On the morning of his parent’s anniversary, 8-year-old Tim Johnson cooked his first meal full of love, overcooked scrambled eggs and “Cajun” styled raisin bagels. Fast forward to 8th grade, Tim realized he wanted to cook for a living, and food eventually became his “saving grace.”
“I was bullied for a speech impediment and for not having the newest clothing,” said Johnson who grew up blocks away from Cabrini Green Housing Projects and in the Wild 100’s. “I was jumped and humiliated on a constant basis until the age of 15, to the breaking point of a suicide attempt. Food became my place of peace and gave me a way into a better mental state.”
With a better understanding of life he focused on food and in the following years went full force into fulfilling his passion. He received a Culinary degree from Robert Morris University, where he learned much about what cooking really means to him.
“Cooking is a spiritual experience that translates life into flavors and moments. When you taste my food, you taste my history, my tragedies, my constant triumphs and my big heart.”
The full love he has brought to the table and his hard work has afforded him many opportunities throughout life.
“I have worked my way up from prep cook/dishwasher, up to my last position of Executive Sous Chef at the Hilton,” said Johnson. “I have been on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games “Culinary Saved My Life Part 2” (Original air date 11/26/2016), and I was nominated consecutive years for a James Beard Foundation Rising Chef Award.”
Even with a full plate on his hands, he still uses his knowledge and experiences to teach others how food is created and about food sustainability.
“Food has celestial purpose in which we nurture from the seed/birth, to the final show in which we consume and give thanks for the righteous mind who cares not only about flavor but also about the way food reacts to your system and palate,” said Johnson. “Food has a spirit and affects our spirit and our mind. It is the catalyst to which we determine our energy, health and vitality.”
And while Chef Tim has gone full circle with culinary – from learning how to cook, now teaching others – he says there’s still much more to accomplish.
“One of my biggest dreams is to go on Sesame Street and do a segment on healthy eating and loving ourselves just as we are.”
Chef Tim is currently working on launching a few companies which include: Garry Johnson Food and Beverage Company (Beer and Food), Chef Tim’s Chef Coat Company, CTJ Films and Restaurant and Brand Consultation.
(Photo Credit: CTJ Films and AJ Arts and Photography)