Chef Jackson Hodges with WAVE 3 News Anchor Dawne Gee
As Chef and Head Instructor of the Salvation Army's Culinary Arts Program, Jackson Hodges loves the challenge and the finished product he gets when he's in the kitchen.
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - WAVE
3 News and NBC are celebrating the spirit of the Olympic Games and its
athletes. The games are a tribute to the greatness of the human spirit, but you
don't have to wait every four years for the Olympics before you see a stunning
display of triumph over adversity. There is an Olympic creed. It
reads, "The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win but to take
part. Just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the
struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought
Jackson Hodges loves the spirit of the Olympic Games and he loves life. He
loves his life.
all foods," Hodges said with a hearty laugh.
Food is the most
important thing in Hodges life right now. As Chef and Head Instructor of
the Salvation Army's Culinary Arts Program, Jackson Hodges loves the challenge
and the finished product he gets when he's in the kitchen.
smiling again he proclaimed, "I could always cook. It's just a lot of
things I didn't know the names of techniques but to me it was like a whole
world had opened up."
part of the Salvation Army's culinary arts program as a client. One world
opened up as another closed.
"I was an
addict! My drug of choice was cocaine," Hodges explained.
nicknamed the caviar of street drugs. It is a high priced way of getting
smoking marijuana at the age of nine," Hodges said without skipping a beat.
"One day a friend of mine said look what I got. We all tried it. Some
of us didn't mess with it anymore. Some of us kept on messing with it," he
said shaking his head.
Out of that
group of experimental drug users, he continued to use. Cocaine was Jackson's
drug of choice for 10 years. It played a major role in the choices he
made. For 10 years he was homeless and estranged from his family.
with a firm tone, "At first it's fun but then it becomes a job. Every day
you wake up you're thinking about getting high. When you're going to bed
you're thinking about that next hit."
that's your job until you hit rock bottom. For Hodges he hit it with a
realistic thud after seeing another addict he himself had judged years ago.
"I said I'll
never be like that guy and one dang gone one day I was that guy," he said almost
still in disbelief. He said almost as if he were teaching a lesson, "When
you look down on somebody who has a problem and you don't know about it, you've
got these misconceptions about it. You yourself can end up in his shoes"
Hodges is not
alone. Kentucky exceeds the national average of drug induced deaths
according to the Salvation Army.
to everyone ,"Addiction don't care how much money you got, what side of the
tracks you was raised on, how big your house is. Addiction doesn't care."
Hodges did find
people who cared.
Now out of his
cocaine fog he can say, "My family would have helped me, had my back, whatever.
I wanted the drug."
He returned to
his family and for the first time entered a treatment program through the VA
for vets. VA for vets help veterans and transition military service member
build a successful life by providing whatever assistance or tools they need to
form that life.
"Once I started
getting clean, doors opened for me", Hodges said as if he were exhaling and
breathing in new life itself.
One door that
opened was to the Salvation Army's Culinary Arts Training Program. It's a
free, intensive 10 week course that teaches basic culinary skills needed to
find an entry level position in the food and hospitality industry. Hodges took
the class and has now taken over the class.
Hodges took the
class and has now taken over.
hearty laugh he explained, "Well now I teach the program. I teach the culinary
training program. Anybody can do this. I'm not special. Anybody can
do this. Anybody can get clean. Anybody can get their lives back on
track if that's what they really, really want to do. Every now and then I say
wow, wow. Look where I've come from and look where I am. I am these people that
come to this class. I was them. I still am them. I'm just in a
better place today."
Army's Culinary Program works hard each day with Jackson Hodges leading the
way. The city is invited to Chefs For Hope, a gala featuring a six course meal
and very excited students in the culinary program, along with six well known
local chefs at their side. Those chefs are Dean Corbett of Corbett's and
Jacks, Gregory Hyde of The Village Anchor, Dallas McGarity of The Marketplace, Josh
Hilyard of Big Spring Country Club, Daniel Stage of Louisville Country Club and
Shawn Ward of Jack Fry's.
The dinner will
be February 22 at the Big Spring Country Club. The multi course dinner begins
at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are
limited. To support Kentucky's next top chefs call (502) 400-3739.
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