When we met Melvin Taylor last year as an 8th grader during one of our Powered by Service trainings, he told us about his unique passion for baking. Going around the room, he shyly told us that in his spare time he enjoys cooking food for his family. His favorite dish to make? Crème brûlée! That day, we told Melvin he should really claim his passion and consider a career as a chef. Ever since, his personal brand has been ‘Chef Melvin’ and he’s doing whatever it takes to manifest his dream. From getting straight A’s in his classes at McNair High School in Atlanta, to attending a culinary class offered at his school whenever he has a free period, Melvin is on his way to his goal of becoming a distinguished celebrity chef!
Recently, Usher’s New Look was able to help him work towards his goal by providing him the opportunity to network with six Food Network featured celebrity chefs, two of whom cook for two of his favorite rappers. Melvin was invited to an exclusive panel at Clarkston High School where the chefs spoke about their journeys and gave advice to students who aspire to become chefs. The panel panel was part of a new nationwide high school tour started by the six chefs to inspire other young people to follow in their footsteps. It included Chef Tregaye Frasier, Winner of Cut Throat Kitchen and Food Network Chopped Finalist, and Chef Jacoby Ponder, who connected with Melvin because of their similar backgrounds.
Ponder, who currently lives in Virginia and works as cook for various U.S senators, offered to personally mentor Melvin and provide him experience any time he has an event in the Atlanta area. He also connected him with Tanisha Jackson, an Atlanta pastry chef whose cakes have been featured on reality TV shows like ‘Love and Hip-Hop’.
Melvin sent us this text after the panel,
“Getting to meet the chefs on Friday was a wonderful thing, because it helps me with my passion. It also gives me great opportunity to better my craft. I really just appreciate how they took the time out of their day to talk to me…”
The next day at the Atlanta Leadership Academy, Melvin was on cloud nine. Students practiced pitching their brands in mock interviews. Melvin’s partner was Usher’s New Look President, Yvette Cook. Watch what she had to say about Melvin!
Thank you to all the chefs who made this possible for Melvin!