In the Kitchen With … Andrew McManus

In the Kitchen With … Andrew McManus

Story and photos by Adam Black

The saying, “A dog in the kitchen desires no company” could not be farther from the truth for Andrew McManus and his dog Watson.

McManus and Watson have been building their social media presence, hosting cooking segments from their kitchen and making meals weekly on their show “Cooking with Andrew and Watson.”

McManus, a Portsmouth city councilman and amateur chef, has been sharing his passion for cooking on social media and with the Portsmouth community for quite some time. With Watson by his side, McManus has shared some family recipes and created some original masterpieces for the community to enjoy.

“The majority of my childhood was spent with my dad’s catering company,” McManus said. “I was brought up around food.”

McManus found his passion for cooking before he left for college. His mother, Karen, taught him the basics of how to cook. Since then, McManus has been using his skills daily to create tasty dishes and even get a little help in the dating department.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use those skills to get girlfriends in my younger years,” McManus said. “From there, I found a love for cooking and putting my stamp on dishes.”

Although McManus has been showing off his cooking for years with friends and family, he has recently gained attention from the Portsmouth community for an idea he came up with at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The show stemmed from the stay-at-home orders,” McManus said. “At the time, I was single and was rather bored, just cooking for myself. When I started the show, it turned into not just me cooking, but me explaining how to do it, and I think it made it more fun.”

During the past several months, more and more people have tuned into the show, asking questions, watching McManus explain dishes and requesting other recipes for him to make, all while his right-hand man — or dog — Watson supervises.

“What I truly hope for the show is two things,” McManus said. “One, to make Watson a star and to get enough fans, we can have T-shirts made (featuring Watson) and two, the proceeds can go to a food bank.”

McManus said he enjoys making several meals, including some classics from his mother. He also enjoys anything with heat.

“I find myself using peppers in most of my dishes, even breakfast foods. I usually use garlic more than I should. I enjoy spices infused with smoke as well,” McManus said. “My mom has a classic called Italian Chicken. It is easy to make and it’s one of my go-to dishes. I also make a mean Chicken Pesto Pasta, and my taco nights are world-famous, in my opinion.”

While McManus hopes his show continues to be a success throughout the community, he said the real joy is just being in the kitchen and inspiring others to reach for their dreams.

“If you knew how many meals I’ve burnt or how many date nights that turned into ordering pizza, you would realize everyone makes mistakes,” McManus said. “If you keep at it and keep honing your craft, this can change from a passion to a skill.”

McManus’s social media cooking show can be found on his Facebook page, or by looking up Cooking with Andrew and Watson.

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Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

12 jalapenos, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed

12 slices of thick-cut bacon

Paprika, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

With a hand mixer, beat together cream cheese, cheddar, garlic powder, kosher salt and Worcestershire sauce. Fill each of the hollowed jalapeno halves with 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture.

Cut each slice of bacon in half so there are 24 shorter pieces of bacon. Wrap each jalapeno in a piece of bacon and insert a toothpick to hold the bacon in place; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining stuffed jalapenos.

Bake until bacon is cooked through and the cheese begins to brown in spots, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing toothpicks. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with paprika for color.

Salt Magazine