In prison, chef Sharon Richardson found something worth experiencing
A powerful memory set the wheels in motion for all that was to follow. âI was thinking when I was incarcerated and my mother was dying, they took me in shackles and handcuffs to say goodbye to my mother on her deathbed. I lived on the main floor which had certain privileges; the officer allowed the women to cook and make food. But I think I’ll come back, cry in my pillow and turn off the lights. But when I walked in my friends picked me up and they had quite a display. And what made us do it? Tell a story. I told them about my mom, how she left this world, we cried, we ate, then we cried again, then we ate some more. Before we knew it, it was late. And it was a while.
âThat’s when I tell people that food is so important, people are so important. And why we need our own cooking, stories that come from other women. All of our stories don’t. are not pretty stories, and they aren’t meant to be. These are inspirational stories of what we’ve overcome. And now we need a job. A place we won’t be judged to return in this New York city that we love. So let’s go, a restaurant business, soul food, connect it to justice, hiring women in jail, not just food – we have to tell stories ! “
Richardson has been at the house for 11 years now and calls Reentry Rocks and Just Soul Catering his “babies”. But they have a lot to do to grow, and his dreams for them inspire him to keep pushing, growing, fighting.
âThey are both entities involved in justice. They work together. With Reentry Rocks, we have clients that we bring into our paid internship program a few times a year. But the women who graduated from our internship program, they’re kind of, like, on hold. “
She wants to do more, to help more, but she needs the resources. âI rent an office, I rent a kitchen to handle these things. What I aspire to do is find my own space, help the former incarcerated people make a living. You have these big dreams and these big ones. ideas and you are creating them, but you can only do it if you have the funding to make it happen.But whether the money comes or not, we will always have our mission to help formerly incarcerated women (to return) to they.
“Once you realize that you have a purpose in life, I hope you can go on and live it and then we die, don’t we? And we leave a legacy behind us, people who have fallen. lovers of us, were inspired by us or touched by who we are, or we leave behind bitterness and people who resent our relationships. “
These days, Richardson is surrounded by love and, of course, great food.
âJust Soul Catering is soul food, touching the hearts of New Yorkers, feeding those who never sleep and love to eat,â she said. âI was raised in a West Indian family and I lived in a neighborhood where there were southerners all around me, jerk chicken, a bit of the Caribbean too, macaroni and cheese, turkey wings. , don’t forget the banana pudding. My grandmother was still in the kitchen. “
When asked if this was where she learned to cook, she replied, âRecipes come from within. no complaint for six years. We cook fried chicken, collard greens, traditional mac and cheese, sit down and have meetings to discuss what we should add or take away. “