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Chef Jeff Project on FN

EvanWilliams Sep 18, 2008 07:35 AM

I saw an ad for this new show on FN and it looks like it could be pretty good.

That only thing that bothers me is that it seems like a throwback to a show Bobby Flay did a while back. It was the show where he followed a class of high school kids that were in a culinary program and then gave one of them (or two of them if I remember right) a scholarship at the end. The show was well done and didn't use the straight up "by the numbers" reality show (I'm looking at you Dinner Impossible/Throwdown).


  1. ccbweb Sep 18, 2008 06:31 PM

    Why would it bother you? If the show was well done then something that is similar should be welcomed. I don't know much of anything about the Chef Jeff project apart from the few details gleaned from the ad I saw last night.

    1. h
      HillJ Sep 18, 2008 09:02 PM

      I saw the trailer for this show tonight. My impression is that Chef Jeff's project is to help troubled and under served young people with a career path; namely culinary arts. If I'm remembeirng Flay's show, that wasn't the same concept.

      5 Replies
      1. re: HillJ
        LikestoEatout Sep 19, 2008 05:14 AM

        It is similiar though, to a program Jamie Oliver did a few years ago where he took troubled teens in, taught them culinary skills and had them run a restaurant.

        1. re: LikestoEatout
          HillJ Sep 19, 2008 05:40 AM

          I never caught that show. I enjoy Jamie Oliver.

        2. re: HillJ
          irishnyc Sep 19, 2008 05:58 AM

          Flay's program, while I don't think specifically stated it was for underpriviledged kids, is a regular program at the high school the show was filmed in - Long Island City High School in Queens NYC, an area that has some pretty low-income residents, including several housing projects that are zoned for the high school. I think it's a great thing for these kids, and even dearer to me because my dad attended LIC at its original location, as I would have had I not gotten a scholarship to a Catholic school.

          1. re: irishnyc
            HillJ Sep 19, 2008 06:35 AM

            irishnyc, thanks for sharing what you know about the backstory.

            1. re: HillJ
              HillJ Oct 12, 2008 10:42 AM


              NPR Interview on Chef Jeff

        3. Withnail42 Sep 19, 2008 07:30 AM

          From what I have seen from the adds this seems like a more urban version of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen(I think that was the name.) where he trains kids to cook in his restaurant.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Withnail42
            shallots Oct 7, 2008 04:01 PM

            I just caught an ad for this on N.C.I.S. and that it's going to be on FN.
            Just a happy bunch of chefs sharing a group hug?

            Any good reviews of previews out there?

          2. Luvfriedokra Oct 10, 2008 05:41 PM

            I love Chef Jeff!! He was on Oprah a year or two ago and his story is very inspiring. From drug dealer, to 10 years in prison, to exec chef at the Bellagio. I also got to meet him and he is a really nice, down to earth guy. I'll definitely be watching his show

            2 Replies
            1. re: Luvfriedokra
              jgg13 Oct 14, 2008 10:40 AM

              Wasn't he on one of Irvine's Dinner Impossibles a while back?

              1. re: jgg13
                chef chicklet Oct 14, 2008 12:02 PM

                Yes, and he was very humble, Chef Irvine was rather his usaly self, sorry to say.

            2. w
              wayshower Oct 11, 2008 12:04 PM

              NY Times today 10/11 has a wonderful review of the show... On page C11. You can check the Times online an read part of the review. Finally, a show with a soul.

              1. d
                Dutchvanobvious Oct 12, 2008 03:17 PM

                I did some work on his show while they were filming here. I will raise a glass and make a toast as I watch the premiere. Congrats Jeff and family!!

                1. Caroline1 Oct 12, 2008 08:11 PM

                  Just watched the opening show. Of all the "reality" food shows, this one is the cream! Hope it stays that way through the entire run.

                  1. j
                    jujuthomas Oct 14, 2008 09:12 AM

                    watched and enjoyed it. he really seems to want to help these young people avoid the mistakes he made.

                    1. chef chicklet Oct 14, 2008 12:01 PM

                      This is the first reality show FN has shown that actually is believable. They did a wonderful job selecting the show's contributors. (I'm sure they had a ton to choose from but this group is perfect for the first run.

                      Chef Jeff, I swear, he did it through sheer determination and persistence, pretty admirable guy with a heart and good idea for helping others that he truly can relate to.
                      I'll be watching weekly and pulling for all of them.

                      What a walking miracle he is.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chef chicklet
                        AMFM Oct 17, 2008 06:44 AM

                        agreed. great premise and well-done. really want to see them all succeed.

