Every chef has a journey to where he/she is today and that is no different for chef Wendell Price, “Chef to the Stars.” The Texas-native honed his culinary skills from some of the best, traveled the world, opened more than 20 restaurants (11 of which have been his own), cooked for Hollywood’s elite and faced a few setbacks.
His book, “Watermelon Dreams and Chocolate Thoughts,” is a memoir from his childhood in Texas to his climb to the top and the journey that took him from Asia to Los Angeles. “One contract and party led to another,” says Price and before long he was cooking for Elizabeth Taylor, Morgan Freeman, T.D. Jakes, Priscilla Presley, Johnnie Cochran and more. Price also brought his signature culinary dishes to the sets of “The Martin Lawrence Show,” Living Single’ and the movies “Hustle and Flow” and “Tin Cup.”
The successful chef and restaurateur wrote a book with the late, great Isaac Hayes called “Cooking with Heart and Soul,” opened Café Noir in Houston with Olympian Carl Lewis and was the executive chef at the former restaurant, Georgia, owned by Denzel Washington and Norman Nixon. His clientele list is impressive and long with each experience creating stories within stories.
Quick Rise to the Top
Always staying within his restaurant genre of fine dining, Price specializes in seafood with many of his signatures dishes such as She-Crab Soup, mango grilled halibut steamed mussels and jerk catfish on a cinnamon kabob receiving rave reviews at his former Memphis restaurant, Wendell’s World Beat Grill ™ which also began distributing a line of products.
But all of the success with celebrity clientele and restaurants and running a high-profile culinary empire was briefly put on hold for four months in 2012 when Price was arrested and brought up on charges of tax evasion by the Tennessee Department of Revenue. The celebrity chef spent time in Shelby County jail where he reflected on the past and the journey that lead up to that moment. “In a way, it was the best thing that happened to me, I was spoiled. I was always favored in any situation and that is one of the reasons I went to jail because he [the warden] said ‘You knew better but you kept living this lifestyle and spending money and not taking care of us and I realized that I was wrong,” says Price. “When I started out, I didn’t know I was going to be so successful and it jumped off with strong measures, so I didn’t think it would go there so quickly,” Price shares about rising as a top celebrity chef. His goal now is to walk with more principles and goals as he moves forward.
Power of Redemption
Today Price is cooking and taking care of clients with a different tune. Committed to making that situation right, Price is making sure what was owed is paid. He is also doing business differently and is back in full swing and on to new and exciting projects with a new restaurant opening in Miami before the end of the year and a gourmet food truck in Memphis called Eats and Beats. “I’ve been doing food trucks for about 20 years with the catering business and so all of a sudden it has gotten popular, so I said let me just brand it and put a name on it.”
Price is also finding time to give back which is something he didn’t do before. “I have a lot of favor and I don’t give it back.” He works with Camillus House in Miami which houses more than 700 men to help them get back on their feet.
With a host of successes and lessons learned over his career that spans two decades, Price’s culinary future is sure to be bigger and better. “I’ve done everything that I’ve wanted to do and I am doing everything that I want to do and to come back to do what I need to do. It is kind of cool. I haven’t missed a beat and more has come to me and so that is what I look at.”
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