Interview with Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares star Momma Cherri

Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack was a 2005 revival of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and today she’s still just as busy despite the restaurant closing 13 years ago. Nick Moseley asks the questions.

I’m Charita “Momma Cherri” Jones. I was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, USA. I moved to London in 1978 and decided to make Brighton my home in 2000.

I’ve had many careers: professional stage manager, drama teacher, singer in a pop funk gospel band, chef and caterer, and YouTuber. I am an equality activist and foster parent who has cared for 85 children.

How did you get into the food world?

I’ve always cooked since I was little. My mother was a single parent, so as the eldest, I was responsible for looking after my siblings, including feeding them. I’ve always loved throwing parties and cooking for friends and family.

I come from a long line of matriarch chefs in my family and learned from my aunts and grandmother. As a student I lived in Mexico for a year and then in France and quickly recognized the differences in global food. Food is my love language.

How would you describe your eating style?

Unpretentious, home-cooked, stick-to-your-ribs, soul food. It’s healthy, full of flavor and packed with fresh ingredients.

Is it the same food you enjoy at home or do you have other favorite cuisines?

Yes, the food I cook for others is the food I cook at home. I love food from all over the world and my husband and I enjoy trying new foods when we travel.

You once appeared on Garden Ramsey’s TV show Kitchen Nightmares. Was that a good experience?

It was amazing. He came back into the kitchen with an empty plate!. I learned a lot from him and I know he learned a thing or two from me.

What did you do after you closed your Soul Food Shack and Momma Cherris Big House on Little East Street in Brighton?

I returned to nursing and also worked with inmates at Lewes Prison. For a time I went to Dublin to help out a struggling Cajun restaurant, training their chefs and passing on the knowledge Gordon had taught me.

I then started a YouTube channel with my daughter, which went very well. We have over 189,000 subscribers and love the support from Brighton and the UK.

I also host cooking experiences on AirBnB where people come to learn to cook a few dishes and then we eat together.

What other charity work have you been involved in and why?

I support the Starr Trust and have worked extensively with them to raise funds. I especially love the charity for providing such amazing support to children by encouraging and supporting them to achieve their dreams.

I also worked with the Purple People Food Bank during the pandemic.

I cooked over 100 meals each week using ingredients donated to the Tafel.

This meant hundreds of people received cooked meals alongside the food donated by supermarkets.

What are your plans for this summer and what about your upcoming residency at Coopers Cask in Hove?

I’ve been really busy showing up in many of the independent brewery taprooms across Sussex serving up my soul food classics.

I’ve also recently become head chef at The Cooper Cask on Farm Road in Hove. I then do on September 8th and 22nd every Thursday in October from 5pm to 8:30pm. We’re celebrating Black History Month in October with a range of special events including live music, quiz nights and more.

Can one learn to cook with you?

Yes! I host cooking experiences from my new studio kitchen. I am also happy to offer lessons at your home or as part of an event.

Any other future plans you can reveal?

We were extremely fortunate to have been selected to be part of a special program created by YouTube to inspire Black YouTubers with training, mentoring and funds to help them improve our ideas and our channel strengthen.

I’ve used portions of the fund to help with the rebrand and a new website, and renovated my old garage to turn it into a new kitchen studio where I can invite people to learn more about my soulfood journey and to share my passion for cooking.

I’m also in the process of launching my hand blended Cajun seasoning – I call it my love dust. Interview with Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares star Momma Cherri

Fry Electronics Team

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