From sweet tea brine fried chicken to New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp, the celebrity chef shares his all-time favorite dishes from his latest cookbook, Southern Inspired.
For Mississippi-raised chef Jernard Wells, delicious Southern-inspired cuisine is a great way to bring people together
—not just during the holidays, but all-year round. Now, the CleoTV “New Soul Kitchen” chef is sharing his all-time favorite dishes that are perfect for your upcoming holiday hosting or events from his latest cookbook, Southern Inspired.
Born in Chicago, Wells’ family relocated to Mississippi during his childhood, where his great-grandparents owned over 200-acres of farmland as well as a series of smokehouses.
“My father, who was also a chef, wanted me to have a Southern upbringing,” Wells told EBONY. “In the end, it worked out to my benefit, especially from the culinary aspect. Seeing my family’s love for food, and the way it brought our community together, inspired me to pursue culinary arts.”
With more than 24-years as a classically-trained chef under his belt, Wells is paying homage to his Southern roots and culinary ancestors in the newly published cookbook that offers recipes for everything from vegan dishes and holiday hosting, to small plates and more.
“This cookbook is a love letter to my family and those that came before me. As African Americans, we started this food thing. Soul food, and Southern food in general prepared by African American hands, traces back to the continent of Africa. As a people, we have mastered taking our roots and cooking styles and merging them into Western civilization. So my goal is to shine light on what our ancestors’ hands created.”
His cookbook Southern Inspired features more than 100 of the chef’s best recipes, and each dish has its own unique story. Whether you’re vegan, looking for new dessert ideas or hosting the annual Friendsgiving at your place, Chef Jernard has a dish for every occasion. We asked him to share three of his favorite dishes from the cookbook that are sure to be a hit as you plan your holiday hosting menu.
According to Wells, the key to bringing this recipe to life is using your favorite sweet tea and letting the chicken marinate for at least 24-hours in it.

This isn’t your average BBQ shrimp, and while it may take a little work to make up the sauce, Wells says you won’t go wrong with this recipe on your holiday hosting menu.
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For the plant-based eaters or even those just looking to incorporate more meatless options in their holiday hosting, Wells’ chunky buffalo cauliflower bites are a great addition.
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