Work­ing through feel­ings with food and cre­ativ­ity on Tastemade’s ‘Just Jen’

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Tasty Tv - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

Feel­ing down, wor­ried or in a rut? Jen Phanom­rat feels your pain. In fact, she has a recipe for that.

In “Just Jen,” cur­rently stream­ing its sec­ond sea­son on the foodie/travel dig­i­tal plat­form Tastemade, the New York-born life­style per­son­al­ity shares her pas­sion for food and de­sign through a va­ri­ety of bright and eclec­tic dishes and crafts, believing that cre­ativ­ity – whether it’s man­i­fested in cook­ing, craft­ing or sim­ply liv­ing – should be ac­ces­si­ble, en­joy­able, in­spir­ing and ap­proached with hu­mor.

“We re­ally wanted a show that wasn’t preachy or au­thor­i­ta­tive,” Phanom­rat ex­plains, “but we wanted it to be re­ally fun. So we use en­ter­tain­ment as a way to explore a lot of real is­sues like men­tal health, fe­male em­pow­er­ment and cul­ture iden­tity on the ba­sis of cu­rios­ity and I wanted to do that through food be­cause that’s my big love. So by shar­ing ap­proach­able recipes and craft projects, I wanted to en­cour­age view­ers to explore these as­pects within their own selves and their sur­round­ings.”

Many of the recipes she shares are her own cre­ations and she credits her up­bring­ing in Jackson Heights in Queens, N.Y., for her eclec­tic palate. But this sea­son, the ThaiFilipi­no-Amer­i­can is also bring­ing in dishes from old fam­ily recipes that she says “are just feel-good ... be­cause that’s the main thing. I just want ev­ery­thing to feel good.”

Among the top­ics broached in Sea­son 2 are fierce­ness, love, mo­ti­va­tion, com­mu­nity, travel and sadness.

“When I’m feel­ing sad,” she says, “what do I want to eat? I want to eat some­thing that’s junk food but doesn’t re­ally make me feel crappy. So we made a ba­nana ice cream that’s kind of in­dul­gent but still re­ally healthy for you. But we also don’t put la­bels on things so we want peo­ple to em­brace their emo­tions and to fig­ure out re­ally what’s go­ing on with them and not be afraid of it.”

As for get­ting mo­ti­vated, there’s a plan for that, too.

“We have a whole episode ded­i­cated to feel­ing spicy so that’s some­thing I do of­ten at home,” she says with a laugh. “When I’m just feel­ing ei­ther lethar­gic or I need some­thing to kick my ass, I’ll add a bunch of spice but make it tasty, and it just rein­vig­o­rates me.”

The point, Phanamorat says, is help peo­ple ne­go­ti­ate what­ever mood they’re in through food and cre­ativ­ity.

“We know that peo­ple deal with these things,” she says, “and I wanted to share how I au­then­ti­cally nav­i­gate through that and how I try to make my­self feel good so that oth­ers can try to make them­selves feel good.”

Jen Phanom­rat

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