St. Pete native Chef Terrell Manning shares his love for food in his new cookbook.
BY NICOLE SLAUGHTER GRAHAM, Staff Writer
TAMPA BAY – St. Pete native Terrell Manning was four years old when he first asked his mother to teach him how to cook.
“She wasn’t having it then,” he said with a laugh.
Her understandable reaction didn’t stop him, though. At age seven, Manning was back in the kitchen, this time at his grandmother’s heels, asking for cooking lessons. She took him up on it.
“She woke me up at six in the morning the next day and told me we were going to cook some eggs,” he said.
He recalls feeling excited and jumping at the opportunity to cook alongside his grandmother. The eggs, he said, were scrambled in a four-inch electric skillet, but not without a few mishaps.
“I beat those eggs to death. There were eggshells all in the mix. We had to dump them out and start over.”
Not long after, he watched as his grandmother whisked eggs into a bowl full of flour for a cake.
“I was like, wait, why are there eggs in there? She explained to me that eggs are used in lots of things, and it just kind of got my mind going.”
If eggs were used in things like pancakes, cookies, and cakes, he thought, well, what other ingredients could I put together to make something new?
This curiosity propelled Manning into his passion for cooking. While other kids were watching cartoons and playing video games, Manning was soaking in Master Chef and Hell’s Kitchen.
At 17, he decided to make a career out of his passion, even though he’d never had any training outside his grandmother’s kitchen.
He secured a position in the kitchen at the Don Cesar on St. Pete Beach under Chef Kenny Hunsberger and got to work, learning the ins and outs of fine cuisine.
He credits much of his success — which includes a restaurant consulting business, cookbook, catering service and delivery service — to two chefs: Jacquel Quarterman and Andrew Poliquin from Raleigh, N. C.
“They both knew I couldn’t cook worth a damn,” he said, laughing again. “But they both pushed me.”
Feeling like it was a lifelong dream come true, Manning was ready for whatever chefs Quarterman and Poliquin threw at him as if he was on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.
“A lot of people couldn’t take it,” he said, “but I loved it. I wanted it.”
To Manning, food is art and love. Everything from pairing flavors to bringing people together over a meal speaks to him in ways nothing else can. It’s in the kitchen that Manning feels the most at home, bringing ingredients together to create something fresh and new.
To bring his love of cooking to life for others, Manning wrote “The Love Languages of Food,” a cookbook infused with personal experiences, recipes and a guide to the seven different types of foodies. The book is designed to illustrate how people can connect with food in different ways.
There’s the “Cuisine and Culture” language, for instance, which is someone who loves experiencing and exploring culture through food. For Manning, the Asian culture speaks strongly to him, and he expresses his appreciation for the culture by cooking traditional Asian meals.
Manning pulls from his childhood and growing up cooking with his grandmother for the “Cooking at Home with Family” love language.
“All she wants is to have her kids and grandkids together and to be able to cook them a good meal.”
In recent years, Manning has focused on just how food affects the people he loves most. As a result, his career has shifted a bit. He’s become more concerned with how his recipes affect the body, something he explores through his new delivery service, Healthy Eatz.
“I lost my father in 2010 to hypertension and my uncle in 2016 to diabetes. It feels like a family curse.”
Manning said he knows that healing ailments like the ones his father and uncle suffered through begin with a healthy diet. Through his delivery service, Manning provides healthy meals without compromising on flavor. Creating the dishes his company delivers allows him to dive into creativity in a new way.
“It’s made me really be honest about everything going into the food,” he said. “There’s no dairy or gluten. Period. And we use all organic ingredients.”
Manning said he knows from personal experience that taking on a healthier lifestyle can be challenging, and sustaining it is even harder for some people, so he adds personal touches to help with the transition.
“I personally reach out to our members to find out what they’d like to see on the menu. I’ll custom make dishes for them too,” he said.
One of his members, a Haitian woman, was really missing her home country’s cuisine, so Manning custom-made a menu just for her. “It included all of her favorite dishes, but just healthier.”
Pulling from his lifelong bond with his grandmother and the importance of family, Manning said he wants his delivery service members to feel like they’re a part of a community. His delivery service even has the benefits of a private Facebook group, where members can connect and share recipes.
“When you become a member of Healthy Eatz, you become a member of the family.”
Manning serves Pinellas, Manatee and Hillsborough Counties.
You can learn more about Chef Manning, his delivery service and preorder his cookbook at chefterrellmanning.com.
Recipe and excerpt from “The Love Languages of Food”
Chef Manning’s Butter Cookies Recipe Inspired by Love Language 7
Nothing—absolutely nothing—brings people together like the smell of butter cookies fresh out of the oven! Love Language 7 is all about bringing people together and enjoying beautiful memories like eating a warm butter cookie with friends. It might sound corny, but hey! Sometimes corny times are the best of times.
I stumbled upon this recipe because my mother would make some similar cookies that were not quite butter cookies. So, I decided to toy around with it, and ever since then, these amazing treats have been a staple.
- 1 cup of butter, softened
- 2/3 cup of powdered sugar, sifted 1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of butter extract
- 1/3 cup of sifted corn starch
- 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt
- Soften 1 cup of butter.
- Place 2/3 cup of sifted powdered sugar on top of softened butter.
- Mix in stick mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add in 1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1⁄2 teaspoon of butter extract; beat until incorporated.
- Add in 1 1/2 cups plus 1 additional tablespoon of sifted All Purpose flour.
- Add in 1/3 cup of sifted corn starch.
- Add to mix in two small batches.
- Mix in the first half and after combined, fold in the second half.
- Mix until combined.
- Add in 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt.
- Transfer to a piping bag.
- Pipe out rosettes.
- Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
- Bake at 340 ̊F for 12-15 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely.
To reach Nicole Slaughter Graham, email firstname.lastname@example.org