On July 17, 2017, Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson, best known as “Chef Jeff," visited the Youth Detention Facility (YDF) and held a hands-on cooking demonstration, or “boot camp," for a small group of residents. The youth learned basic cooking and hospitality skills, incorporating produce they have grown in the YDF Garden.
Chef Jeff is creator of the Food Network reality show series, “The Chef Jeff Project" and host of the new innovative television series “Flip My Food." He discovered his passion and gift for cooking in an unlikely place: prison. Now, he uses his journey from drug dealer to celebrity chef to help others transform their lives and live their dreams.
“We are honored and grateful to have Chef Jeff speak to and educate our youth in the facility. He is the very model of how setting positive goals, getting an education, and working hard can change a person's life, no matter what his or her past may hold," said Sacramento County Chief Probation Officer Lee Seale.
Chef Jeff is also an author. Probation Assistant Tiffany Merritt, who operates the YDF Library, added his book, Cooked: My Journey from Streets to Stove, a New York Times best-seller, to the library's collection. It became very popular with the residents, resulting in their persistent requests that Chef Jeff speak at the facility followed by his enthusiastic acceptance of the invitation to do so.
Assistant Chief Deputy Ruby Jones, who oversees Youth Detention Facility programming explains: “Many of the kids in our facility have stories similar to Chef Jeff's, and they are so inspired by the way he has successfully turned his life around; he gives them hope of a future they may have once thought impossible or unimaginable."
Chef Jeff is one of many authors who have participated in motivational speaking events at YDF. Many of these speaking events have been supported by and fostered through YDF's Library Program, which promotes the literacy and education of the residents. Authors who have visited over the last couple of years include Dr. Samuel Huddleston, author of Five Years to Life; Kali Muscle, author of Ex-Con to Icon; Stephanie Lahart, author of Overcoming Life's Obstacles; Jason Reynolds, author of When I Was the Greatest; and Brendan Kiely, author of The Last True Love Story, The Gospel of Winter, and co-author of All American Boys.
For more information about the event or other YDF programs, contact Assistant Chief Deputy Ruby Jones at JonesR@SacCounty.gov or 916-875-2071.