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Texas Couple From Dude That Cookz Website Gets a New Cookbook, Gordon Ramsay Love

Eric and Shanna Jones Make the Food They've Always Loved Healthier

BY // 01.16.22

The kitchen is often the heartbeat of a home. The place where memories and meals are made, and it just so happens to be the epicenter for Shanna and Eric Jones’ burgeoning culinary empire.

With the impending release of their first cookbook called Healthier Southern Cooking, a vibrant social media presence, complete with big-name collaborations, and even interest from the famously mercurial chef Gordon Ramsay, things are heating up fast for the Houston couple. 

Foodies and creators on their own, the married couple merged their talents in January 2018, creating the Dude That Cookz website. The site is an enticing hub of recipes for every meal of the day, plus cocktails, gift guides and other tasty morsels.  

Shanna Jones, the company’s creative director and photographer, previously co-founded lifestyle site Urban Swank with local adventurer and friend Felice Simmons. Eric is an IT professional with an artistic touch and an abiding interest in all things flavorful.

Born in Louisiana, Eric grew up in his grandmother’s and mother’s kitchens, enjoying every butter-soaked bite of Southern cooking infused with Creole charm and spice. Although he never attended culinary school, he paid attention to how and what was cooked, recreating family recipes on his own. 

“I went to the class of grandma,” Eric Jones says. “They lived down the street from each other so I saw all facets of Southern cooking. I grew up loving and eating it all.” 

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Eric and Shanna Jones' stewed okra and tomatoes with chicken sausage.
Eric and Shanna Jones’ stewed okra and tomatoes with chicken sausage.

Food is definitely a love language. But as Eric recreated the dishes he had growing up (or something memorable from a restaurant), he wanted that language to speak in a healthier way. The couple had been “dibbling and dabbling” in clean eating, but soon began revamping recipes in earnest and posting them on the website. 

Eric’s other constant companion is a notebook he carries to jot down details of meals that resonate with his tastebuds and vision and that notebook became the foundation for Healthier Southern Cooking.

In addition to her photography skills and marketing savvy, Shanna brought her love of desserts to the table, allowing the couple to create a complete collection of recipes. Each one is given a healthy makeover, while still retaining a Southern meets Creole hybrid mix. 

“We love our Southern heritage and began eating clean as a family by swapping heavy creams with coconut milk and olive oil for butter,” Shanna Jones notes. 

“You can have great tasting Southern food that’s healthy without sacrificing flavor,” Eric adds.

Creating a Cookbook 

The couple were approached by Page Street Publishing after the publisher noticed the Dude That Cookz website, appreciating their fresh take on familiar favorites. The collection of reimagined dishes — including chicken and sausage jambalaya, low fat, old fashioned chicken and dumplings and red snapper and cheese polenta with Creole tomatoes — emphasizes ingredients that lower the salt, fat, carbs or calories in recipes. It was important to Eric that there were dishes for everyone in the book, regardless of allergies or eating preferences, so there are shellfish swaps and vegetarian options. 

The cookbook is broken into seven chapters. There are 60 recipes overall, including sandwiches, sides, desserts, breakfast and even soups, a section Eric is especially fond of. 

“The soup chapter is going to catch a lot of people off guard,” he tells PaperCity. “The healthy soup flavors are outstanding.”

His personal favorite is the five star truffled mushroom cream soup, inspired by an asparagus truffle soup Jones had in Napa. His healthy version includes baby bella mushrooms, garlic and vegetable broth. 

Eric credits his sense of smell rather than taste as the rudder for his food recreations. And he relies on Shanna to serve as chief taster and give him honest, knowledgeable opinions.

“It’s the weirdest thing. It’s based on aroma,” Eric Jones says. “Once I have that scent, I throw the ingredients out in my kitchen like a canvas. It’s my art.”  

Their culinary chemistry started early in the relationship. Rather than booking a table for two on Valentine’s Day, these two had a cook-off instead, each creating a menu and attempting to wow each other year after year in the kitchen. It’s now tradition in the Jones’ household. 

The duo has already caught the attention of Success Rice, Zwilling and Bob’s Red Mill, working with the brands on various projects. Other collaborations are on the horizon.

Healthier Southern Cooking
The Healthier Southern Cooking cookbook is just part of Eric and Shanna Jones’ food world. vision.

When the Joneses got the call from Gordon Ramsay’s production company, it was simply a matter of timing that stymied the project. Eric and Shanna were knee deep in the cookbook and under a publisher deadline. With their Healthier Southern Cooking book set to be released on February 22, the couple is readying for new opportunities in the kitchen and in front of the camera.

“Four years ago we turned our hobby into a business,” Eric says. “Shanna got me out of my shell and convinced me of the possibilities and now I really do enjoy it. I’m excited to see what’s next to come.”

Whatever’s next is sure to be delicious.

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