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Students vs. Chef Jeff in Culinary Competition, May 5

Tucson, AZ – Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson travels to Tucson this week to share his inspirational story with high school and college students, incarcerated individuals, and to help raise money for Pima Community College (PCC) scholarships through his Chef Jeff Project Culinary Competition.

An award-winning chef, best-selling author, Food Network television star, and inspirational public speaker, Chef Jeff is an ex-offender who turned his life around through cooking.  His visit in Tucson is sponsored by Pima Community College Foundation, and will culminate Thursday evening, May 5 at Casino del Sol's AVA Amphitheater, in a fast-paced culinary competition featuring four teams composed of well-known local chefs, college students enrolled in Pima Community College’s Center of Excellence in Hospitality Leadership, and high school students attending Pima County’s Joint Technical Education District (JTED) high schools.

Judging will be conducted by celebrity chefs for each of the rounds.  The winning team will face Chef Jeff and his team in a final cook-off.  Proceeds will provide scholarship support for students attending PCC.

Following the Chef Jeff Cooking Competition, on Friday the Chef will visit the Federal Corrections Institute and the U.S. Penitentiary in Tucson to share his story with incarcerated individuals. He will also visit the H.S. Lopez Family Foundation Center of Opportunity.  NOTE: These visits are not open to media or the public. 

Pima Community College will also sponsor an Education & Career Expo for students of high school age and up.

The public is welcome:

Thursday, May 5, 2022 at Casino del Sol AVA Amphitheater, 5655 W. Valencia Road

About Chef Jeff Henderson:

Jeff Henderson grew up on the tough streets of South Central Los Angeles. and San Diego. At 19 he was running a $35,000-a-week cocaine operation. At 24, Jeff Henderson was arrested and sent to prison, where he spent the next 10 years. While incarcerated, Jeff discovered a passion for cooking and the drive to turn his life around. While in prison he was transferred to Nellis Air Force Base to work in the dining hall. Henderson was accepted into the Culinary Training School for inmates at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.  Once released, Jeff eventually became the first African-American named "Chef de Cuisine" at Caesars Palace.  Eventually 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 has received widespread national attention on numerous TV and radio programs and print publications, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The Montel Williams Show, CNBC, NPR's All Things Considered, People and USA Today. As a passionate and powerful speaker, Jeff's appearances are in high demand across the country through his company The Henderson Group.

Jeff currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife Stacy Womack-Henderson, and 5 kids.


Libby Howell, APR, Executive Director
Media, Government and Community Relations

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