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