Cooking and banter fill the air on ‘Just Eats With Chef JJ’

‘Just Eats With Chef JJ’ – What’s the dish?

Chef JJ Johnson

Chef JJ Johnson believes that the recipe for a successful dinner party is equal parts stimulating conversation and great food, which he endeavors to convey in a new series airing on CLEO TV.

In each episode of “Just Eats With Chef JJ,” airing Saturdays on the newly launched cablenet, the New York-based chef and restaurateur hosts a dinner party for family and friends at his hip, trendy loft in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem, preparing dishes from his restaurants and personal collection, serving cocktails and wines and just conversing with those hanging out in his kitchen.

Think of it as a hipper, more intimate and urban version of “The Chew.”

“There’s no television show out there like it,” Johnson says. “… We’re having these amazing conversations about everyday life, things that are going on in the guests’ careers. And then there are some issues that they just want to talk about. In one episode, we talk about the Women’s March and what it has meant to the world. We talk about relationships. We talk about religion. We talk about education and we truly have these great conversations. And what I’m showing is that food is the narrative of the best conversations you’ll ever have or the best moments.”

More a talk show than a how-to, the series does offer up food info as Johnson prepares dishes such as a chipotle barbecue shrimp, a collard green salad, a lobster pot and his childhood chicken parmesan, and he directs viewers who want to know more about them to recipes on his website. There are also segments on mixology and wine selection.

“I’ve been able to bring a sommelier on,” Johnson says. “There’s an episode where we drink some Turley from Sonoma Valley, which is my favorite red. We drink some Italian white. We do have a really nice wine selection. We drink some Japanese whiskeys on the episode. So just try and have some educational moments with food and alcohol to make sure everybody can swag up their kitchen.”

Guests appearing include rappers Yandy Smith and David Banner, actors Laz Alonso (“Fast & Furious”) and Naturi Naughton (“Power”), and former NBA star Stephen Jackson, all of whom eat, drink and are merry in Johnson’s kitchen.

“I hope people come away with that they can go home in their kitchen and do exactly what we’re doing,” Johnson says. “Invite their friends over, download some of these recipes, pour a glass of wine, have a great time and some amazing conversation.”

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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