The couple bringing stunning food and gorgeous design to the table
If you are not familiar with Chef Eric’s impressive pedigree or Janell Adjepong’s talent for aesthetics, perhaps you will recognize them for their strikingly good looks. After all, Eric Adjepong was featured as one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive in 2018.
After being a finalist on his rookie season of Top Chef and on his season of all-stars, fans fell in love with Eric for his passion for pan African cuisine and his overall undeniable talent. Fans felt strongly he was robbed – insisting that he was eliminated due to the lack of the judging panel’s understanding of West African textures and flavours. Needless to say that he remains a fan and industry favourite. Chef Eric now joins the ranks of Tom
Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi as the host of his own food network competition show, Alex vs. America.
Since 2015, Janell and Eric Adjepong have owned and operated Pinch and Plate, a luxurious dining experience serving primarily New York and Washington DC partygoers. Pinch and Plate events are entirely customizable, featuring exquisite cuisines from around the world, from French and Italian to Chef Eric’s famous West African cuisine.
We sat down with the busy chef and host to chat about how Pinch and Plate began and what it’s really like running a business with his spouse.
How did Chef Eric Adjepong first meet Janelle?
I had just moved back to New York after getting my master’s in public health at the University of Westminster in London. I am originally from New York. Janelle had just moved from DC and a group of friends of mine decided to throw a party, and Janelle was invited, so the legend goes.
We met at the party, but I don’t remember it at all. I met a photographer at that same party that I wanted to start working with. I went on Facebook and started typing out his name. As I’m typing out J-A, the first two letters of the photographer’s name, I see Janelle’s name populate.
I remember doing this modern family/ the office “look in the camera”; she was just so gorgeous! I reached out to my friend; he was like “ She just moved up to New York not too long ago, I introduced you to her at the party!” I just thought I would have remembered meeting someone like her.
Was Pinch and Plate their first collaboration?
It is! We started it not too long after we became an official couple. She wanted me to do a dinner party for her and her home; she wanted to show off her boyfriend’s cooking skills. So I made the food and set everything else up. I had no idea she had these incredible decorating skills! She created this beautiful tablescape. I was floored; I was so impressed. Janell and I working together just happened organically. We had a Eureka moment; hey, we can put together events and take this on the road.” It started as a passion project, and then everything just got bigger from there.
Janell is the attention to detail person; she is meticulous. She makes sure everything is beautiful. I just handle what goes on the plates. It’s always refreshing to watch what Janell creates, every single time. And watching her brain work to build these fantastic spaces is incredible.
what advice would you give to partners considering looking to collaborate?
The biggest challenge, honestly, is not separating work and life. When issues come into our lives, we just have to learn to adjust. Come up with a timeline! Come up with a timeline with goals and things that you want to do as individuals, but then also as a business. Find a way to separate the work from the personal. You always have to remember why you guys became a couple in the first place and enjoy that.
Any time that I’m talking about work is time that I’m not spending talking about and listening to my wife. I would also say just have fun; if it’s not fun for you, it won’t benefit anybody else. Enjoy yourself! It’s refreshing to be able to do something with someone that you love and respect and to know you’ve created something together.