“Food for The Soul”
Chef John “J.L.” Michaels was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, IL and as a kid, he didn’t like to eat much of ANYTHING! His mother would try to sneak him a plate of liver and onions on his highchair. He would ask her “Mother what is this?”
She would scream from the kitchen;
“It’s steak, just try it!”
But something within told him otherwise. She would slide out of the kitchen and sit at the dining room table and watch as he inspects the “steak” on his plate. He would look at the “steak” and notice the surface was smoother than normal and had these little holes in it. He would then cut the “steak” with a fork and notice how tender it was to cut and that the color was redder than he was used to. Slamming the folk down he looks up at his mother saying:
“This is liver! Nice try mother! You never served onions with steak!” She snaps her fingers saying “Damnit! Almost had you!” as she takes the plate from his highchair and fixes him something else to eat. All at the tender age of 4!
A few years older still one of the pickiest eaters around yet he wanted to prove to his mother that he too could cook for her. He begged her for a chance to cook at 6 years old; Finally breaking down from the constant pleading and droopy eyes she said yes.
“When I get back from the store dinner better be ready!”
When the door closed, he got to work. When she returned home, he served grilled double cheeseburgers, golden French fries and a fruit salad consisting of chopped apples (That were slightly brown), grapes that were cut in half and peeled oranges (To supreme an orange as a kid is a dazzling feat if you ask me!). The only thing she said when she sat down to eat was:
“Goddamn boy you made too much food!”
By the age of 10, he was still a picky eater and his mother had enough; He didn’t eat most food during thanksgiving and stuck with boring bland foods. Finally, his mother gave him a forkful of her potato salad and said to try it or else. He did and with that fork, he ate the whole bowl! From that moment on; she would make a bowl for him and a bowl for the rest of the family. (side note: I had an aunt that used to make me my own bowl of potato salad too😊)
As he became older, he was not only influenced by his mother in the kitchen but also his grandmother and stepmother; All imparted different aspects to his style of cooking.
After graduating high school, he joined the United States Navy and decided not to take a job in culinary but telecommunications instead thinking that:
“Most black folks don’t eat French food on the south side of Chicago so why should I learn how to cook French food?
He spends almost 10 years in the Navy, (rising to the rank of E-5); An unfortunate accident upon a Navy Vessel forced retirement as a disabled veteran. Once retired he worked as an I.T. contractor for the government all the while still cooking and honing his culinary craft.
It took over 20 years for him to realize that it’s not about the French food but the French cooking techniques that made a culinary career worth pursuing. Living in Williamsburg, Virginia at this time he went through a government shutdown which caused him to go on unemployment until the shutdown was over. He took his first check and enrolled in a ServSafe National Restaurant Association class to earn his Food Safety Manager certification in which he was among the top five in the class. He then enrolled in Culinary Arts, an accelerated program in Richmond, VA earning top student honors in the program finishing #1 out of 700 students.
The culinary arts have taught chef Michaels that there is STILL much to learn and you’re NEVER above a fellow chef OR cook. Treating people with respect will earn you respect.
His seasoning journey began one day while preparing salmon for dinner. As usual, he would go into the cabinet of over 200 herbs, spices, and various seasoning blends and put something together to sprinkle on top of the salmon. It’s a painstaking process because he never seasoned the same way for the right blend hadn’t come along. So, his lady walked into the kitchen while he was figuring out another blend to create for dinner and she says:
“You know what babe you should create your own blend.”
Then she walks out of the kitchen.
John is a bit stunned; So much that he stopped looking and begins to truly absorb what she said mentally; So profound that he immediately started mixing together a blend, he believed would perfectly accent the flavor of the salmon. He pulled out his trusty spice grinder and blended the ingredients. The fine green powder was sprinkled on the salmon which was roasted in the oven. When his lady had a forkful as well as the green beans that were paired with it, she looked up at John with a smile and said:
“This is it babe.”
This became Simple Seasoning (S²) Original blend.
Chef Michaels believes that the heart of a good entree is Flavor and flavor comes from awesome products and great seasonings. Few things will need something to give it flavor but most will need at least salt and pepper. Nowadays it is important to know what you put into your body in order to stay healthy. Simple Seasoning (S²) Table Seasoning blends support healthy lifestyle changes and not fad diets that deceive and are often temporary. 5 of the green seasoning are alkaline in nature and the two red seasonings are full of flavor excellent as an accent to your favorite dishes. There is nothing more important to chef Michaels than to prepare food that people will remember well after the event and with Simple Seasoning(S²) you too can prepare dishes that they are sure to remember.