What's up with "Food Network Star' 'Chef of Love' Jernard Wells?

Posted Thursday, May 24, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jernard Wells of Grayson, a gregarious married man with nine kids best known as "The Chef of Love," almost won "Food Network Star" two years ago. He is back this Sunday to try to win it this year by competing on "Comeback Kitchen" with seven other past contestants. Only one will make it on the regular "Food Network Star" show.

The other seven contestants are:

Yaku Moton-Spruill, fourth place, season 12

Trace Barnett, eighth place, season 13

Sarah Penrod, third place, season 10

Monterey Salka, ninth place, season 12

Debbie Lee, third place, season 5

Amy Pottinger, fifth place, season 13

Adam Gertler, second place, season 4

Wells has kept himself busy the past two years. I had lunch with him earlier this month at Midtown's South City Kitchen (a favorite of his) soon after he returned from radio host Tom Joyner's annual week-long cruise where he did cooking demonstrations and won a mini-"Chopped"-style competition for the second year in a row.

Since 2016, he has written two books, "Southern Modified" and "Road Map: A Woman's Guide to Good Man." He does food festivals every couple of weeks. He shot a documentary and launched a Facebook cooking show with Steve Harvey's former right-hand man Rushion McDonald . He makes regular appearances on TV One and Tegna's daily talk show "A Sister's Circle." He recently appeared on Harry Connick Jr.'s talk show. He's a Big Green Egg ambassador. He offers a "Chef of Love" catered experience for folks willing to pay for it, including New Edition's Ricky Bell for his 50th birthday.

In other words, the man works.

"He is authentic, entertaining, charismatic and the next big TV chef," McDonald raved to me via text. "He wants to be a star and has built a resume by hustling that showcases his cooking range."

"The key with anything," said Wells, "is staying relevant. That's my biggest thing. I knew if I stayed relevant, I'd make my insurability with Food Network. That led me back to 'Comeback Kitchen.' It doesn't hurt to be seen by 1.5 million on Food Network."

And Wells loves what he does. "This isn't even working for me," he said. "It's a lifestyle."

For him, "my biggest fulfillment is sharing what I love with the rest of the world. That's all I want to do. My passion for cooking and what I do at home for all my friends and family."

He credits that passion to his dad, a chef who died when Wells was just 16.

And here he is after our lunch at South City Kitchen promoting "Comeback Kitchen" and himself:


"Comeback Kitchen," debuting Sunday, May 27 at 9 p.m. on Food Network

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.