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~ A Guest Chef in Mel's Kitchen: Chef Jesse Jones ~

PICT2295My doorbell rang at 10:00AM today. It was not a surprise.  I could not wait to meet the "big guy chef from Newark, NJ". He and I'd been planning for us to get together for months, but, in the small world we all live in, our local WTAJ-TV 10 pulled it all together by inviting him to appear on their We Are Central PA Live show's Chef's Showcase segment (which, coincidentally, I have appeared on also)!

PICT2315Yesterday, "CJ" called to confirm. "Chef Mel", he proclaimed in his big, bold voice (which is full of Southern heritage), "I'm coming to hang out with you in your kitchen."  I was thrilled.  "CJ" and I met on Facebook.  I call him "CJ", and he seems to like that.  Neither he or I can remember who "friended" who first on FB, but great friends we are. Yes, my friends, Facebook actually does have it's good points!

Chef Jesse Jones is a big guy, with a big talent, with a big message:

PICT2311"It's all about the passion and love for whatever any one of us has. You've got to identify where you came from and where you want to go.  Once you do that, it is, scarily achievable. Family and children come first, but you can't make their dreams come true if you don't make your own come true too."

He's quick to comment on how the erratic hours of a culinary professional, especially if he/she is family oriented, are, VERY, difficult.

PICT2305Meet today's dream team.  Chef Jamison Steffen, on my right, is the executive chef for The American Ale House, right here in Happy Valley. Chef Jami is much more than a chef to me.  He is a 15-year personal friend and confidant, and, in terms of the culinary:  he is a creative genius who never ceases to amaze. Today, while "CJ" was prepping for his WTAJ appearance, Chef Jami was serving up his "to die for" lunch of Thai shrimp/noodle salad, and, Kobe beef with caramelized-onion marmalade ciabatta sandwiches!

PICT2348Lunch was what is referred to as a "working lunch", as none of us were seated.  We were all chatting and eating, while "CJ" continued to prep for his TV segment.  Chef Jami and Chef Jesse continuously talked about "chef-y, restaurant-y things". I, listened intently, and today folks, I did little more than preheat the oven and take pictures.  Chef Jesse even gave my set of Kyocera ceramic knives his chef's seal of approval!

MPICT2342agic happened in my kitchen today.  It had little to do with me.  It had to do with the two people around me.  The "old", relied upon chef/friend, welcoming a new one. The "new" chef/friend, so easily winning a spot in our "this guy is the real deal" minds.  The "this is what I'm talking about" reason to write a blog about my Kitchen Encounters!

Did I forget to mention CJ makes kickass cornbread too?

PICT2335 PICT2374Cook's Note:  Thanks to a place called Bittersweet Cake Design, (973-544-8689), CJ has his face on some totally awesome tasting cookies too.  I just couldn't resist taking a bite out of one of these lemony delish delights!

Extra Cook's Note:  To watch what CJ cooked on WTAJ (after prepping in Mel's Kitchen today), plus get his recipes, just check out the WTAJ Chef's Showcase videos on the lefthand column of my home page!  

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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Jeanne! Thank-you for both of your comments. Melanie's Kitchen was definitely a rockin' place to be on Tuesday. I can't wait for Chef Jesse's return visit this Summer... when we'll be making Southern BBQ!

Just checked out Chef Jesse's segment on dirty shrimp on WTAJ Chef's showcase link you have on the blog. What a charismatic guy! I am going to make "dirty shrimp" this weekend. Thanks for the link and thanks for posting this great guy on your blog.

What a great blog today! I am so happy the two of you finally met! I hope there is some cornbread left! Looks like everbody had a great time.

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