                      2. EWSflash Oct 19, 2008 08:51 AM

                        I've only seen the first episode, but I liked it very much and so far I think it's a great idea. I'll continue to watch the show and hope that FN does more like this and less like Simply Delicioso and the other dilettantes-with-cleavage shows.

                        1. TrishUntrapped Oct 19, 2008 08:57 AM

                          While waiting for Game 6 of the ALCS (Which the Sox won, yeah!) my husband and I caught a re-rerun of the first episode of the Chef Jeff Project.

                          It is not something I would have ordinarily tuned in on, but glad I did. Really loved the concept, the students and Chef Jeff. His pep talk at the end of their first service was truly inspiring.

                          Even my husband (anxiously awaiting the start of the game in his lucky Red Sox hat, Yaz shirt and Sox socks) liked it too. It sparked a conversation about helping others succeed, and how good something like this is for the students, society, Jeff and all of us as human beings.

                          Some of the more interesting tid bits involved Jeff's little quips such as how soap operas are especially popular in prison and inmates follow them for years...

                          Food for thought.

                          Good stuff all around. Go Adam!

                          20 Replies
                          1. re: TrishUntrapped
                            chazmo Oct 20, 2008 10:54 AM

                            Sorry Trish it should be go away Adam. His attitude and use of the n word are very offensive. I know it adds drama and probably keeps people watching but his lack of respect makes me want to change the channel.

                            1. re: chazmo
                              chef chicklet Oct 20, 2008 11:49 AM

                              I'm amazed by your anser chazmo, these kids have been beaten down for years, doubtful they are going to change in a couple of weeks. Give them a chance to make you proud. Drama, no that is his personality, he doesn' t know any better.

                              Ever hear how drugs and alcohol stifle emotional growth at the age you started using. Adam is juvenile, it will take him awhile but with understanding and a strong hand, he'll make it. Change the channel, but it would be nice if more people would encourage them. It takes a village.

                              1. re: chef chicklet
                                chazmo Oct 20, 2008 12:15 PM

                                Thank you for your reply chef chiclet. I think I may be watching the Food Network for the wrong reasons. I watch for food related entertainment. Shows where I can see people making dishes or going to places to eat dishes that could teach me and inspire me to make some of the things they are doing. There are still shows on FN that do that.
                                When I saw the promos for the Chef Jeff project I though it looked to preachy but I'd give it a chance. I've enjoyed the 2 episodes so far. I'm not going to change my mind on how I feel about Adam though. Apparently he's had a tough life so far. So have the other people on the show and they don't seem to have problems working with the others.

                                1. re: chazmo
                                  nancyd Oct 20, 2008 01:04 PM

                                  I agree with chazmo that it should be "Go away Adam." And possibly "Go away Shante" as well. But not necessarily for the same reason. Their attitudes and lack of respect compared to the others is beyond acceptable to me. And besides, if they don't want this chance and aren't willing to make the effort, there are hundreds, probably thousands, of other willing to step up.

                                  1. re: nancyd
                                    DiningDiva Oct 20, 2008 02:20 PM

                                    Adam and Shante may seem appalling, but as someone who has employed people like them, there are many more out there like them, or worse.

                                    We recently lost an employee not unlike Shante. My employee was a single parent wtih 4 kids. She had been abused by her husband, was a substance abuse statistic, and living with her kids in a local shelter for abused women and children. She was enrolled and half way through a respected culinary arts program at one of the local community colleges when we hired her. Her interpersonal skills weren't terrific from having been a victim for many years. While she had decent production skills her reliabilty and attendance were spotty. She was, frankly, overwhelmed by life and her personal responsiblities, not to mention the program the family shelter required of anyone living there. Employees with drug histories are often even less reliable and usually disappear into the night in a matter of a few weeks.

                                    It's not a matter of "wanting" the opportunity, they all want it. It's a matter of understanding that work, effort and responsibility on their part is need in order to turn the "want" into a reality. It's easy to talk the talk (which is what Adam and Shante are doing now), it's far more difficult to walk the walk that goes along with the talk. I've got to hand it to Chef Jeff, he's holding them accountable - probably for the first time in their lives - and making them produce, IOWs, he's making them walk the walk to back up their professed desire to change their lives.

