Harlem’s Chef JJ’s Under 30 Food Festival Winning Recipe

All the chefs and the judging panel at the Under 30 Food Festival (Photo: Glenn Davis)

The Under 30 food festival is no ordinary cooking competition. There are no secret ingredients, timed challenges or specific themes, just a requirement that chefs bring their very best to the table—and that they did.

From spicy chicken to smooth chocolate, all nine chef competitors bought their A game to competition, but two emerged as the clear winners of the night’s highest honors: overall winner and people’s choice. The young culinary talents that walked away winner was Joseph “JJ” Johnson, Executive Chef of The Cecil and Minton’s Harlem.

Related: Interviewed by Harlem World Magazines CC Minton and Alexander Smalls Honored by C-CAP

At the end of the festival, the judges called all the chefs to the stage to announce the winners, first Chef Chris Coombs’ with people’s choice and then Chef JJ Johnson with the overall winning dish: a goat dumpling that was the standout star of the night.

“I’m known for making dumplings and goat is starting to appear on many more menus and become more popular,” says Chef Johnson, who crafts dishes influenced by the African diaspora. “All nine chefs really brought it,” he says. “No one cooked the same protein or the same dish or did anything alike.”

“When Hanson said I was the ‘next great voice of food’ it meant a lot.”

The Executive Chef of Harlem’s The Cecil says that his team went through 1,800 dumplings during the food festival and, prior to the summit, his sous chefs spent eight hours cooking 30 pounds of goat for the competition. “When Hanson said I was the ‘next great voice of food’ it meant a lot.”

Related: Interviewed by Harlem World Magazines CC Minton with Chef “JJ” Johnson Talks Healthy Food

Here’s Chef JJ Johnson’s winning Goat Dumpling Piri Piri recipe:dumplings


For the mix:

4 cups roasted goat, shredded

½ cup canola oil

2 tablespoons ginger, minced

½ cup shallots, minced

3 scallions, chopped

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 head savoy cabbage, shredded

1 bird eye chili, finely chopped

1 teaspoon curry powder

salt and pepper to taste

For The Piri Piri Sauce:

1 onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 large piece of ginger, roughly chopped

1 orange, zested

4 bird eye chilies

1/4 cup peanut butter

15 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 cup orange juice

1 cup oil

salt and pepper to taste


For the mix:

1. Sauté all ingredients until cabbage is tender.

2. Cool completely and chop finely.

For the piri piri sauce:

1. Sweat onions, garlic, ginger, orange zest

2. Add bird eye chilies and peanut butter.

3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and orange juice; cook together until tomatoes are tender. Add

salt and pepper to taste.

4. Blend together adding the oil slowly to emulsify.

To Serve:

1. Carefully put the filling in a Twin Marquis dumpling wrapper.

2. Cook in salted boiling water for 3 minutes.

3. Top with piri piri sauce and candied peanuts.

Read the entire story here:

Photo credit: Chef JJ Johnson’s goat dumpling (Photo: Glenn Davis)

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"The Clark Legacy Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark and their work," this post is made in partnership with Harlem Cultural Archives, get more at Harlem History.

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