Chef JJ Johnson Creates New Culinary Program at Blue Llama Jazz Club

The jazz-inspired menu includes perch escovitch, pineapple-glazed filet mignon, jerk prawns, and more.
Photograph courtesy of Chef JJ Johnson

Chef JJ Johnson, a James Beard award-winning cookbook author, TV host, and restaurateur will take on the role of Creative Culinary Director at Ann Arbor’s  Blue Llama Jazz Club later this month to develop a culinary program based on the club’s dynamic jazz performances. The menu will bring the spirit and flavors of American jazz meccas like Harlem and New Orleans and reflect the roots of the rotating jazz performers and their styles.

Based in Harlem, Chef JJ has become known for his Afro-Caribbean cooking style, which reflects the flavors of Barbados, Puerto Rico, and the American South. He won a James Beard award for his cookbook, Between Harlem and Heaven. He also released a new cookbook, The Simple Art of Rice, this past fall.

This new concept marks Chef JJ’s first in the Midwest, but he is no stranger to the jazz club dining scene. He previously held the Executive Chef position at Minton’s Playhouse, the historic New York jazz club known as the birthplace of bebop.

Coming April 17, Chef JJ will deliver a menu including a three-course prix fixe featuring dishes such as scallop and shrimp ceviche with coconut, jalapeno, lemongrass, and roti chips; jerk prawns served shell-on with housemade jerk and citrus; and leeks yassa with alliums, dijon, citrus, and pistachios. Also, perch escovitch with green papaya, poblano, and red peppers and pineapple-glazed bone-in filet mignon with scallions and a black garlic emulsion.

The menu will be served during the evening performance and can also be ordered a la carte. A bar show menu will also be available for pre-show bites and late-night snacks.

Chef JJ hosts CleoTV’s Just Eats with Chef JJ, which is currently in its fifth season, and he is nominated for Best Chef in New York State for his multi-location, community-focused rice bowl shop, FieldTrip.

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