A Spotlight On Allrecipes Allstar: Shelia Johnson

Cooking show host, social services director, and Allrecipes Allstar Shelia Johnson discusses her passion for cooking, her Gangsta Goodies Kitchen show, and what inspires her to go after her dreams.

Picture of Allstar Shelia
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Shelia is one of the 60 million cooks in our Allrecipes community as well as an Allrecipes Allstar.

What is an Allstar? Food bloggers, registered dietitians, and more home cooks (just like you!) make up our enthusiastic squad of 100+ brand ambassadors. This crew of food lovers has submitted thousands of recipes, photos, and reviews over the years, plus shared their cooking expertise all over our website and social channels. In short, they make all of our cooking adventures more successful. Interested in becoming an Allrecipes Allstar? Learn more, and sign up here.

Shelia's Stats

Allstar since: 2020

Number of developed recipes: 53

Number of reviewed recipes: 61

Q&A with Shelia

Allrecipes: Tell us about yourself!

Shelia Johnson: I was born, raised, and currently reside in Kansas City, Missouri. My day job entails working as a social services director at a senior citizen housing community. I have two beautiful daughters, named Devan and Shalea. My daughters have always been my inspiration, and are the reason behind everything I do. I also own, produce, and host Gangsta Goodies Kitchen, an online show where love, food, and relationships go hand in hand.

AR: What drew you to cooking?

SJ: Cooking was how my mama expressed her love. I always remember the kitchen being a place for bonding, conversation, celebrations, and more.

AR: What is your favorite food memory?

SJ: My favorite food memory would have to be times spent picking collard greens with my mama. It was during these times that I began to understand who she was as a woman. She shared so many things about herself, her upbringing, her siblings, and even her first love.

AR: What is your biggest cooking fail?

SJ: In 2003, I decided to host a backyard party for my oldest daughter's high school graduation. I never in my life used a grill and ended up burning all the food. We had to run out and buy barbecue about 30 minutes before guests began to arrive. Now, I always test new cooking methods, recipes, etc., before serving others.

Shelia Johnson @cookingwithshelia with grandsome Messiah Malik
Shelia with her grandson Messiah Malik. Shelia Johnson

AR: What kitchen tool can you not live without?

SJ: A cast-iron skillet because I can cook just about anything and everything in it.

AR: What are your favorite foods to cook?

SJ: Collard greens, black beans and rice, jerk chicken, shrimp, jollof rice, chicken or fish yassa.

AR: If you were a certain type of food, what would you be?

SJ: I would be collard greens because they're loaded with nutrients. You can prepare them in so many different ways, they're economical, they taste good, and they evoke fond childhood memories.

AR: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our audience?

"Few people know this, but I was diagnosed ten years ago with a rare type of lymphoma that has no cure. Living in this reality inspired me to go after all my dreams with everything I got!"

Shelia's Recipes

African and Caribbean cuisines are huge inspirations to Shelia's cooking. Not only has it introduced her to a different method of cooking, but additionally, she has learned a lot about the history of food and its origins. These lessons have inspired Shelia's exploration of spices. Using savory spices into classic dishes, she creates rave-worthy recipes such as Chicken Yassa and No Peek Chicken.

"Yassa is originally from Senegal but is very much a part of the Gambian cuisine experience," explains Shelia. "It can be prepared with fish or chicken. It is marinated overnight with lots of lemons, spices, pepper, and onions and then traditionally cooked the next day on a charcoal grill. I often say yassa is a lemon-pepper and onion lover's delight."

Get the recipe for Shelia's Chicken Yassa

Shelia's Chicken Yassa
Allrecipes Magazine

Juicy chicken baked with rice, yellow onions, red bell peppers, and other comforting add-ins, Shelia's No Peek Chicken is a scrumptious set-it-and-forget-it one-pot dinner the whole fam will devour. A recent viral hit, this community favorite chicken dinner recipe was one of the top new recipes published in all of 2022! If you haven't already, be the hero, and make this!

Chicken breast over rice
Cooking with Shelia

The meaning behind Gangsta Goodies Kitchen...

Why I created Gangsta Goodies Kitchen (GGK): It's my way of honoring my mama's legacy and the belief that being in the kitchen and cooking together can help bring families and communities together. When I got my MBA, my mentor asked what would be the ideal job. I replied, "If I could invite people into my space, feed them, network with them, connect them to resources and information they need, and make money doing it, I'd be on top of the world."

Why I named it that: Personally, a Gangsta is a person who stops at nothing to achieve his or her goals. A Gangsta works for everything, and in most cases, a Gangsta has risen above what society has expected. The black experience in this country is very different than others and we've allowed others to define us and tell our stories. The word "gangsta" has been negatively applied, and I want to do my part in changing the narrative. I also chose the name because I am a Gangsta (Goddess) and needed a name that would grab people's attention.

Shelia Johnson with daughters Devan (left) and Shelea.
Shelia with daughters Devan (left) and Shelea. Shelia Johnson

How the show has expanded: "We've expanded by teaching cooking classes, having local speaking engagements & TV features. Additionally, I just competed and won in Episode 3 of Food Network's new show: Tailgate Takedown."

Learn more about Shelia and what she's cooking in her kitchen!

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