How Justin Sutherland Really Feels About Rachael Ray's High Praise - Exclusive

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Classically trained chef Justin Sutherland is known for his impressive skills in the kitchen and for appearing on hit shows like "Top Chef" and "Fast Foodies." The Minnesota native told Mashed in an exclusive interview that he knew he wanted to cook while growing up seeing his family's love of making food. "I was always following my grandmothers around the kitchen," he explained. "They were always cooking. I had a grandma from Japan and a grandma with Southern roots, and food was their love language. I was always the kid watching them cook, tasting everything, banging on pots and pans as drums."

Growing up with this blended culture was also part of the inspiration for his new cookbook called "Northern Soul," which features recipes like creole jambalaya and bourbon pecan pie with maple whip. However, he revealed that one of the most meaningful recipes is for collard greens. 

"[It] tells that story of soul food, of food that started as foods of enslaved people and taking these humble ingredients and turning them into something delicious," Sutherland said. "Collard greens definitely tells the story of the book." The way that he's blended food, culture, and history in his book definitely hasn't gone unnoticed, with culinary icon Rachael Ray giving it a rave review.

The famous host said Sutherland's book is an important read

After reading Sutherland's cookbook "Northern Soul," Ray said it gave her chills and that "it's mindful, soulful, important, and truly American." Sutherland admitted that after spending multiple years writing it and compiling everything, it was really meaningful to get a review like that from her. "It's crazy," he said. "To spend two and a half years of your life writing this book, and you're taking stories that are deeply personal and sharing them with the world ... For somebody of that level, especially somebody you look up to in culinary — to have [them] be affected by your book meant a lot."

The "Taste the Culture" host said he's ultimately grateful to have the book out and for all the doors that being on competitive food shows has opened and continues to open for him. Sutherland said after appearing on series like "Iron Chef" his world completely shifted, "It was life-changing."

Justin Sutherland's cookbook, "Northern Soul," is available on Amazon.