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Michael Newman is the chef with muscles who shot to national fame on Fox’s “MasterChef: Legends.” The Asbury Park, NJ, resident is also the co-founder of the JerseyStyle lifestyle brand, along with his wife and partner Basia, and is an out-and-proud vegan.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, the popular social media personality and “Relationship Sexpert” explains how to celebrate the big day “JerseyStyle.”
Newman also shares an exclusive vegan recipe for making the perfect “Vegan Loaded Potato Cauliflower Au Gratin.” (Try saying that after a few Thanksgiving tipples!)
M&F: What makes Thanksgiving a JerseyStyle Thanksgiving?
Michael Newman: A JerseyStyle Thanksgiving is about being surrounded by loving and positive, like-minded people. These people should share the same visions and desires, which will help teach people to love themselves and others … so that they can live their best life!
How would you describe JerseyStyle to a stranger?
The way that I would sum up JerseyStyle to a stranger would be to describe my wife Basia and I as self-love enthusiasts, or lovers of life! Using the common emotional bond of food makes us more relatable and helps people to feel comfortable talking about the emotional ties they have in their personal lives.
This all begins with health, fitness, and learning to love yourself for who you are. Once you can achieve this, then you can begin to learn to love others too. When you are in good health, feel good about yourself, eat clean etc., you exude a confidence that cannot be mistaken. You can feel it in your mind, body, and soul, and these energies not only transfer to others around you, just as positive or negative energies do, but you also begin to live these feelings, leading to a happier, healthier lifestyle, and that’s what JerseyStyle really means to myself and my wife.
As someone who follows a vegan lifestyle, do you cook meat for other guests?
Yes! Absolutely! I always prepare non-vegan dishes including ham and turkey, candied yams, coleslaw, and other delicious non-vegan dishes. I especially like cooking pecan pie and my famous cannoli cake for the ones that I love.
Thanksgiving can be stressful for chefs. Do you prefer small or large groups when cooking for guests?
I love to cook for people no matter what the size of the group may be. Whether it’s family or friends, or just my wife and I. It’s just a joy, and I love nothing more than to make people happy … and my cooking will do that!
I do find that cooking for smaller, intimate groups is more gratifying for me personally. Not to say that catering for a large party of say, 100 plus doesn’t have its upsides, such as the pride in running a service that goes so smoothly.
What I really love about cooking for smaller groups is the immediate feedback I receive from the guests. The quality control, and attention to detail can be much more focused. When the guests love something that you have made for them, especially if it’s something that they have never tried before, I just absolutely love the feeling I get creating those positive reactions and experiences!
The skillful chef enjoys contributing vegan sides and desserts for larger Thanksgiving family dinners, and also loves to invite vegan guests to his dinner parties so that they can share the complete vegan experience. He calls these smaller gatherings “Friendsgiving,” and says that everyone in need of a warm, loving and positive space is welcome. With dishes like the below, we are on our way!