                                    Adam, Shante and all the rest are very typical of a segment of the entry level people coming in the back door of any food establishment looking for a job. They know they need to change, may even want to change, but lack the skills - both culinary and interpersonal - to make it happen. They're frustrated, they're marginalized and they think life has dealt them a dirty hand, that's definitely a recipe for attitude. They fail to realize or understand their role in their life or how the choices they've made have impacted it. The attitude that Shante and Adam display is offensive, but it's also very real and part of what they'll have to work through in order to change their lives. It's hard to watch when it's not something you're used to seeing. It is, unfortunately, very real and something management has to deal with daily.

                                    1. re: DiningDiva
                                      Icantread Oct 21, 2008 05:12 AM

                                      All the more reason to applaud chef Jeff for not showing them the door. Making them a statistic is easy. Making them into something is real magic and the point of the show. The ones nancy and chazmo want kicked out (and I see him gone as well) are the ones who need this the most and realize it the least.

                                      1. re: DiningDiva
                                        KenWritez Oct 27, 2008 05:52 AM

                                        "Adam and Shante may seem appalling, but as someone who has employed people like them, there are many more out there like them, or worse"

                                        Excellent post! Yes! These kids have to overcome not only opposition from society around them, but also their own shortcomings. Their work is twice as hard and they have half the tools as more fortunate kids who grew up in healthier, more structured households.

                                        Frankly, I'm amazed Adam has stayed with this program as long as he has. He seems to have a smaller pool of interpersonal skills than anyone else and the worst self-image. I am rooting for him, I want him to succeed (hell, I want *all* of them to succeed!) but he's got to want it more than he wants to go back to his gang-banging life.

                                        I like that this show is not an elimination.

                                        1. re: KenWritez
                                          AMFM Oct 27, 2008 07:31 AM

                                          i agree VERY much with your last statement. the best thing for these kids is that its not really a competition. it would be SO easy for them to be out - or give up if they were certain they were going to be. But the fact that you can reap the rewards of your own effort is wonderful. Too often there is more holding these kids back than themselves, now it is just their own weaknesses (and we all have them - but often we have other things pushing us) so if they can learn to push through those they should be very strong indeed. i wish them all the best.

                                          1. re: KenWritez
                                            OCAnn Oct 27, 2008 08:46 AM

                                            While I want Adam to succeed, his "I'm the best chef here" attitude is annoying. Someone needs to knock him down to size and then rebuild him.

                                            1. re: OCAnn
                                              DiningDiva Oct 27, 2008 09:16 AM

                                              I pretty much think that's what Chef Jeff was doing with him in the walk-in last night. Chef is right, the kid's anger issues are going to be his undoing. At the actual event he got into all the back of the house cooking stuff. Good line cooks need a bit of attitdue and bravada. They don't need the anger. They have to be able to take direction and then follow through.

                                              I was ready to strangle Shante last night.

                                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                                OCAnn Oct 27, 2008 09:29 AM

                                                While I was aghast w/Shante dancing, I was glad the others knew better than to join in. And Maria, the youngest of the bunch, completely impressed me w/ her leadership skills...and using them w/o stepping on older toes.

                                                1. re: OCAnn
                                                  DiningDiva Oct 27, 2008 10:10 AM

                                                  Maria rocked it last night. I was really impressed that she managed to get the stations set up and going at the catering event before Chef arrived. It wasn't perfect, but she did a darn fine job. Her tacos looked good too!

                                              2. re: OCAnn
                                                karenfinan Oct 27, 2008 11:09 PM

                                                I think the problem is he has been knocked down so many times already. Knocking him down more is not the answer. It does take great strengthand perseverence to do what Chef Jeff is doing. I applaud him

                                        2. re: chazmo
                                          chef chicklet Oct 21, 2008 08:11 AM

                                          NO you're not watching FN for the wrong reasons, this is only one show. And as you say, there's plenty to watch there when it comes to cooking and learning.

                                          I hope I didn''t offend you, this show isn't for everyone and I hear what you're saying. By all means I'm not asking you to change your mind about Adam. I won't make excuses for his behavior, he is more than a brat.

                                          It's good we're talking about this, and I'm grateful this show aired, because we all need to watch and learn. It was a brave step for Food Network it is really not the your everyday cooking show. I applaud them. I have no idea of statistics or information but I'm wondering if the restaurant industry has more experience in hiring at risk individuals?

                                          1. re: chef chicklet
                                            chazmo Oct 21, 2008 09:45 AM

                                            You did not offend me. Well maybe a little with the "It take a village " comment. But I do enjoy the show and will keep watching.

                                            1. re: chef chicklet
                                              Icantread Oct 21, 2008 10:36 AM

                                              I think the smartest set-up about this show is the viewer's involvement. Most viewers have a sense of how monumental an opportunity it is for these kids and we probably have a better understanding of the importance of this than they do.

