'Hell's Kitchen' fan favorite teaches kids power of cooking in Clarksville camp | ClarksvilleNow.com

2022-08-13 18:17:08 By : Mr. Kent Wong

CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Julian Johnson spent this past week learning about cooking.

The 8th grader at West Creek Middle School plans to be a businessman, but he loves to cook. “My mom approached me and asked me if I wanted to participate in this cooking class,” Julian said. “I sure do,” he said he told her.

Before this class, Julian was learning how to cook the perfect omelet. But he’s now expanded his menu. “My favorite dish we learned to cook this week was salmon,” he said.

Julian’s new salmon skills came thanks to summer camp program called “Cooking the Wright Way,” courtesy of “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant Sterling Wright.

Wright, who is from Nashville, is the nephew of Clarksville’s Sharon Kaye Edwards, organizer of the I Am Invisible Bullying Suicide program.

Wright said the camp is designed to provide children an outlet for anger, give them an opportunity to serve their families and communities, and teach them to “cook with love.” From the left, Brandon Williams, Taelynn Jemison, and Sharon Kaye Edwards. Taelynn received her apron as part of the graduation ceremony held at Emmanuel Life Center. The cooking class was created by Sterling Wright and longtime friend Brandon Williams. (Adria Hyde) I Am Invisible

Edwards said she began the nonprofit in 2018.

She said her brother died when she was young, and it had a major impact. “The pain I felt of losing him – everyone listened to the adults, but they forgot about my pain.” Adding to the pain, she was bullied when she was a child. As she struggled to cope with her feelings, she was hospitalized a few times.

This experience drove her to develop a team of people to help children deal with their own pain. “We try to help empower the kids so they know there is nothing they can’t do,” she said.

Cooking the Wright Way was designed to give children another outlet for their anger.

“There are lots of ways children can handle their anger – it could be art, music, reading, or even cooking,” she said. Sharon Kaye Edwards takes time out to comfort a child who was having a tough time Friday morning. “I had a meltdown, too, this morning when I thought I lost my phone,” she said, giving the child a hug. (Adria Hyde) Cooking the Wright Way

Wright said he was thrown into cooking when he was young. “Dad came home from work one day and said, ‘Son, you better learn to cook because the women aren’t cooking anymore,'” he said.

That training born of necessity led to a life of cooking, and eventually to the Hell’s Kitchen cooking competition TV show featuring Gordon Ramsey.

Wright said he didn’t sign up for Hell’s Kitchen, where he was a contestant during Season 13, airing in 2014. “Someone signed me up for it. I didn’t know I was going to be fan favorite,” he said, noting his cooking has taken him places he never expected, such as cooking for P. Diddy.

A few years later, he was working with his friend Brandon Williams at a hotel in Nashville.

“My brother Brandon was having a tough time. I said, ‘Well, let’s just quit.’ So we quit, that day. Just walked out, no money, no plan, no nothing,” Wright said.

Wright has always found relief in the kitchen. “No one can bother me when I’m cooking. I’m using my pain (to help someone else),” he said.

Wright and Williams developed Cooking the Wright Way, developing their own curriculum to offer that same stress outlet to youth.

“The whole point is to get kids learning to create,” Williams said.

Wright has carried over some traditions from Hell’s Kitchen into the program, such as presenting an apron during graduation.

The first class was held at Amy Grant’s ranch near Nashville. “She wanted us to have graduation at her place for our first culinary program,” Williams said. From the left, Sterling Wright, Robin Little, and Brandon Williams take a minute to explain the graduation ceremony and how students all received an apron commemorating completion of the class. (Adria Hyde) Expanding the team

Chef Robin Little of Clarksville and her son Brandon Little were part of the team last week, with sessions held at Emmanuel Life Center, at 303 Fairview Lane.

“We all four have different personalities,” she said with a laugh.

“This team has just gotten started,” said Williams. “You ask if we are going to have more classes in Clarksville, I say we are going to have 100 more classes in Clarksville, Nashville, Murfreesboro, and surrounding areas to better the community and the state.

“We want this to catch wind with certain commissioners and politicians. We have been here five days, and we have had seeds planted, watered and nurtured them,” Williams said. Lessons learned

So far, it seems to be paying off, at least for Julian.

“I also tried to learn how to make a puree,” Julian said. Williams said Julian used some fresh green beans donated to the class from a local farmer.

Julian graduated last week with several other students, who each received their own apron. They included Ashanna Baxter, Alissa Carter, Avrianna Hughes, Donavan Irby, Taelyn Jemison, Julian Johnson, Malaisha Johnson, Nehemiah Wilcox, Mateo Lugo, Emmirra Oliver, Kinley Weber, Charles Williams Ke’Ann Wysinger, Bry’Dunn Wysinger, Sha’Niayha Wysinger, Magnolia Bracey and Milan McCormick.

For more information, go to the I Am Invisible Bullying Suicide website.

Adria Hyde is a reporter for Clarksville Now. She can be reached at (931)-648-7720 ext. 547. or AHyde@clarksvillenow.com.