‘New Soul Kitchen’ shows how to make quick, easy, healthy dishes

‘New Soul Kitchen’ – Decadent dishes made quick and low-cal

Chef Jernard Wells

Those who like their cooking instruction in small bites – pardon the pun – might want to check out a short-form culinary show debuting this week on CLEO TV.

In “New Soul Kitchen,” premiering Saturday, March 16, chefs Jernard Wells (“Food Network Star”) and Porsche Thomas (“Hungry”) are the hosts of 10-minute episodes that follow each as they prepare an easy-to-make recipe. All revolve around a common theme but are approached from different angles, as Wells specializes in Southern cuisine and Thomas leans vegan. So for example in an episode with the theme “Between Two Buns,” Wells prepares a smoked gouda cheeseburger while Thomas whips up a vegan sloppy joe. And each is done in a five-minute segment filmed in real time with no breaks or time lapses.

“There’s not a lot of room for error,” Wells acknowledges. “And the thing is, you have to be on point. But cooking in real time is really how we want to show (the food prep) because that’s how if you’re at home cooking in the comfort of your home, you’re cooking in real time. And we want to teach people that cooking is not a bad thing because some people are like, ‘Cooking? Oh, I gotta go in the kitchen and slave over the stove.’ It can actually be fun and you can do it in a fraction of the time.”

Among the dishes on the “Kitchen” menu are Wells’  hot water cornbread, smoked turkey collard greens and a smoked four-cheese mac, while Thomas’ creations tend toward things like a vegan lasagna, a scrambled tofu breakfast burrito and a blueberry cheesecake made with cashews. Despite what appear to be waist-expanding foods – especially Wells’ meals – both chefs found ways to reduce calories from their dishes through simple measures such as baking a fried chicken to reduce fat content.

“It’s the braising method,” Wells explains. “You fry the chicken just long enough to get the crust the way you want it and you finish it off in the oven to extract the remaining grease out of it. … Because what ovens do is they extract, they dehydrate. So if you fry some fish or fry some chicken, you put it in the oven afterwards on an oven rack, at least 40 percent of the grease will drain back out of it.”

Both chefs believe there is a lot of emotion associated with cooking and Wells maintains that Southern cuisine to him is “cooking with love.” Both endeavor to bring that to the show and their dishes.

“For me, I had so much emotional association with food and so I only make the foods I’ve always loved growing up,” Thomas says. “And I just found ways and played with recipes to find ways to make that same dish but like vegan. So it’s definitely that same idea of putting your history into it and just creating that thing that sparked that same thing in you that it always did growing up.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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