                                              1. re: chef chicklet
                                                soupkitten Nov 7, 2008 03:44 PM

                                                "I'm wondering if the restaurant industry has more experience in hiring at risk individuals?"

                                                :) it takes a special type of person to work in 104 degree heat, on your feet for 12 hrs for $10/hour no benefits, lifting heavy loads, ridiculous amounts of pressure & stress, chances are getting yelled at by a toque, --work, drink, sleep, get up and do it again. not a lot of folks would do this, it's why it's blue-collar work, like cab driving and cannery work. it's dog years. a lot of people are immigrants, a lot of people come from absolutely horrific backgrounds/childhoods. when you get past the tattoos and the profanity and the eff-you attitudes you have some really beautiful and sensitive, but damaged, people. what's amazing to me is that so many people who have been through such personal hardship have a real and pathological *need* to feed(nourish, comfort) others, and with real soul and deep caring. i want to write about this someday, after the rest of me is used up.

                                                i haven't seen the show, don't have cable any more. but it sounds interesting. the "celebrity chef" phenomenon is annoying to me, because the people actually preparing the food in restaurants don't really look/live like that, for the most part. the tattooed mexican dude is the talented, evolved, subtle chef, while the french guy in the office chair takes the credit. i agree wholeheartedly with anthony bourdain on this front.

                                          2. re: chazmo
                                            TrishUntrapped Oct 20, 2008 03:25 PM

                                            My thoughts are that if you can reach one Adam in this world, it's a great thing. (Like Loren Eiesely's philosophy of the Starfish thrower.)

                                            Yeah, he's a hard case, and he's not going to change overnight. But I would rather see a real effort be made to help him, and it succeed, then giving up the first time the kid messes up, uses profanity, or resorts to gang behavior.

                                            I guess I didn't view this as mere Food Network entertainment fluff or a game show where there is one winner at the end. I am hoping they will all survive.

                                            1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                              DiningDiva Oct 20, 2008 03:29 PM

                                              Trish, I'm with you, I'd like to see them all make it to the end.

                                              1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                chicgail Nov 7, 2008 02:29 PM

                                                These people -- most obviously Shante and Adam -- have decided that there are certain ways they have to be to survive. Adam has to be tough and a gangbanger; Shante has to con people to get away with what she thinks she can't do.

                                                I think Chef Jeff is doing a great job of looking past that false stuff and relating to them in terms of what wants to happen in their lives -- what's actually possible if those false ways of being were gone. His commitment to them is huge. Someone else would have fired them long ago, which would just reinforce their already ways of being. I think the show is inspiring and powerful.

                                          3. OCAnn Oct 19, 2008 11:18 AM

                                            I hate to admit that a couple portions made me teary-eyed. Great first episode...I'll be watching the series.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: OCAnn
                                              HillJ Oct 19, 2008 02:25 PM

                                              OCAnn, I felt the same way. After watching several episodes I am a fan. Chef Jeff is a rockstar in my book. FN invested wisely this time. Heartwarming message about second chances.

                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                Kajikit Oct 20, 2008 05:46 AM

                                                I hate to say it, but we tried to watch it last night and we both found it very boring because they weren't really DOING anything!

                                                1. re: Kajikit
                                                  OCAnn Oct 20, 2008 08:19 AM

                                                  I'll agree that last night's episode wasn't spectacular. The first episode, where they introduced the six young adults, was a good one; esp w/Alonzo & Adam butting heads. My favourite is Alonzo, for keeping his head down, focusing on work and avoiding confrontation w/Adam. I hope all six turn their lives around.

                                                  1. re: Kajikit
                                                    DiningDiva Oct 20, 2008 12:40 PM

                                                    While there might not have been a lot of cooking action going on, there actually was quite a bit going on. Chef Jeff was doing what many executive chefs, food serivce managers and restaurant owner do a lot of every day, and that is managing the staff. Once off the line, sorting out the personnel issues can take up more of the day than expected.

                                                    This episode may not have been about the food, but it was about teamwork, kitchen flow and how to conduct yourself in a kitchen in order to stay employed, Far too many people these days have no clue about any of these, not just at risk kids. I can't tell you how many times I've hauled employees into an office or the walk-in for a "chat", or how often I've had to used the walk-in to scream and blow off steam instead of screaming at inept employees, or how frustrating it is to see an employee holding up the stainless steel while a co-worker is swamped or in the weeds. "It's not my job" is not an aceptable answer, especially if you want to work in a kitchen.

