Eat. Sleep. Create. Repeat.
Celebrity Chef T.A. Johnson shares how cooking can feed your creative fire, and techniques that will impress your foodie friends, but are really easy!
Like many people, I love to eat. I find so much joy in dining out and making food. But, most of all, it’s the happy feelings and personal connections that come from sharing a meal with my family and friends I’m so grateful for. Beloved Chef Julia Child once said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” I could not agree with her more, and that is why I’m so excited to have the opportunity to chat with my friend Chef T.A. Johnson, one of the most talented, charismatic and best people I’ve ever met!
If you are a fan of the Food Network, you may recognize Chef T.A. as a popular guest on Guy’s Grocery Games. He’s trained with influential chefs including Chef Peter Luger of the famed NYC steakhouse. He is also a four-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee that recognizes outstanding culinary achievement in the United States. Besides his many professional accomplishments, I absolutely admire his passion and commitment to creating amazing culinary experiences that inspire people to celebrate a good meal together. Best yet, with his sense of humor, you will find yourself enthralled and empowered with the confidence to create cooking experiences of your own.
Studies have shown that sleep is a powerful first step towards welcoming more happiness and creativity in your daily life. What you may not realize, is that the creativeness of cooking is also a well-known way to channel energy and boost your mental wellbeing, even if it’s something simple for yourself or others.
According to Chef T.A. these are some great things to think about to get yourself cooking!
Take your time – Cooking is therapeutic and a stress reliever. It is all about taking your time and appreciating what you are cooking. Food brings people together, and I tell my story of who I am through the food I cook. I want to impress people, and I follow the five second rule: I have five seconds from the first bite to refresh their pallet and see their reaction to my creation. If they enjoy what they are tasting, I’m happy.
Go back to basics – For the average person, you do not need to start your cooking journey by trying to create a 12 course meal. It is essential to learn the basics first. I was always told, if you can’t cook an egg properly, then don’t talk to me about cooking a filet mignon! Start small, and then work your way up a little bit at a time to eventually create more extravagant plates.
Be creative – You have to explore outside your comfort zone. This is so essential to become a successful chef. Do your research, go to a farmer’s market, and see what other foods are out there. Do not continue to go to the same grocery store that only has limited options. Learn about the ingredients you are working with, and try to put a creative twist on your dishes to avoid doing the same thing over and over. You must keep an open mind and remember you do not know everything – no matter how much experience you have!
A positive attitude and a creative mind are the first essential elements for following your dreams, and Chef T.A. has no shortage of either. He’s cooking up some big plans for us in the near future with the launch of brewery in partnership with his best friend called Counter Throw Brewery. This will truly be a “fresh” brewery and restaurant experience. Chef T.A. has an exciting menu in the works that will feature organically sourced ingredients from local farmers. He’ll be showcasing his talents with aged meats and smoking all the cheeses in-house. Another unique experience for guests will be an on-site veggie garden. Always exploring new culinary connections, Chef T.A. has plans in the works to open an all-inclusive wellness resort and restaurant called Eden that will specialize in cannabis infused dishes.
If you aren’t inspired enough, Chef T.A. shared his signature Royale French Toast recipe with us, so you can try an easy-to-make dish proven to impress everyone at your next Sunday brunch.
Chef T.A.’s Royale French Toast Recipe:
6 pieces of bread of your choice (I prefer brioche or challah)
½ cup heavy cream (can substitute with milk)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
2 tbsp butter or oil for cooking
Combine all ingredients besides bread and butter in a medium bowl
Heat a skillet to medium heat and put butter in pan. Once pan begins to slightly sizzle, it is time to cook!
Dip bread in the batter and shake off excess batter
Gently place bread in pan and cook each side for 1-2 minutes
Once cooked, take the bread out of the pan and place on a plate. Garnish with powdered sugar and syrup of your choice. You may also garnish with fresh fruit and berries if you are looking for some added freshness.
How does Chef T.A. Johnson sleep? He’s a dedicated side sleeper! “I am huge on pillows. I have to have a good pillow that helps with my sleep and posture. I have a little bit of sleep apnea so a good quality pillow with cooling features helps me big time.”
Photos courtesy of Chef T.A. Johnson
About Chef T.A. Johnson
Chef T.A. Johnson has had a passion for cooking since he was a young boy. Much of his inspiration comes from his mother and grandmother who could not keep him out of the kitchen! Being surrounded by a family of cooks, cooking came natural to him, and through this passion he developed a desire to share his experiences with others as well. He prides himself on the fact that you can feel the love that carries his soul into his recipes. He went on to further develop his culinary skills at Robert Morris University Institute of Culinary Arts, where he trained under experienced professors from all over the world from Germany, to South Africa, to California. Since then, he has been featured on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games and is a four-time James Beard nominee. Join Chef T.A.’s culinary journey on Instagram at @t.a.johnson_est88.
About Inventive Sleep, Inc.
Inventive Sleep is dedicated to helping people realize their dreams and goals starting with a great night’s sleep. Its founder, Sleep Products Innovator Tracy Laskowski Miller, is one of the most engaging and creative sleep wellness product inventors in the industry today. She is known for her unique perspective on sleep materials research to create and help people find their favorite bedding products. With more than two million sold since 2006, her engaging brands and sleep solutions are in homes and hotels across the country. The company is a leader in designing, inventing and marketing innovative combinations of comfort and technology to create sleep products and brands including sheets, pillows, comforters, blankets and mattress pads. For more information visit www.inventivesleep.com Sleep Tonight. Create Tomorrow.™