Jeremiah Josey loves cooking and this 19-year-old aspiring chef and published author is already making a name for himself in the culinary world. What makes his story even more extraordinary is that Josey is autistic. Just about ready to graduate from high school, Josey has already worked next to some of the industry’s finest chefs such as Chef Kwame, who has appeared on Top Chef of Bravo TV. People have been following Josey’s journey on his YouTube channel, “Jeremiah’s Cooking Adventures.”
Maryland-based Josey is a pastry chef and published author of “Here’s What I Want You To Know” whose goal is to become a top-tier, international pastry chef. And he told TNJ.com how he plans on doing this.
TNJ.com: How did you get into cooking?
Jeremiah Josey: I started out making desserts with my grandma. She taught me how to make pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie and then how to make cheesecake. She also taught me how to make an egg in a blanket and you can see a video of us on my YouTube channel.
TNJ.com: When did you decide you wanted to make a career of it?
Jeremiah Josey: In my junior year, my counselor asked me to start thinking about my career. I knew that I wanted to either work with animals or be a pastry chef. Unfortunately, I suffer from allergies so working with animals was out! Although I plan to have a dog someday! My mom told me she thought it would be a good idea to host Jeremiah’s Cooking Adventures. This allowed me to work with a lot of chefs.
TNJ.com: What chefs do you admire?
Jeremiah Josey: I appreciate all the chefs that I have ever worked with but Chef Kwame Onwuachi is who I admire most because he took a chance on me. I have autism and the fact that he allowed me to do a cooking adventure with him and invite me back during school breaks and work different special events proved that he believed in me.
Chef Kwame used to have his own restaurant called the Shaw Bijou and is now the Executive Chef at Kith and Kin, in Washington, DC.
TNJ.com: How have you been able to overcome some of the challenges of getting into the industry?
Jeremiah Josey: Unfortunately, I am still facing challenges getting into the industry. My mom recently found out that some culinary schools want you to test to get in. I am afraid that the testing might not be designed for someone like me.
My mom and I talked about my continuing with the cooking adventures and, hopefully, with the right exposure a chef might decide to offer me an apprenticeship. I remember Chef Chris Scott, who owns Butterfunk Kitchen, also told me that not every chef goes to culinary school.
TNJ.com: Tell us how your involvement with the Tommy Adaptive (made for people with disabilities) campaign came about.
Jeremiah Josey: I told my mom that I wanted to do some modeling. My mom also told me about the Tommy Adaptive line. I love the clothes because in lieu of buttons they have these neat magnetic strips to close your shirts and pants.
My godbrother works at the Tommy Hilfiger flagship store in NYC and suggested that my mom send an email to see if the store would consider styling me for an event. They sent me the clothes and I did the event and then took photos at the Brooklyn Bridge. My mom sent the pictures, and then I was contacted to do the photo shoot. I had an amazing time and the people were wonderful to me!
TNJ.com: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Jeremiah Josey: In five years, I see myself opening my own pastry shop and selling my Jeremiah Cooking Adventure merchandise.
TNJ.com: What do you want to tell other young people who may want to enter the cooking space?
Jeremiah Josey: I would like to tell young people never to give up on your dreams. If you have a disability, never give up because you can succeed as long as you believe in yourself and surround yourself around people who love and care about you.