                                                    The lesson Chef Jeff taught last night was huge. Learn to take responsibility for yourself and your actions, be on time, be a team player, learn to trust your co-workers, learn to give direction (i.e. how to develop interpersonal skills) and to begin to develop your palate. Learning to cook is the easy part, learning to be a productive and successful employee is the hard part and Chef Jeff began laying that foundation in last nights episode. This stuff isn't glamorous and I'd probably agree, no, it doesn't translate to television very well, but it's a critical piece in their education. But, man, it's a powerful and valuable lesson. If they don't learn it now when will they, most employers don't have the time or patience to teach it.

                                                    1. re: DiningDiva
                                                      Phaedrus Oct 27, 2008 09:39 AM

                                                      Given my druthers: watching Chef Jeff work on these kids versus more of the same food challenge/Paula Deen schnockered/RR yummo/Sandra Lee tablescape/Guy Fieri bombast, i will take Chef Jeff every time. Even with the lack of a food focus.

                                                      1. re: Phaedrus
                                                        Kajikit Nov 7, 2008 08:22 AM

                                                        It grows on you... it just wasn't quite what I expected to see.

                                                      2. re: DiningDiva
                                                        jlawrence01 Oct 28, 2008 09:57 AM

                                                        >>Chef Jeff was doing what many executive chefs, food serivce managers and restaurant owner do a lot of every day, and that is managing the staff. Once off the line, sorting out the personnel issues can take up more of the day than expected. <<

                                                        Honestly, when I was in the business, we often hired ex-cons, high school drop-outs, recovering alcoholics and drug users, people with emotional issues (bipolar, etc.), as well as mentally challenged employees. All these employees required "special handling" which included extra training and placing people in positions where they can be successful.

                                                        I had one guy who could really cook great meals - when I was in the facility even though I was not in the kitchen. If I was off, he immediately lost his confidence as well as his focus.

                                                        I did a lot of training on chemical usage with nice hand-outs, just to find out that three of seven crew members did not know how to read.

                                                        I don't think that the six employees he have are very different than most of the folks that I hired. The hardest part are the basics - getting the people to show ON TIME everyday in uniform, ready to work. They are not used to having any order in their lives.

                                                      3. re: Kajikit
                                                        HillJ Oct 20, 2008 04:25 PM

                                                        Kajikit, it remains to be seen if this program will be high food entertainment each episode. But the message and the rarity of the message in prime tv will keep me coming back. DiningDiva said it ALL for me.

                                                  2. KenWritez Nov 2, 2008 10:42 PM

                                                    Well, the drama continues.

                                                    --SPOILERS --

                                                    I think Shante is on her way out. She lied to Chef about why she was late the day the crew prepped food for the Dodger Stadium event and Chef caught her in it the next day, but allowed her to continue anyway.

                                                    I don't think she wants success badly enough, as much as the others. She's still playing games. I dunno, maybe this is the wake-up call she needs.

                                                    While I was watching, I said if I were Chef, I would have fired her long ago (late four times before this?!) but now I wonder if I'd be making a mistake to do so, making a mistake to hold her to the same performance standard I'd hold someone who was from a more advantaged background. Should I expect someone with a broken leg to run as fast as a sprinter? Yes, I expect both to finish the race, but I don't expect both to have comparable times.

                                                    At the same time, I know an employer has to draw a line and say, "If you don't perform to this level, you're gone." So maybe we give Shante a few extra chances to make it to that line....?

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: KenWritez
                                                      Phaedrus Nov 3, 2008 04:47 AM

                                                      I think you need to hold her to the same standards, or else you will lose the entire crew. If I were busting my butt trying to get there in time, why should she get a break over me? Plus, its the same amount of work, people need to get it done and it is hard enough with the full crew, let alone with one down.

                                                      I think the effort should come from people showing her HOW to get it done. I'll spare you the fisherman metaphor, but someone needs to show her what she eneds to do to get her life in ordfer. I agree that she is starting behind but the point of the whole exercise is to learn about being a capable member of the profession and show these folks not only what is expected, but how to get there.

                                                      1. re: Phaedrus
                                                        Sean Nov 3, 2008 05:11 AM

                                                        Can her, let the other , less fortunate peolpe who REALLY want this, fill her spot.

