ORLANDO, Fla. — Chef Ju’von is a Central Florida business man who turned his love for cooking into a full-blown business during the coronavirus pandemic.
The chef says his story started in a hospital in New York.
“I was walking around with kidney failure and didn’t even know it.”
The kidney failure was a side effect from a prescribed migraine medication, leading to five years on dialysis, and eventually, a successful kidney transplant.
“So that is what pulled me into the medical field.”
Ju’von went on to work as a nurse technician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, but always had his eye on becoming a chef.
“I still like the smell of onions and garlic caramelizing,” Ju’von says. “The sound of the pan when you throw, the sizzling, you know, that’s what really sparked my interest.”
It was just a couple of yeas ago when Ju’von moved to Orlando and got a job at the Grand Behemian Hotel as a line cook.
“I learned how to plate. I learned how to make sauces and dishes. I leaned how to work with other chefs and cooks, and it was a whole experience,” Ju’von says.
It was an experience that was abruptly interrupted last March by the coroanvirus pandemic.
“They laid everybody off, and I’m normal like everybody else. I’m scared. How am I going to pay my rent?”
Chef Ju’von quickly pivoted, turning a side hustle of catering and preparing meals for friends and family into a full-blown business as a personal chef.
“I was fortunate enough to even hire people that were laid off with me,” Ju’von says. “Cooks, servers, so now I’m obtaining the service. I’m getting people employment. I’m getting people work to get them to do what they love to do, and that was the best part about it.”
Chef Ju’von now has 22 contracted employees for his personal chef service.
One of the highlights of the last year, Ju’von says, was when he was invited to cook for teams in the NBA bubble, including the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.
16 years ago, Chef Ju’von nearly died. Now he’s cooking for the best athletes in the world, and feeding and entertaining families across Central Florida.
“I’m living my dream now.”
Cox Media Group