When I first moved to Durham I was young and lived on Liberty Street. It was interesting. Growing up I noticed drug dealers, streetwalkers and gang bangers and I realized that was not the life for me.
As the years go by I began to notice how food brings people together and it changes lives.
People are interested in good food and good food creates a bond with people and how they connect. While being disconnected from my community, being in the kitchen taught me valuable skills.
The first time I decided to cook was after an episode of 30 Minute Meals with Rachel Ray. Right after the episode I was hungry so I went to the kitchen and thawed out some chicken.
I seasoned my flour with seasoning salt, garlic powder, cayenne and black pepper. Then I grabbed my cast iron pan and heated up my oil. I began to cook for the first time. After I had prepped my flour, I began to bread the chicken. Then I began to fry the food. Hearing the oil sizzle and smelling the aroma from the chicken, it was going to be delicious.
All I could think about was my stomach.
I was hungry!
I was fourteen at the time so I don’t know how to describe the chicken exactly. But it gave me confidence to keep cooking.
My mama was at work that evening, so only my three younger brothers, who were 12-, 9- and 7-years-old at the time, were home. As I proceeded to feed my family the meal I prepared I noticed the smiles on their faces.
Their smiles said, “The food is good!”
With the thanks I received that day, I knew that the life I wanted to pursue was obtainable.
So I went to the kitchen more. I went into the kitchen and started to branch out into baking cakes and cookies. I began to notice I was a natural at cooking. Having more time to work in the kitchen was a blessing because we grew up with only little bits of food for the family.
After I graduate from Hillside next year, I want to go to the Navy to pursue cooking. The reason why I would like to join the Navy for cooking is I like to cook for lots of people. I want to travel and specialize in different foreign cuisines. There’s nothing specific I want to learn in the kitchen – I want to learn it all. I want to learn all cultures, all types of food.
When I leave the Navy I hope for it to pay for me to go to college, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) so that I can major in the culinary arts and open my own chain of restaurants.
It doesn’t matter what kind of restaurant I open, as long as we have good food.
Looking back when I was growing up on Liberty Street I am grateful for being placed in the situation I was. The gang bangers and drug dealers helped shaped me because it helped me see where I was, where I needed to be and how I was going to do it.
Hopefully, some day I hope to serve my community and the rest of the world.