                                                      2. re: KenWritez
                                                        iluvtennis Nov 3, 2008 06:06 AM

                                                        I know this is sad since i'm not even 30, but i fell asleep before the end of the show! The last part i saw was after Cheff Jeff visited her home, then asked her to bring in proof the next day that her car had been messed up. Did she bring in the proof, continue to stick to her story with no proof, or 'fess up to concocting the whole story? What happened?

                                                        1. re: iluvtennis
                                                          MplsM ary Nov 3, 2008 09:30 AM

                                                          She did bring in proof, but it seemed fishy. She had two identical looking receipts (with no business names) from two places that managed to magically fix her car while the sun was still shining on the day her car was vandalized. Shante just keeps backing into the corner she's made for herself.

                                                          There won't be a police report. I have no idea what will happen after she finally confesses she lied about her car, risking not only her position but also those she drives.

                                                          Did she not call anyone? Didn't anyone call Chef Jeff to tell him they'd be late? I am a total tardyphobe and I'd have called as soon as I knew I'd be late.

                                                          1. re: MplsM ary
                                                            jlawrence01 Nov 3, 2008 11:22 AM

                                                            >>Did she not call anyone? Didn't anyone call Chef Jeff to tell him they'd be late? I am a total tardyphobe and I'd have called as soon as I knew I'd be late.

                                                            I am in your boat. When I started in the business, you were expected to be at work ten minutes PRIOR to your scheduled shift. The kichen/DR manager would have you line up and would inspect your uniform, finger nails, etc. to make sure that you met the dress code.

                                                            However, if the six young employees "had it all together", they would not be on this show. They have to learn the basic life skills - showing up on time, ready to work, working as part of the team.

                                                            Personally, I would have bet my paycheck that Shante was not truthful. I guess that I have heard nearly every story a dozen times. I am not sure that she would still be working. I don't like being lied to.

                                                            OTOH, since I was managing a hospital kitchen, I once asked an employee to report to work even though he was sick as the guy had an absenteeism problem. Upon his arrival, I sent him to the employee's health doctor and he was hospitalized immediately. I felt about 6 inches tall.

                                                        2. re: KenWritez
                                                          DiningDiva Nov 3, 2008 07:56 AM

                                                          Darn Daylight Savings Time change...I missed last night's episode. But in answer to your question, from an operators standpoint, yes you do need to hold her to the same standard as others. That's the standard that she's going to have to meet in the outside world. If she expects to be employed in a "real world" restaurant, she (or anyone for that matter) is going to have to abide by the established rules and regulations for the operation and punctuality is usually pretty high on that list. Most employers will cut some slack for occasional tardiness, but if a pattern of lateness emerges, the person is usually history.

                                                          Advantaged background or not, plenty of people make it to work on time every day, why should Shante be treated any differently? If a person wants to work bad enough, they'll usually find a way to get there.

                                                          1. re: DiningDiva
                                                            Kajikit Nov 7, 2008 08:27 AM

                                                            The getting to work late is one thing... but lying about it, and keeping on making up more elaborate stories? She's really backing herself into a corner here, and it seems to me that he's not going to have any choice but to get rid of her. (and it's not just going to mess with her on the show - what about everyone who's watching it and who now knows how unreliable she is? Would YOU want to give her a job?) It's really sad that she's sabotaging herself like this.

                                                        3. Phaedrus Nov 8, 2008 05:45 AM

                                                          I find it both ironic and hopeful that the show is on FoodTV. Given the channel's focus on the mundane (Food Network Challenges), the silly (Sandra Lee, Paula Deen Party show, NFNS) and the focus on home cooks, this is one of the better reality based shows. It does not go gaga over punishing the contestants and it certainly puts a human face to the people working behind the scenes.

                                                          My first thought was: is Food TV turning over a new leaf? And after my proclivity towards cynicism kicked into overdrive, my second thought is: when are they going to cancel it or make Chef Jeff go on Iron Chef America with the crew, i.e. jump the shark.

                                                          1. b
                                                            Bunson Nov 10, 2008 05:02 PM

                                                            This is a great show and a refreshing breath of air to not only the Food Network which has focused more on home cooking and gameshows, but "reality" shows as a whole. It's interesting to see how some (Alonzo, Shante, Adam) treat the process as a competition..."Me" instead of "We" even though there's no elimination process and everyone is eligible to earn a scholarship. I'm assuming that has to do with their background and the need to establish themselves as Alpha-type personalities to earn respect and get by in life.

