After losing his job during COVID, he became a private chef and landed in the NBA bubble
Stories that Matter presents Michael Bennett, a college student who lost his job during the pandemic. He was forced to turn his hobby of cooking into a full-time job. Now, Michael is a celebrity chef that travels across the world. He hopes that his story will encourage others to put their faith in God to work everything out. Please learn more about Michael below.
I think I always loved cooking from a younger age. My dad was a great cook, but when I got to the University of Mississippi I had to start cooking for myself more. Then more of my friends would come over to eat, and it became a thing. It was just a little hobby that turned into a career.
Growing up did you want to be a chef? If not, what did you want to become and are you surprised by how things have turned out?
Growing up, I never even thought about being a chef. My goal was to become a pharmacist, so I am utterly surprised that I’m a chef. However, I was kind of forced to become a chef when I lost my job due to the pandemic.
The best advice I can give anybody is stay faithful and put your trust in God. He will work it out for you every time. When I got fired on March 31st, I didn’t know what I was going to do about bills. I didn’t really want to go back to a pharmacy, so I started applying at restaurants. However, due to COVID a lot of those restaurants started to close. I stopped worrying about it and gave it over to Him, and He worked everything out far greater than my expectations. If He can take me from being fired to becoming a Private Celebrity Chef in a matter of months, then He can elevate you from your current situation too. Don’t give up on your dreams because your gifts will make room for you. Proverbs 18:16
What are some of the places being a private chef has taken you?
I have been cooking professionally for about 6 months, and it has taken me from coast to coast. In July I went to the NBA for a few months, and now I’m in California for a few months. Before that, I was doing meal prepping, catering, and private dinners in Mississippi.
Before I received the offer to go to the bubble, I didn’t know anything about the NBA allowing chefs to come cook for players. Rewinding back to June, I did a private dinner for my cousins and decided to post it on twitter. In a matter of three days, over 2.4 million people had seen this tweet. This led to an NBA player hitting me up about cooking for him. Although that plan didn’t go quite as planned... God positioned me right where he needed me to be.
Another player’s agent reached out to me about coming to cook for him inside the bubble, which I didn’t hesitant to accept. I knew my parents wouldn’t agree with me, but I took the leap of faith anyways. When you let go and let God, He will work out everything on your behalf.
During this experience, I learned time management and how to live on my own because I was there by myself. I also fell deeper in love with the idea of being a chef. It was there, in the bubble, I realized I could do this career for life.
I wouldn’t consider myself lucky, but I would consider myself blessed for that opportunity. Because of the bubble opportunity, I’m now in LA cooking for another basketball player. The food industry is so competitive. So I was happy and amazed by the places, situations, and opportunities cooking has given me at the age of 23. If I never trusted God or took that leap of faith, then I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now.
Tell us what it takes to become a private chef, what’s your daily routine like?
Being a private chef can have many labels attached to that. As far as my personal routine, I do a lot of thinking about new menu items or recipes that I can do. During a normal week I'm off on weekends, but Sundays I send my client his menu for the full week. On a regular weekday, I wake up at 6:30 am, go to my client’s house, and cook breakfast. Then I prepare lunch and head back to my house to rest. Later I make my grocery list for the evening, go get groceries, then cook dinner, clean the kitchen, and then my day is done.
Becoming a chef is not easy - what is your advice for other chefs that are working to reach their goals?
The only advice I can give to someone right now that is starting off is: utilize social media. Social media can be your greatest friend when trying to get your services out there. When posting food, make sure your plating is good because people eat with their eyes first. So if your food looks good, you will get more people sharing your posts and wanting to try your food. This will eventually start building your portfolio when you get more clients. As far as being a chef, there’s different ways you can go from here. You can go to a restaurant, or you can take on the private sector. As far as the personal chef realm, you can start doing private dinners for your friends. If the food is good, that will get the word out.
Tell us more about your business - how can people find you and reserve your services?
For my business, when I’m available, I do private dinners, catering, and meal preps. You can check out my food on my Instagram page @amorletaste or you can send an inquiry to my business email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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