Feb 19 2012

MJ’s Greatest Bites With Mani and Akasha

Category: Friends,Photos,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 1:17 am

Golden Temple is a now defunct but once popular vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles. Back in the ‘Thriller‘ days, Michael Jackson used to eat there. And it was there that he discovered Akasha Richmond and Mani Niall. Michael became a regular customer, and hired them to cook for him on tour and as private chefs. Michael first hired Mani as a private chef for the Victory Tour and then Akasha followed, having been hired to cater parties and dinners during the Bad and HIStory tours.

Cooking and traveling for the King of Pop shaped and inspired both Mani and Akasha’s culinary palettes. Says Mani: “I can truly say that working with Akasha was the first inspirational experience I had in the kitchen-and then Michael? He believed in me, treated me with respect and was really a fun person. When I went to work for him I was a cook and by the time I finished I was a chef.

Akasha shares her fondest memory of working with Michael: “My fondest memory would be living in NYC with him (1995) while he made the HIStory album, especially the night he played the piano for me and sang while I cooked him dinner. I met Michael for the first time at the Golden Temple when I was the chef there. We were both shy. He came in everyday. What I’ll miss most is the laugh, the love and fun that I have never seen since.

On June 25th, 2010, in celebration and remembrance of their time together with Michael, Mani joined Akasha in the AKASHA restaurant kitchen to cook up some of Michael’s favorite dishes. Akasha said: “Cooking for Michael was one of the greatest times of my life, and since Mani and I wanted to be together on the anniversary of his passing, we felt there was no better way to remember him than to cook up some of his favorite dishes.

"MJ's Greatest Bites" at Akasha restaurant in Culver City, June 25th, 2010

In the admittedly badly-lit video of the celebration below, you can watch them cooking Michael’s favorite dish: New Mexican Red Chile and Cheese Enchiladas. You’ll also see Mani enjoying another favorite of Michael’s for dessert: sweet potato pie with ‘ookie‘ crust. Mani will explain about the crust in the video. I have been told by others that Michael liked a particular kind of cookie that Chef Kai Chase would make for him and he also called them ‘ookies‘. You’ll have to watch the video to learn why he called them that. There are a few photos of Michael, some with Mani. You may have seen Mani previously in photos with Michael but perhaps not known who he was. Around 4:00, Mani tells how Michael employed his snake Muscles to give a little payback to some snobby CBS executives. They were not amused. But Michael certainly was!

New Mexican Red Chile and Cheese Enchiladas - one of Michael's favorite dishes

Where are they now? As mentioned, Aksaha now has her own restaurant in LA, aptly called ‘AKASHA‘. Mani Niall was the founder of Mani’s Bakery which operated on Fairfax Ave. in LA for years. However, I believe Mani’s is now closed and has been replaced by another bakery. Mani is currently Executive Chef for Just Desserts in San Francisco.

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SOURCES and References:


MORE from MJ-777.com about cooking, food, chefs, and Michael:

Michael was a gourmet when it came to nourishing with Love:

Candy and Cookies and Pie! Oh My!

Really Really Brad and the Slam-Dunk Sisters:

Why they needed to be concerned about Michael not eating much in 2009, and a bit about Chef Remi:

Memories of Michael by chef Larry Banares:

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4 Responses to “MJ’s Greatest Bites With Mani and Akasha”

  1. cjg says:

    What a wonderful way to remember Michael. I am very familiar with his favorite dish and I am glad to know that I share that with him as it is what I always order when I go out to a New Mexican restaurant. I love hearing about his sense of humor! Michael, you naughty boy!
    Thank you Seven for these wonderful, intimate glimpses into the man Michael was – always look forward to them.

  2. Paula says:

    Thank you Seven! Have missed your posts! 🙂

  3. Sina says:

    Hi seven,
    Missed you. Im glad you are back and better.
    Thanks for sharing Michaels good times. It helps alot to accept his absence, knowing that he enjoyed life in his own way.
    The dishes look good. Seems like Michael loved his food.
    How could he eat all this heavy food and not gain an ounce. (While Im still struggling to get off the holiday pounds.)
    I wouldnt try the enchiladas, but the ookies look yummie.
    Btw I found out all Michaels uptempo music is perfect for work out = for after the enchiladas.

  4. Joyce says:

    Thanks Seven for this tasty morsel! Another lovely and loving remembrance of Michael from someone who knew and loved him as a friend.
    Like @cjg I also am very familiar with the authentic New Mexican flat, layered enchilada. My husband, Scott was from New Mexico and was very particular about his “Mexican” food. According to him, the New Mexican Enchilada was the only actual enchilada! I’d like to think that maybe he and Michael are sharing stories about their favorite food in heaven!

    I really enjoyed watching the video. What I wouldn’t give to have been able to have the opportunity to share even a little bit of time in Michael’s company!
    Thanks again!

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