Kelly the Culinarian: Food flash: The Chef Jeff Project

Monday, October 13, 2008

Food flash: The Chef Jeff Project

I *heart* The Chef Jeff Project. I've been packing like a madwoman, but I did it with the television on all of Sunday night. I listened to the biography of Jeff Henderson, who at 19 was running a cocaine ring that brought in more weekly than most reporters make in a year. He was arrested at 24 and spent 10 years in jail, after which he became the chef at the Bellagio in Vegas and wrote a best-selling cookbook.

He currently visits jails to let inmates know that there is life after incarceration. He makes a great point when he says there are plenty of successful people out there who have been to jail and made something out of themselves later, they just don't talk about it.

On The Chef Jeff Project, Jeff takes in several at-risk young people who have sad tales of addiction, homelessness and abuse. He has each kid working at his catering company and uses food and leadership as a way to show them what else is out there.

It's not always pretty. On the first episode, a profanity-laced fight broke out on the line while the employees were serving up the crew of a soap opera. Clearly, they all have issues to work out, but it will be interesting to see how the show plays out.

I always thought food was like therapy. It's easy to think things out when you're watching something cook for an hour or kneading bread for 20 minutes. It's a stress reliever and a great way to think your way through issues, so I'm not at all surprised someone has found a way to bring the therapeutic nature of food to those who need it the most.

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