Who to Know: Jordan Fessehaie, a 15-year-old Phenom

About a month ago, I received this e-mail from a young teen and aspiring chef:

Congratulations on your book! I already asked my mom to get it for me when it comes out later this month. I am 15 years old and, as my business card states, a Future Executive Chef. I am African and African-American and I hope to embrace my African culture more and more through food. I have mentored with Chef Janine Falvo at Briza Restaurant at the Marriott Renaissance Atlanta since last year. I have such BIG goals. I live a life of service and plan to perform service on every continent before I graduate from high school in 2014, prayerfully as a Gates Millennium Scholar. I leave for Australia next week and plan to volunteer in Africa next summer, maybe even with Chefs for Humanity.

2012 is Girl Scouts 100th Anniversary and is also The Year of the Girl. My Girl Scout Gold Award project addresses diversity education through culinary creation. If you could take a moment to support Girl Scouts by giving me your opinion of my project idea (I can share with you) or just personally signing my book it would mean so much. Your life story inspires me. Please keep me in your mind and heart if you ever endeavor to reach out to or work with teens. I have so many ideas and would love to work with you on just once. (Can you imagine a Food Network special, sponsored by Girl Scouts, that addresses bullying through cooking? Amazing!!)

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Jordan Fessehaie

I knew I had to reach out to Jordan when I was in Atlanta, and I was able to meet this precocious young girl when I was there earlier this week. When people ask me what advice I would give to aspiring chefs, I always say, "Love your craft, work hard, and find a chef mentor." But what some might forget is how much we can learn from the young people coming up in our world today. Jordan is going to start blogging for MarcusSamuelsson.com and share her journey with you. Here's a look at the meeting we had today at City Hall in Atlanta.

Today I spent the morning with Chef Marcus Samuelsson on his visit to Atlanta. He started the day at City Hall, sharing his life lessons and banana avocado smoothies with teens who were chosen for the summer youth jobs program. He spent as much time finding out about their goals as he did sharing his story. He talked about the value of education and how hard we should work at achieving our dreams. Later he was the guest of honor for City of Atlanta Hooked-On-Books where he spoke, shared his delicious lentils and rice, and signed copies of his memoir for the group. The event ended as he was presented with a Proclamation from the mayor’s office. I was honored to spend a few moments with Chef Samuelsson after I contacted him about my Girl Scout Gold Award project.

My project addresses diversity education through culinary creation and I knew hearing the stories of Yes, Chef would inspire me to work even harder. After meeting Chef I am even more excited about pursuing a degree in hospitality administration and devoting myself to my goal of becoming an executive chef. Chef Samuelsson is an amazing example of where a dream and hard work can take you!