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This Camden chef wants to author a cookbook for people in prison

Chef Terrick Hubbard poses for a picture at a kitchen in Camden on Monday, March 9, 2020. (Miguel Martinez for WHYY)

Chef Terrick Hubbard poses for a picture at a kitchen in Camden on Monday, March 9, 2020. (Miguel Martinez for WHYY)

This story is part of a new WHYY series: “In a Dream,” which details the hopes and aspirations of individuals from Camden, New Jersey. 

Terrick Hubbard spent much of his early childhood in the Whitman Park neighborhood of Camden. Rather than throwing a football around with his friends, the youngest of nine siblings preferred to spend hours watching his mother, Blanche Rose, in the kitchen.

Hubbard’s choice to stay inside the home and study the matriarch’s handling of poultry confounded his friends. They teased him, suggesting that his fascination with cooking was “weird.” But Hubbard, determined to one day fry chicken like his mother, disregarded their taunts.

That studying paid off.

Today, Hubbard owns a catering company. He can fry, sear, saute and experiment with molecular gastronomy, a subdiscipline of food science.

“You can use calcium and sodium to make droplets of flavors that look like caviar,” Hubbard explained.

Unfortunately, Blanche Rose didn’t live to see this. She died when Hubbard was eight years old.

“My older sister, Lavonne, tells me that Mommy would be proud.”

Lavonne, 54, told WHYY that her kid brother slept in his mom’s bed until he was seven years old. As a self-identified mama’s boy, it means a lot to Hubbard to think that his mother would be proud of his culinary accomplishments. She is, after all, his inspiration.

But ‘Delicious Delight in Every Bite,’ the catering company Hubbard founded in 2018, is just the beginning of his journey.

This Camden chef has even bigger dreams.

Chef Terrick Hubbard cooks at a kitchen in Camden on Monday, March 9, 2020. (Miguel Martinez for WHYY)

Hubbard dreams of one day seeing the name ‘Chef Terrick’ printed on a cookbook. But not just any cookbook.

The 39-year-old wants to author a how-to guide for making avant-garde meals from a prison commissary. The target audience, of course, would be incarcerated people. Hubbard himself spent three years in prison after he was convicted for a gun possession charge in 2009. While incarcerated, he landed a job cooking for the correctional officers and other prison officials.

“They loved my food,” he boasted.

Food is a theme that repeats in every chapter of Hubbard’s life.

Prior to serving his sentence, he went through The Cathedral Kitchen’s culinary arts training program. He graduated from the program in 2007.

Hubbard credits The Cathedral Kitchen as providing the “turning point” in his culinary career. The formal instruction provided him the credibility and connections he needed to make a name for himself as a chef.

Another major influence on Hubbard’s life is Charles Nichols, a 34-year-old executive chef. They bonded over their affinity for tattoos when they first started working together at a since-closed Camden restaurant. Over time, a mutual respect developed.

“Terrick was always eager to learn new things,” said Chef Nichols of his former colleague. “He never wanted to take time off to do anything. He was always thinking about doing things differently. You can’t teach those things, and those things get you far in this business.”

Chef Terrick Hubbard cooks at a kitchen in Camden on Monday, March 9, 2020. (Miguel Martinez for WHYY)

Hubbard dreams of someday having his own food empire, and is working diligently on building from a catering company to a cookbook to a fleet of food trucks.

The first food truck will be parked outside Camden’s Cooper Hospital, Hubbard’s current place of employment.

This dream is no secret to Hubbard’s co-workers.

“I tell everyone at work that one day I’m going to have my food truck parked outside the cafeteria. The support I’ve received is overwhelming.”

Hubbard desires six food trucks in all: the one stationed in downtown Camden, another in Whitman Park, where his love of cooking was born, and the remaining four spread out across the Garden State.

By accomplishing these dreams, Hubbard hopes his daughters will one day brag to their friends, “My dad built something cool!”

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