                                                            After watching last nights episode in Las Vegas I was amazed at how far they've all come since the show started. Maria, Brett, and Katherine clearly have bright futures ahead of them. Alonzo needs to bring up his self-confidence and he's there, he certainly seems to have put his gangbanging lifestyle behind him. You see Adam working on his personality but you have to worry about how he would do once Jeff is no longer there to encourage and support him...it's like the process is ending a bit too early where you're not sure if he'll turn the leaf. Shante has seemed the least open to both personal and culinary change...she doesn't seem to want it and the enthusiasm isn't there, and in my opinion is the only one that doesn't appear to have earned a scholarhip.

                                                            Looking forward to next week's finale.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Bunson
                                                              KenWritez Nov 11, 2008 12:25 PM

                                                              I've read posters' comments after mine about Giving Shante extra chances and done some thinking. (Ow, that hurt!)

                                                              Chef is walking a fine line between expecting normal behavior from Shante who's not had a normal background, and giving her the leeway to mature in his environment. If he fired her the the first time she was late, I think that would only reinforce her victim mentality; "I'll never measure up so why try?" However, if he lets her go too long without being held accountable, that's going to destroy his team and teach Shante that she doesn't need to change her ways and attitude.

                                                              The fair solution as I see it is to give her the same number of tardies as anyone else, (three and you're gone, for example), but invest some extra time in talking with her to help her see the consequences of her actions, let her know if she chooses to be late, she chooses the consequences for being late.

                                                              IOTW, to do exactly as Chef is doing now, although I would not have given her four tardies were I Chef, especially after establishing what a hard-ass I was in the first episodes. I would tell Shante to provide me with either the police report or the number for the report, and then I would call the PD and ask if such-and-such report existed. (Big surprise to learn it doesn't.)

                                                              If Shante doesn't pull her head out, then I don't see why she should graduate and receive the scholarship. If she can't survive Chef's short-term project, no way she'd survive long-term culinary school.

                                                              And everything I've said goes for Adam and the others as well.

                                                            2. Icantread Nov 11, 2008 01:18 PM

                                                              Did we get an explanation from Shante finally? I thought that was left hanging after last episode but she's still there without closure this episode. . .
                                                              I understand in real life such decisions should be private, but it's a TV show, I'd like to know what happened.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Icantread
                                                                trouttr Nov 12, 2008 08:56 AM

                                                                I agree that we were really left hanging about the Shante situation.

                                                                It appeared to me from what was broadcast in the previous episode that she was lying and that Jeff said if she was he would have to take some action. If they were okay with making that situation part of the show, then I think that they should let us know what happened.

                                                                1. re: trouttr
                                                                  jlawrence01 Nov 12, 2008 11:04 AM

                                                                  >>It appeared to me from what was broadcast in the previous episode that she was lying and that Jeff said if she was he would have to take some action. If they were okay with making that situation part of the show, then I think that they should let us know what happened.

                                                                  Or maybe he knew she was lying and she knew that he knew she was lying and he decided to "let it ride". Not the most effective management style **BUT** he does want them to succeed.

                                                                  I have to admit that there were a few people over the years that "should have been " fired a lot sooner than the they were.

                                                                  1. re: trouttr
                                                                    Phaedrus Nov 12, 2008 11:22 AM

                                                                    Maybe they are saving it for the big finale.

                                                                2. TrishUntrapped Nov 17, 2008 02:21 AM

                                                                  It's over now, and it is clear some of these kids are moving forward quickly, while others are not.

                                                                  But for even the ones who may not make it, it was clear they learned an awful lot about themselves from Jeff.

                                                                  What a good human being he is. Right on.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                    Kajikit Nov 18, 2008 06:47 PM

                                                                    I missed the last episode (we're staying in a motel with no food network) so I'm glad to hear that all six of the young people got their shot... I hope it works out for them!

                                                                  2. Phaedrus Nov 17, 2008 05:13 AM

                                                                    I am oh so disappointed to hear about Adam, I thought he had changed the most out of all those kids.

                                                                    It is strange, you knew that they were going to give all those kids a scholie but you were still tugged along for the emotional roller coaster because the show was able to connect the kids with us the audience. well done.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus
                                                                      Buckethead Nov 17, 2008 08:21 AM

                                                                      I also thought Adam had come the farthest of them all, but it also seemed to me that he has the worst emotional problems of any of them, things that can't be sorted out in 5 weeks with Chef Jeff. It's too bad he decided not to accept that job offer in Texas.

                                                                      I do think Shante should have been let go, I think Chef Jeff was probably serious when he said he was going to fire her if she lied to him about her car (which, from what we saw on the show, she obviously did) but was overruled by FN. If she can't be bothered to show up on time when she's being given a chance to get a free scholarship, how would anyone expect her to show up on time to an actual job? Throughout the show she acted as if the whole thing was a bother to her.

