Paying it forward - J'can celebrity chef calls on volunteers to take part in motivational tour
Celebrity chef Wenford Simpson is calling on influential volunteers to join him on his mission to inspire young minds in Jamaica through his annual Motivation and Career Tour.
For the past two years, the Jamaica-born chef, popularly known as Chef Patrick from his TV show Cook Up With Chef Patrick, has been travelling from his New York home to touch the hearts and minds of youngsters on the island with his remarkable story of poverty to prosperity.
He has visited some eight schools over the two-year period, including his alma mater, Marcus Garvey High School. But now, he plans to make it bigger by launching an official weeklong annual tour which will include his celebrity colleagues.
"Recently, I was with Spragga Benz, Barrington Levy, Konshens and others. We were all sitting down talking at the Jerk Festival in Queens, and they said, 'Patrick, whenever you're ready, just let us know'," Simpson shared, adding that he also plans to call on other colleagues, such as Jamie Foxx, 50 Cent, and Angie Stone.
"Anyone who wants to pay it forward and give back to the schools and the country and be a mentor can get in touch with me to be a part," he added.
Simpson, who is the corporate executive chef of the BB King chain of restaurants, and owns a line of herbs and spices called Simpson's Food, said the idea of launching an official motivational tour was sparked in 2016 when he revisited his alma mater to deliver a speech in his old classroom.
"The kids reminded me of myself. I could see on their faces the yearning for direction, the yearning for guidance. When they heard my story and realised I'm coming from poverty and I can stand in their classroom and show them that they can overcome, just seeing the way in which they absorbed the message, the feeling was priceless," Simpson said.
Simpson plans to organise the first official tour with volunteers on board between March and June 2018.
"I want people to see this and realise they need to do this, give back and pay it forward, and talk to these kids and mentor them. I want it to get bigger, so people can set down their names to be a part of it, then we can branch out into different areas," Simpson said.
In addition to his tours, Simpson is also working on opening a culinary school in Ocho Rios, St Ann, where youngsters will be able to enrol at a minimal cost to pursue their studies and then get assistance with job placements. So far, he has acquired the school building, and is coming to Jamaica in September to finalise plans.
Those who are interested in being a part of Simpson's Motivation and Career Tours can contact him via his Instagram page, @chefwsimpson.