Jeff Henderson’s journey from the streets of South Central Los Angeles to becoming an imprisoned drug dealer, and then transforming into an award-winning celebrity chef and best-selling author, serves as a powerful testament to the power of self-transformation. Jeff’s story is one of redemption and reinvention, and he serves as a role model for anyone seeking to overcome adversity and achieve their dreams.

He discovered his passion and talent for cooking in an unlikely place – prison – and has since used his experiences to inspire others to rise above their circumstances and realize their full potential. A strong advocate for helping others avoid his plight, he founded the Chef Jeff Project in 2020 to offer professional training in one of Las Vegas' top industries—food service. The youth referred to our program are 15–24 years of age and many have struggled with addiction, dropped out of high school, or aged out of foster care.  The program is seen as the last chance for many of these youth before facing more restrictive sanctions in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Jeff is the creator of Food Network’s reality series, The Chef Jeff Project, host of Family Style with Chef Jeff, and the star of the nationally syndicated series, Flip My Food with Chef Jeff. He is also the best-selling author of two books. In his dynamic and engaging presentations, Jeff shares his transformative life lessons and reveals the secrets to overcoming hardship, identifying personal talents, and achieving success.

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Chef Jeff is the best-selling author of “Cooked” and the former star of the Food Network’s “The Chef Jeff Project.” He uses his experiences to illustrate how unchecked bias can negatively impact a company’s bottom line. He also shows how conscious efforts to address bias can change the course of a person’s life, as evidenced by his own journey.

Inspirational speaker Chef Jeff knows what it feels like to be hungry, and he knows what it is to struggle. In this presentation he shares two decades of life lessons that he gained on his redemptive journey from drug dealer to nationally acclaimed speaker. In this talk you will discover your hidden business aptitudes, make life-changing decisions, and more.

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Cooked: My Journey from the Streets to the Stove

By twenty-one, Jeff Henderson was making up to $35,000 a week cooking and selling crack cocaine. By twenty-four, he had been sentenced to nineteen and a half years in prison on federal drug trafficking charges. It was an all-too-familiar story for a young man raised on the streets of South Central LA. But what happened next wasn't. Once inside prison, Jeff Henderson worked his way up from dishwasher to chief prison cook, and when he was released in 1996, he had found his passion and his dream—he would become a professional chef. Barely five years out of federal prison, he was on his way to becoming an executive chef, as well as being a sought-after public speaker on human potential and a dedicated mentor to at-risk youth. A window into the streets and the fast-paced kitchens of world-renowned restaurants, Cooked is a very human story with a powerful message of commitment, redemption, and change.

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