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Jeff Henderson

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Information about Jeff Henderson

Profile image of Jeff Henderson

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Chef
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Brown, Red
Favorite Food:
Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
If Chef Jeff Can Do It, You Can Do It.

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Chef
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Brown, Red
Favorite Food:
Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
If Chef Jeff Can Do It, You Can Do It.
See how Jeff Henderson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Chef Jeffery Henderson was born in 1964 in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California to June Marie Giles, a welder, and Charles Henderson, Jr. Raised by a singer mother, Henderson was born months before the Watts Riots of 1965. Henderson attended several elementary and junior high schools including Toluca Lake Elementary School in North Hollywood, California and Hamilton Junior High School in Long Beach, California. While attending John Muir Junior High in Burbank, California, he met a cousin who was a drug dealer and started selling drugs.

Henderson grew up on the tough streets of South Central, Los Angeles and San Diego in areas where local gangs battled daily. In the early 1980s, Henderson moved to San Diego, along with his mother and sister, and his drug dealing habits increased. He earned as much as $35,000 a week dealing cocaine in San Diego. Then, in 1988, when Henderson was twenty four years old, the police arrested one of his couriers with $40,000 in cash and a large amount of cocaine. The paperwork led them directly to Henderson, who received a sentence of ten years and seven months in prison. In 1989, Henderson entered prison. While incarcerated, Henderson developed a passion for cooking and was committed to turning his life around. He watched news programs on television, read the "L.A. Times," "USA Today," self-help books and took business courses. He also worked in prison kitchens, starting as a dishwasher and eventually preparing meals as a chef. In 1992, Henderson was transferred to Nellis Air Force Base and worked in the dining hall. Henderson was accepted into the Culinary Training School for inmates at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

In 1997, Henderson left prison and his attempt to find employment proved fruitless. Henderson was hired as a dishwasher, and then was promoted to line cook. He moved on to other Los Angeles area restaurants, studying menus and books, and ultimately he was hired at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey, Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Soon, he moved to Las Vegas, and after numerous rejections won a job with Caesars Palace. Within the year, Henderson was promoted to head chef. He became Executive Chef at Café Bellagio in Las Vegas. By 2001, Henderson was honored as Chef of the Year by the American Food and Wine Tasting Federation, and soon established The Westside Group, a non-profit organization to help troubled kids. In 2007, he published his memoir, "Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras." Henderson focuses on giving back to his community with "The Chef Jeff Project," in which he takes six at-risk young adults and commits to turning their lives around by putting them to work in his catering company, Posh Urban Cuisine.

Jeff Henderson resides in Las Vegas with his wife and three children.

Jeff Henderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers April 7, 2007.

See how Jeff Henderson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jeff Henderson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jeff Henderson lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jeff Henderson describes his maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jeff Henderson describes his parents' marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jeff Henderson describes his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jeff Henderson describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jeff Henderson describes his family's move to Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jeff Henderson talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jeff Henderson describes his parents' personalities and his likeness to them
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jeff Henderson describes his mother's occupation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Jeff Henderson remembers Toluca Lake Elementary School in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Jeff Henderson remembers moving to San Diego, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Jeff Henderson recalls Kit Carson Elementary School in San Diego, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Jeff Henderson remembers growing up in the projects of San Diego, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Jeff Henderson recalls struggling as a student at Montgomery Junior High School in San Diego, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jeff Henderson remembers moving to his father's home in San Diego, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jeff Henderson remembers his expulsion from the Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jeff Henderson remembers Alexander Hamilton Junior High School in Long Beach, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jeff Henderson recalls his suspension from Alexander Hamilton Junior High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jeff Henderson remembers his first job
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jeff Henderson recalls his decision to return to San Diego, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jeff Henderson remembers his relationship with Thess Good
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jeff Henderson remembers selling marijuana at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Diego, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jeff Henderson remembers selling crack cocaine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Jeff Henderson talks about developing his business skills as a drug dealer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Jeff Henderson reflects upon his career as a drug dealer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jeff Henderson recalls his techniques for selling crack cocaine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jeff Henderson remembers learning to cook crack cocaine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jeff Henderson remembers his family's response to his drug dealing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jeff Henderson explains how he was caught and arrested for drug dealing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jeff Henderson remembers his arrival at the Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jeff Henderson describes the culture of the Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jeff Henderson describes what he learned from the Nation of Islam
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jeff Henderson describes what he learned from the white inmates
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jeff Henderson reflects upon his experiences in prison, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jeff Henderson reflects upon his experiences in prison, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jeff Henderson describes the kitchens at the Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jeff Henderson remembers his mentor at the Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jeff Henderson remembers the mentorship of Friendly Womack, Jr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jeff Henderson recalls his attempt to attend a culinary program in prison
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jeff Henderson describes the drug treatment program in Sheridan, Oregon
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jeff Henderson remembers the mentorship of Robert Gadsby
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jeff Henderson remembers working at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jeff Henderson talks about his wife and children
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Jeff Henderson recalls becoming a chef at the Altitude Sky Lounge in San Diego, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jeff Henderson remembers working at The Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Ray, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jeff Henderson recalls working at Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jeff Henderson remembers his move to Los Vegas, Nevada
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jeff Henderson recalls securing a position at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jeff Henderson describes his methods for motivating his kitchen staff
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jeff Henderson remembers becoming the executive chef of the Cafe Bellagio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jeff Henderson talks about the West Side Foundation and the Urban Education Consulting firm
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jeff Henderson describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jeff Henderson describes his autobiography, 'Cooked'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Jeff Henderson describes his plans for the future
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Jeff Henderson narrates his photographs