Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Interview With Chef Jeff Henderson-Host of New Cooking Show, 'Flip My Food'

Famed chef, inspirational speaker, author and Food Network personality, Jeff Henderson, has a new cooking show, Flip My Food. The renowned culinary expert who has run kitchens in some of the most exciting venues in the world, including Cafe Bellagio and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, travels across the country offering fresh takes on favorite recipes. 
For those not familiar with Henderson's story, he rose from rough beginnings and bad choices that resulted in jail time. He frequently speaks of his past, but more importantly how he moved beyond it to become one of the most respected figures in the culinary industry. I got a chance to catch up with Henderson to talk about his new show, and learn more about his recipe for success.

What can we expect from Flip My Food? And what do you want people to take away from it?
You can expect to see amazing comfort food with a healthier flip. I want people to walk away feeling they can eat healthier without compromising on flavor.
What is your favorite dish to make?
My favorite dish to make is stewed chicken. I like to cook this dish long and slow with onions, garlic and my favorite seasonings.  
What is your favorite meal to cook for friends and family and why?
During the holidays it’s all about my granddaddy’s version of seafood gumbo. When I prepare this dish it brings back memories of my late grandparents and their southern roots.
How did you discover your love/talent for cooking?What made you say, “I’m good at this?”
It was a dish washing gig where I discovered my love for cooking. One day I got a opportunity to fill in for a cook and everyone raved over the food I was putting out. That’s when I knew I was onto something.
People familiar with you know your story about how you began your career as a chef from prison. What is your best advice for someone who feels stuck in life and doesn’t know how to move forward to create better circumstances?
My best advice to someone who is stuck in life is (to) stay focused on your goals, build strong relationships that will help you get through the challenging times and most importantly, never give up.
What are some easy ways to eat healthy without feeling deprived, or having to sacrifice flavor?
Don’t cut all the fat out of your diet, just cut some and only eat the best and safest ingredients from the local market.
When you are not working or taping for TV, how do you like to spend your time off?
I spend quality time with my wife, Stacy and our 5 kids. (I also enjoy) riding my motorcycle and golfing.  

Thanks to Jeff Henderson for sharing his new venture and advice with us! To watch Flip My Food, check your local listings! Episodes will also be available online!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sherri Shepherd Says Goodbye to 'The View'

After seven years, today was Sherri Shepherd’s last day on The View. She had a wonderful send off, with invited guests, Arsenio Hall (who clearly still needs to be on TV), her gospel favorites, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin, topped off with a performance by Bell Biv DeVoe!

Sherri makes her exit from the talk show amid a great amount of personal drama. She is going through her second divorce from that man Sal, who she’s claimed defrauded her and stolen from her. And simultaneously, she has been fending off claims from her first husband, who has fought her for custody of their son Jeffrey. Damn, damn, damn. But through it all, I have to say, Sherri has held her head high, and walked tall.

Sherri gave a touching speech about her time on The View, enduring public criticism from people like Bill O’Reilly who she said called her a pin head. Harsh! I have definitely questioned Sherri’s qualifications to be at a roundtable providing commentary and analysis on (at one time) complex social and political issues. I have also disagreed with her outlook on certain matters. However, over the past few years I believe Sherri has grown and found her voice.

Yes, it took some time for Sherri to find her footing on the show. And frankly, I always felt that initially, she was used to be the show’s comic relief, doing segments that made her look a bit clownish. Real talk. But over the past few years I think Sherri stepped up her game, and was able to contribute more substantively to conversations. I appreciated her honesty about how she had to learn, and prepare herself to be able to speak publicly on topics she never had before. I also believe something went on behind the scenes, where Sherri was no longer being put in a position to be a comedic prop-whether it was a decision on the part of the producers, or her own.

It was great to see some of Sherri’s stellar moments on the show. I personally enjoyed seeing Prince. If Prince told me he loved me, in that voice, I’d fall straight out. And that time Janet Jackson surprised Sherri on the show was amazing.  I also loved what how Sherri’s guests and friends contributed to her last day.

Gospel artists Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin first sat on the couch and sang Sherri’s praises. McClurkin shared how Sherri sat with him in the emergency room for hours. Adams recounted the strength of their sisterhood throughout their own personal trials. Franklin talked about meeting Sherri at the Essence Music Festival, and implied his view of the stage was blocked by her boobage! LOL! The trio gathered at the piano and performed a simple, yet moving song about friends. It was beautiful. Then, it was time for Bell Biv DeVoe!

BBD came out and rocked it, performing their timeless hit, Poison. THIS SONG IS 24 YEARS OLD AND STILL GETS THE CROWD HYPED!!! Mike, Ricky and Ronnie, who totally trumps Pharrell’s vampire game with his eternally youthful look, got the crowd on its feet! 

It was a great sendoff for Sherri, full of fun, laughs and love. The part where I actually got teary is when Jeffrey, Sherri’s son signed off, telling us all to, “Take a little time to enjoy the view.” I love it when Sherri would speak of her son and how they triumphed over doctors’ predictions about his health. Those were always touching moments.

Sherri is actually a good actor, and I have no doubt The View is not the end of the road for this talent. As McClurkin so perceptively pointed out, Sherri’s next step is already in place, as it has been numerous times before. Sherri had a great career before The View, and she will continue to flourish. And Whoopi was right, the table won't be the same without her. I wish Sherri all the best in her career and in her personal battles. She has grown, and proved herself worthy of her time at the table.

Did you watch Sherri’s last day on The View? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Interview With Gina Cheatham of 'BAPS' on Lifetime!

