Chef Joseph “JJ” Johnson has led kitchens like the award-winning Cecil in Harlem and JJ at the Henry in New York’s NoMad neighborhood, where he cooked the food of the African diaspora, inspired by his heritage and travels. Now he’s the chef-owner of Field Trip in New York, where he has locations in Harlem, Long Island City and Rockefeller Center. At his restaurant he serves globally inspired grain bowls that show how cultures around the world are connected through rice, featuring dishes like herb-marinated shrimp over coconut sticky rice with Fresno chilies and a green curry sauce; and steamed salmon with pineapple black fried rice and piri-piri.
During the pandemic, Johnson wasn’t just trying to keep his restaurant afloat, he made a difference. At Field Trip he cooked bowls first for health care heroes and then for people in his community—from kids missing out on lunch with schools closed to churches distributing to people in need. Even after adding two new restaurant locations, he’s still preparing and donating meals every week from his original Harlem location.
At our Culinary Masters event this year in San Diego, Johnson prepared oxtails and rice grits for the gala dinner that raised nearly a quarter-million dollars for charity, and then led a cooking class showing how to prepare mango-glazed halibut. Before his pupils filed in for his demonstration, he gave us some helpful tips on chopping and slicing vegetables, specifically okra, onions and scallions. Check out his knife skills in the video above and incorporate them into your repertoire in the kitchen.