                                                                      1. re: Buckethead
                                                                        chicgail Nov 17, 2008 09:29 AM

                                                                        I think the attitude you detected from Shante was a cover for her deep resentment and resignation about what life has dealt her. Neither her mom, her dad or her husband showed up for her graduation. I'm sure that wasn't an isolated incident for her. She has to do something to cover up and handle the feeling of rejection.

                                                                        She may not make it in culinary schoolt, but at this point, it's her gameo win or lose and no one else's. She's going to have to dig deep.

                                                                        1. re: chicgail
                                                                          DiningDiva Nov 17, 2008 10:16 AM

                                                                          I think you're right. I think the wrap up party last night kind of explained a lot of things about Shante. In the "where are they now' phase, it said she is attending culinary school part time. I think that actually says quite a bit about her desire to change her circumstances. Next to Adam, she probably had the worst personal obstacles in terms of being able to follow through. If she can make it through even half the program and get employed in the industry she can do alright. With 4 youngs kids and no support system whatsoever at home, her odds, unfortunately, are probably not so great. I was surprised she was even enrolled at all...

                                                                      2. re: Phaedrus
                                                                        jlawrence01 Nov 17, 2008 10:00 AM

                                                                        To his credit, Chef Jeff selected six young people from troubled backgrounds, invited them into the kitchen, and gave them all scholarships to a good culinary program. What he did was incredible.

                                                                        If three or four of his students turn out to be productive workers and citizens, he has done quite well. There are going to be some that just don't make it. And they are going to miss out on a lot.

                                                                        Personally, if I was still running a kitchen, there would be three people that I would probably hire. I would hope that the folks that hire these six know their story and would dog them to strive to be their best.

                                                                      3. Luvfriedokra Nov 17, 2008 03:03 PM

                                                                        Loved the whole show! I think Cheff Jeff is amazing to try and give back and change lives. I'm also adopting Alonzo's hybrid word "flustrated'.

                                                                        1. Phaedrus Nov 17, 2008 04:33 PM

                                                                          How much time had elapsed since the competition and the family reunions?

                                                                          I know Alonzo's cornrows were gone when he saw his family. I seem to remember that Chef Jeff had black jacket on in the competition and a white one at the meeting with the families.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus
                                                                            Icantread Nov 18, 2008 07:18 AM

                                                                            I thought he said the next day. surprised by the lack of cornrows from one day to the next as well. I hope one day these kids (Adam included) realize just how many people across the nation were rooting for them.

                                                                            1. re: Icantread
                                                                              DiningDiva Nov 18, 2008 07:33 AM

                                                                              Even though Adam received the scholarship, he still has to either complete high school (not likely) or due it via GED. My guess is that both options are pretty intimidating to someone who (most likely) dropped out of HS in part because he was a poor student and saw no value in continuing. To do the coursework for the GED he's probably got to work through a whole 'nother set of issues.

                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                OCAnn Nov 18, 2008 11:08 AM

                                                                                My guess is that's why he (Adam) specifically got a job offer while none of the others did. That one chef recognised the likelihood of Adam ever finishing school and gave him the chance to work.

                                                                                Otherwise, I thought the finale, while ending on a fairly optimistic note, was anticlimactic (everyone getting a scholarship was predictable). I wanted to see the students cook and interact more....

                                                                                I think the CJP is a great show and hope that it continues. I also hope that ALL the kids take advantage of the great opportunity given to them to change their lives, become productive members of society and give back.

                                                                                1. re: OCAnn
                                                                                  karenfinan Nov 18, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                                                  I work with at risk kids, and I wondered if possibly ( I am NOT making a diagnosis, just asking a question) Adam has fetal alcohol syndrome. The speech impediment and facial features make me think it could be so. This would explain some of his behaviors, and difficulty handling his emotions, understanding consequences for his behavior, etc.

                                                                          2. h
                                                                            HillJ Nov 17, 2008 04:58 PM

                                                                            All of you weighing in on this thread made the enjoyment of CJP even more interesting. I'd love to know how the kids are doing but I did come across an entertainment piece that Chef Jeff's life is about to go hollywood..played by Will Smith.


                                                                            1. j
                                                                              jujuthomas Nov 19, 2008 11:41 AM

                                                                              I was very touched by the graduation, I hope that these young people take advantage of this opportunity to improve their lives. They made such progress during their time in the program, it would be a shame if they didn't make the most of it!

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