The success of the reality show, Sweetie Pie's, put St. Louis on the reality show map. Now, Lifetime is debuting a new docu-series that features a group of black affluent friends from St. Louis, who self identify as BAPS. (Black American Princesses and Princes). BAPS, as with any reality show, brings the drama. The show, featuring Anisha, Brandon, Gina, Jason, Kristen, Kendrick, Rai-Rai and Riccarda has already stirred up controversy from viewers who got a sneak peek at the first episode at the Essence Music Festival.

I sat down with one of the show’s stars, St. Louis native, Howard University graduate, world traveler and accomplished cellist, Gina Cheatham. As part of St. Louis’ privileged community, Cheatham ‘s path led her to develop a background in marketing and business development as well as education. In addition to her professional accomplishments she also has a passion for working with youth and community services. This versatile woman lets us know what we can expect to see on BAPS! 

When asked to define the terms BAPS Cheatham admits it carries a negative connotation, and that calling oneself that is not something one does in public, but is more for “kitchen table talk”. However, she has her own definition of the expression. 

(BAPS are) a celebrated child of the struggle. We’re the first generation of material success who seek not to celebrate classism, but to enjoy some privileges our families have earned, coming up from slavery….We do not believe we’re better than anyone, we’re just happy to be better off than this (former) generation. 

How were you cast, and why did you decide to do the show? 

Riccarda asked me if I was interested in an opportunity to be part of a show that was more or less A Different World and the Cosby Show smashed together, fast forward twenty years, and put it on today’s platform, and give America a look into African American affluent culture….so when they pitched to me, that’s what it was supposed to be about….I was excited. 

From left to right: Kristen, Gina, Rai-Rai, Brandon, Anisha, Kendrick, Riccarda, Jason
How do you know members of the cast? 

Kristen, her and my parents went to college together. Jason, I’ve known him all his life. Our parents went to college together and his sister and I are close friends. My mother was his seventh and eighth grade teacher. Rai-Rai and I got to know each other through the show. 

Gina also shared that she knows Brandon from family connections in Texas. 

There are some moments where black women are not depicted in the best light. As with all reality shows there will be criticism about that. How do you respond? 

I can’t speak for anyone else, and I won’t. To know me is to understand that I don’t have a lot of tolerance for buffoonery, so I probably have the same response that other people share. 

In terms of my own behavior you will see me be tested. Mine is more or less, a bicker, I’m very animated…So in terms of my reactions I typically live by the three strikes rule. So when you see me get excitable, it’s because you’ve had warning after warning after warning. And now you’ve really crossed the line, and the line for me is when you don’t tell the truth…..The one time I show this reaction is when this line has been crossed and I’ve asked you two or three times, politely, to stop. 

The fact you are single and unmarried comes up on the show. Do you feel stigmatized by that? 

I don’t feel that way, but I think other people may perceive me that way. It’s a decision I have made. When the right one comes along, you know, I’m ‘bout it. I welcome that. However I’m not going to get married just for the sake of saying I’m married. I’ve been engaged twice, and I broke off both of those engagements. When you see the red flags, that typically means, stop. 

What can we expect from you this season? 

The same person you see every day. Fun, goofy, loving, caring. Don’t get me wrong, you know, I’m human. And there comes a time that I have to draw a line in the sand to let them know don’t let the smooth taste fool you! I’m a nice girl, but you keep stepping across this line and I have to bite you. 

What perception of you do you want people to come away with after watching the show? 

I live life on my own terms. I treat people the way I want to be treated. I give a lot of love. I try to be the voice of reason, the peacemaker. God says blessed is the peacemaker and I want to be blessed in this life. I’m truly a bubbly, outgoing, fun person. 

Why should people watch BAPS? 

Hopefully people will continue to tune in and see that there’s a lot of positive stories and messages and lessons in the show. I think everyone will be able to identify with each and every one of the characters on some level, whether you really, really like them or you don’t really like them. But there’s something about their individual story that (will make the viewer say) okay I get it. I’ve seen that before and it answers a deeper question you may have had.

It was great getting to know Gina! You can catch the debut of BAPS on Lifetime on Wednesday, July 23 at 10/9c

Monday, June 30, 2014

Spike Lee's Film 'Do The Right Thing' Turns 25!

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Spike Lee’s iconic and groundbreaking film, Do the Right Thing. The movie took place on a hot summer day in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, and explored polarizing issues of race. Debuting in 1989, it was Lee’s third theatrical release, and one of the first movies in the modern Black Renaissance that produced films authentically exploring the experience of Black America.

Do the Right Thing featured a lineup of legendary actors, as well as introduced new faces. Alongside the celebrated duo of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, we were introduced to Rosie Perez, whose dance routine at the opening credits remains unforgettable. Other players in the film include: Danny Aiello, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Robin Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, Bill Nun, John Tuturo, and Spike Lee, of course, who portrays Mookie, the irresponsible pizza delivery guy who’s at the center of the escalading racial tensions.

Recently Spike Lee threw a block party on the same Bed-Stuy block the film was shot on to commemorate the anniversary. Public Enemy performed the signature song from the soundtrack, “Fight the Power”. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also recognized the film with a panel discussion about the movie and its impact.

photo credit: The Academy
In addition to the events, a book featuring behind-the-scenes imagery is being released to celebrate this profound cinematic work.  You have a chance to win a copy! 

Just leave a comment about your experience with the film Do the Right Thing, and a winner will be chose and notified. Good luck!