Henderson, Jeff 1964(?)- (Jefferey Henderson)
Henderson, Jeff 1964(?)- (Jefferey Henderson)
Born c. 1964, in Los Angeles, CA; married Stacy Womack; children: Jefferey Jr., Noel, Troy.
Chef, writer, motivational speaker. Previously worked as a drug dealer in San Diego, CA; Gadsby's restaurant, Los Angeles, CA, dishwasher; worked in the kitchens at a Marriott Hotel, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air, all in Los Angeles, CA; Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas, NV, chef de cuisine; Café Bellagio, Las Vegas, began as sous chef, became executive chef, 2004—; Urban Educational Consulting, Las Vegas, president and CEO.
Chef of the Year in Vegas, Tasting Institute of America, 2001.
Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.
Jeff Henderson was born and raised in south central Los Angeles, California, in the area known as Watts, where his mother, a single parent, worked two jobs to support him. He started to deal drugs when he was still a teenager, and by the time he was nineteen years old, he was earning 35,000 dollars a week selling cocaine. Henderson eventually became known as one of the most successful dealers in San Diego, before he was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to spend twenty years at the Terminal Island correctional facility. It was a turn of events that Henderson credits with saving his life and enabling him to get a fresh start. When he left prison, he went to work as a dishwasher at Gadsby's restaurant in Los Angeles, based on the job he had been performing while serving his sentence. From there, Henderson worked his way up through the hierarchy of the kitchen, learning skills as he advanced. He worked in the kitchens of a number of Los Angeles hotels, such as the Marriott, a Ritz-Carlton, and the Hotel Bel-Air. He then moved on to Las Vegas, where in 2000, he became the first African American to hold the position of chef de cuisine at the restaurant at Caesars Palace. Eventually he landed at the Bellagio Café as their executive chef.
Henderson uses his success as a platform to encourage other people, particularly young people, to work hard and stay away from the kind of lifestyle he once maintained. He speaks publicly about his time spent in prison and the effort it took for him to make something of himself once he had served his time. His book Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras chronicles his experiences, from the high of selling drugs, to the crash of his prison sentence, and the successful career he has built from the bottom up since earning his freedom. Hugh Merwin, writing for Gothamist, remarked that "a lot of ‘Cooked’ is pitch-perfect stories about the crazy inner workings of restaurant kitchens, but Henderson's memoir is in some part blueprint for change." In an interview with Robin Leach for Vegas Pop Web site, Henderson himself explains his intention: "The book is about redemption. It is about elevation and evolution of a man." Shawn Williams, reviewing the book for the Dallas South Blog, observed: "As Jeff Henderson grows and matures so does his speech and his voice as the author. I do not recall this particular approach in any of the previous books I've read. It's actually a pretty clever device."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Henderson, Jeff, Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.
Black Issues Book Review, May-June, 2007, Felicia Pride, "Jeff Henderson," p. 10.
Booklist, March 15, 2007, Mark Knoblauch, review of Cooked, p. 12.
Essence, March, 2007, "The Sweet Smell of Success," p. 80.
Library Journal, April 1, 2007, Steven G. Fullwood, review of Cooked, p. 112; July 1, 2007, Danna Bell-Russel, review of Cooked, p. 134.
Nation's Restaurant News, August 21, 2006, Dina Berta, "Convicted Felon Turned High-End Chef Addresses MFHA Attendees," p. 14.
Newsweek, March 6, 2006, Karen Springen, "People: He's Cooking," p. 11.
People, March 5, 2007, Michelle Green, "From Hustler to High Cuisine," p. 105.
Dallas South Blog,http://dallassouthblog.com/ (September 30, 2007), Shawn Williams, review of Cooked.
Gothamist,http://gothamist.com/ (March 28, 2007), Hugh Merwin, review of Cooked.
HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (December 8, 2007), author profile.
Jeff Henderson Home Page,http://www.chefjeffcooked.com (December 8, 2007).
Jeff Henderson MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/chefjeffhenderson (December 8, 2007).
Nationwide Speakers Bureau Web site,http://nationwidespeakers.com/ (December 8, 2007), author/speaker profile.
Vegas Pop,http://www.vegaspopular.com/ (March 1, 2007), Robin Leach, review of Cooked; interview with Jeff Henderson.