Top Chef To Speak at Annual Mentor Tech Banquet

Jeff Henderson, award-winning chef and New York Times best-selling author will be the keynote speaker at the Sixth Annual Texas Tech University Mentor Tech scholarship banquet at 7 p.m. April 25 in the Lubbock Civic Center Banquet Hall.

Jeff Henderson, award-winning chef and New York Times best-selling author will be the keynote speaker at the Sixth Annual Texas Tech University Mentor Tech scholarship banquet at 7 p.m. April 25 in the Lubbock Civic Center Banquet Hall.

Henderson, who in 2001 became the first African American Chef de Cuisine at Caesars Palace, told his story of redemption and finding his passion for cooking while in prison in his memoir "Cooked" which was published in 2007. His life story is now the subject of a motion picture produced by the team that made "The Pursuit of Happyness."

Henderson went to prison in 1988 for drug trafficking. While there he learned to cook. A newspaper article about black chefs prompted him to consider that career field when he was released from prison. Today he is the executive chef at the Café Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Mentor Tech enhances the educational experience of students from underrepresented populations by teaming each student with a faculty or staff mentor.

"Mentor Tech provides a support group that is in line with our students’ academic, social and cultural needs," said Cory Powell, associate director of Mentor Tech. "We hope by giving these students support when they first come on campus that we can help them stay in school and graduate."

To qualify for the program, a student must be a freshman, first-year transfer or first-year graduate student at Texas Tech. The students must commit to be part of the program for one year, but may continue beyond that point.

Mentor Tech’s formal name is the Lauro Cavazos and Ophelia Powell-Malone Mentoring Program. Cavazos was the first Texas Tech graduate to serve as the university’s president and Powell-Malone was the first African American undergraduate to enroll at Texas Tech.

The program began in 2002 with 45 students and more than 100 mentors from the university faculty and staff. Mentor Tech has grown to more than 400 participants today.

Tickets are $40 per person. Tables of eight can be purchased for $400. Tables at the $600 include passes to a VIP reception with Henderson. Proceeds benefit the Mentor Tech scholarship fund. For tickets or more information, contact Powell at (806) 742-8692 or cory.powell@ttu.edu.

More information on Henderson can be found at www.chefjeffcooked.com. 

[Editor’s Note: Jeff Henderson is available for interviews prior to and during his visit to Texas Tech. To set up an interview, please contact Cory Powell at (806) 742-8692]