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Janet Johnston Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Janet JohnstonSpice & Easy premieres Saturday April 24th at 9:30am ET/PT (8:30am CT), which will be hosted by Denver-based spice shop owner and avid home cook, Janet Johnston. Janet and her husband, Mike, own and operate four locations of Savory Spice Shop in Denver, Littleton, Boulder, and Lowry Town Center (in Colorado). They also recently started a franchise business with one shop opening in Colorado Springs and more on the way. In August 2008, Savory Spice Shop was featured on the Denver episode of Food Network's Road Tasted with the Neelys as a standout local business. Since then, Janet and Mike have appeared on episodes of Paula's Best Dishes and Down Home with the Neelys to cook up some of their favorite spice-filled delights. Now, Janet is thrilled to share her spice savvy with Food Network viewers on Spice & Easy. Janet is passionate and very knowledgeable about spices, and she really wants to connect with fellow home cooks to demonstrate how simple it can be to reinvent classic dishes with a creative use of spices, proving that great seasonings can only enhance a meal. This is a very interesting and new concept for Food Network. Check out more at http://www.foodnetwork.com/spice&easy.

I had a chance to speak with Janet Johnston about spices, cooking, and the Spice & Easy television show.

Question:
For Spice & Easy, how long did you have to spend beforehand putting it together and testing the recipes?

Janet Johnston:
That's a great question. The first thing is that Mike and I, since we've opened our stores six years ago now, have been doing that from the start. We create all of our own blends - we've got over 140 now. Everything from your classic - we've got our lemon pepper. we've got our garlic pepper, but two completely original blends. As I am sure you can imagine, being a cook yourself, you test, you retest, and retest again. We're testing these blends and we're cooking the whole time. So when we produce a blend and put it out on our shelf, we also usually nine time out of ten have an amazing recipe that goes with it, that really showcases that blend.

So we kind of came to this whole TV venture armed with our own repertoire of recipes, and we're constantly making more. We just created a new blend called "Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning." The chile lime thing is really hot now, everyone was asking for this." Aji Amarillo chiles are absolutely amazing. We created a dish, and we're still working on it, that's called Chicken Cordon Peru. It is wonderful. It is chicken that we flatten out, we use the blend on it and we stuff it with chorizo sausage. Just fun stuff like that. We're constantly experimenting, constantly coming up with new recipes. That's what we do. I wish we had more time to do it actually.

Question:
That's understandable. I want to try the Chicken Cordon Peru.

Janet Johnston:
Doesn't it sound good? It's so good.

Question:
It does sound good. So now that you're on the TV Food Network, the world of the celebrity chefs, who were you most looking forward to meeting when you got there?

Janet Johnston:
I love Bobby Flay. I think he's wonderful and I love his restaurant. Mesa Grill is amazing. He kind of reminds me of my husband a little bit. He's a Philly boy and my husband is a Chicago boy. Also Ina Garten is amazing and I watch her show to calm down, because she's just so soothing and straightforward and I really adore her. I've been lucky, lucky, lucky enough to meet Paula Deen and the Neelys, both of which are the nicest people I've ever met. Paula Deen is the exact same person that you see on TV in real life. She is true blue. That was a pleasure and an honor meeting both her and the Neelys.

Question:
Thank you. What spice can you absolutely not stand?

Janet Johnston:
There's no spice that I can't stand. I mean physically I can't tolerate Bhut Jolokia, which is the hottest chile in the world which we carry at savory spice shop. But do you mean what do I not like and don't use?

Question:
Right.

Janet Johnston:
Asafoetida. In it's raw form it smells like it's sickening, which doubles the drama. It's used in authentic Indian cooking. When it's cooked it has the profile of a garlic and onion and a lot of people who, for whatever reason don't have garlic and onion or have allergies, use it. But because I can use garlic and onion I prefer not to keep asafoetida around. I believe in some countries the old ladies used to wear it around their necks to keep the evil spirits away, but it would keep pretty much everyone away. So, asafoetida I usually stay away from.

Question:
Ok, well thank you very much.

Janet Johnston:
Thank you.

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