Monday, November 17, 2008


I just wanted to thank everyone who supported the “Chef Jeff Project” from day one and the ones who came on board during the season. It was a life changing experience cooking, teaching and running a business at the same time. I gave my heart and my life for 28 days to impact the crew and those who watched. The most rewarding part of the experience was watching the crew grow.

I still believe that Adam has the potential to become a great Chef, but only if he can overcome the fear of success and the street life. I’ve been there, it’s hard to shake the streets, but if you don’t, the streets will take you down. As for the rest of the crew, they have the tools and information to make it in life. They have to keep grinding and never stop believing in the American dream. I wish them well and those who shared the experience in their living rooms, schools, and prisons. Life is what you make it. If you want that house on the hill with the white picket fence, you must change, build a personal brand and focus on the dream, destroying the dream crushers with your success.
Food Network: Thanks for allowing me to live my dream through the “Chef Jeff Project.” Who could ever imagine a guy with a story like mine would come so far and accomplish so much. All of you at the Network and production company helped me make a difference many people’s lives.

What’s next for me? I’m working on a self-help book that will focus on the Chef Jeff model for change and opening a restaurant. During the first week of December I’m going on a small tour in the south with Smithfield Foods. I’ll be giving away food to the needy and speaking to young people at high schools and colleges. When I return, I’ll be spending time with my family to rest, vibe with my little ones and focus on 2009. I will continue to blog throughout the week, more food, recipes and kitchen conversation coming. I will give all of you an update on a possible second season, the crew and my inspirational thoughts.

As Always, Bon Appetit

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I’ve been blessed to meet many powerful and inspirational people from all walks of life. I’ve sat on the couch with Oprah Winfrey , spent a day on a movie set with Will Smith and chatted with Sidney Poitier on a street corner in Westwood…just to name a few. This morning I had a conversation about life, young people, dreams and food with the Renaissance woman herself, Dr. Maya Angelo.

I had gone over the radio interview with Dr. Angelou in my head. I paced my bedroom with high energy, wondering how our talk would go. What would her audience want to know about me? Well when the phone rang, the producer over at Oprah and Friends said “Are you ready?” holding my breath, I said “Lets go!” A few seconds later, I heard a low, raspy voice say “Hello, Chef Jeff.” I struggled to contain my excitement as I held a conversation with “The Mother of Hope”….the “Queen of Souls”, Dr. Maya Angelou on her radio show. The interview went much like a kitchen conversation with my grandmother. With the same eloquence she lends to her poetry and literature readings we talked about our shared love of cooking and eating along with her concern for our nation’s young people and some of their troubled paths. Her spirit filled my soul. I’ve never felt more inspired and the conversation only re-assured me that I must continue my work of making a difference in the lives of others.

The time is now! The moment has arrived. With less than one week until the finale, we must spread the word about the importance of shows like the CJP. It’s important that we work together to increase viewers this Sunday at 10:00pm on the Food Network. Its not about me, it’s truly about making sure we continue to assist young people with the tools to find their potential in life. WE MUST SEND THE RATINGS THROUGH THE ROOF!!!

If you love The Chef Jeff Project and you want to see another season of it encourage everyone you know to tune in to the finale this Sunday at 10pm. If you can’t watch it, set your DVR or TIVO to record it.


Thursday, November 6, 2008


Election night was an extraordinary moment in my life. I watched my wife and three children sitting on our living room floor watching history unfold. I stood in the kitchen, preparing to serve my seafood Gumbo to family and friends. I was overwhelmed with joy and hope as I watched the results. The odds were against him from birth; just being a man of color stacked the odds. Then add all the other obstacles and social misconceptions and you’re left with an amazing idea, that we really can be anything we want to be and we can achieve what seemed unachievable. Most said “he” would not and he responded “yes we can”. I was humbled. It reinforced the hope that I already had in my crew members and young people across the country. I pray each one of them find their voice and potential in life.

It took me back to 13 years ago when I walked out of prison. I never gave up on my dreams. I found my purpose through hard work and sacrifice. I ask all my friends, family and fellow bloggers to reach back and inspire someone in your life.

This coming Sunday on the “Chef Jeff Project” is the 5th episode. E-mail, call and text message everyone in your rolodex to tune in. It will be a testimonial of change and what life is truly about at the end of the day. Since the premier of the “CJP” I have truly become more inspired to make a difference in the lives of others.

Sometimes when we are traveling down life’s roads that are filled with pot holes, stop signs and accidents we lose focus on what’s truly important. Never give up your dream, never. This week we all got a lesson in “new roads”. Most roads we travel on have already be tried and tested. The road signs are there to protect and guide us. In the case of President-Elect Obama, he’s a trailblazer. He’s making the road as he travels; leaving breadcrumbs behind for others to follow. Who knows how long it will take for this road to be paved and road signs to be posted. Don’t be afraid to go on roads no one else has gone…you never know where it may lead you.

On another note, how about getting into the kitchen and cooking this weekend. Fall is in full bloom; mushroom, squash and beans are everywhere. I travelled a new road myself Tuesday, for the first time I made a “Banana Pudding Cheese Cake”, it was off the hook. I made the crust with vanilla wafers and sugared pecans, and layered the cake with cream cheese, banana pudding filling and vanilla wafers cookies. Everyone threw down. When you put family, friends and great food together, kitchen conversation is always in my mix.

As Always, Bon Appétit

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Tonight on the Food Network, episode 4 of the “Chef Jeff Project” is airing. Shante will be faced with some tough decisions in her personal life as she moves forward to try and make a difference in her life.

The purpose of the “Chef Jeff Project” is not to just impact the lives of the crew members on the show but to impact lives all over the country. The show is important to everyone who has experienced personal and professional adversity. Though “the project” is my namesake, it’s not about me, its truly about inspiration and hope for anyone who needs a hand up in life. This show must continue on for many seasons and for many reasons.

The idea for a show like this came to me many years ago. I understood the power of food and second chances. I had first hand experience in both. When the opportunity came for my vision to be brought into living rooms, schools and prisons all over the country, I knew it would be amazing. To all the fans and supporters of the “The Chef Jeff Project” you must understand the importance of the business side of this groundbreaking docu-reality series. In television, a lot is riding on the ratings. I am asking you and your friends/family to rally behind me and the show in an effort to keep it on air. Copy and paste this blog and e-mail it across America. We must all ban together and build up ratings for this show.

On Sunday's we go all out for dinner in my house, tonight I am cooking gumbo, that’s right, at the request of my littler sister “Sugar”. It’s her favorite. We’ll eat some tonight and save the rest for Tuesday night as my family and friends gather to watch the results of, what I believe to be, the most anticipated presidential election in U.S. history. I’ve already cast my vote, make sure you exercise your right to vote this Tuesday.

In my new cookbook “Chef Jeff Cooks” there is a family tale about Gumbo and how it was my Granddaddy’s signature dish. If you haven’t purchased my cook book, now is the time to run out and get it….when you do, consider also baking some of my black pepper biscuits.

As Always, Bon Appétit

-Chef Jeff