Livingstone culinary graduate makes first TV appearance
SALISBURY – If it wasn’t for the white chef jacket, his skills in the kitchen would be unassuming.
Jordan Walker portrayed a typical student while at Livingstone College, one who shared the same highs and woes of such. But when he spoke culinary, his distinction and passion for food spilled out like a poached egg.
The December 2019 graduate earned his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and his associate’s degree in culinary arts from the Livingstone College School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts. He was a member of the second class of the college’s culinary arts program, which began in 2012 in the former Holiday Inn at 530 Jake Alexander Blvd. South.
Walker made his TV debut as a guest chef on Charlotte’s WBTV On Your Side, where he dished up a shrimp coconut rice bowl. In a Facebook post, he wrote that since he was a little boy, he always dreamed of being on television, where thousands, if not millions of people, could see him.
He said the opportunity came through his employer, Divine Appetit of Concord, where he is sous-chef. The TV suffered a setback when the stove was not working, but he brought a cooked version of his entrée with him to the studio. He has also landed some catering jobs from the exposure.
“I couldn’t have done it without Livingstone,” Walker said.
During his senior year at Livingstone College he prepared meals whether for a private event or public gathering. His Instagram posts are littered with culinary creations from peach herb fried chicken and vegan chili to lasagna stuffed shells and double chocolate Oreo cupcakes. He was an active member of the American Culinary Federation and served as the liaison between Livingstone and the ACF.
Last summer he was selected to be a celebrity chef for an event sponsored by Live Free Magazine of Greensboro after another chef canceled. Someone recommended Walker due to this social media popularity.
He literally had less than 24 hours to prepare, getting the invitation on June 7 with the event being the next day. He had to quickly assemble a menu with precise instructions on what ingredients to use, which had to be North Carolina-based products.
“I had no earthly idea what I was going to cook,” Walker said. “I met with them at 3 o’clock on a Friday and had to start preparing the meal at 4 o’clock the next day.”
Walker decided on a backyard picnic theme and was accompanied by a cameraman as he went grocery shopping.
By dinnertime on that Saturday, Walker had prepared a meal for 30 people at the African-American Self House in Cherryville, demonstrating his cooking skills to onlookers.
His four-course menu included mixed chilled honey berry soup with corn ricotta cheese, a garden salad with oregano and kale blend with bacon-fig vinaigrette, honey barbecue chili chicken and waffle cornbread with chardonnay fried green beans and mashed sweet potatoes, and peanut butter honey coconut truffles with chocolate drizzle.
“The experience was good,” Walker said. “I really loved it. It made me feel like a real bona fide chef.”
Becoming a chef wasn’t on Walker’s mind when he enrolled at Livingstone College. He intended to major in criminal justice and theater arts, but Vivian Ray, the first director of the Culinary Arts School, convinced him to change his major.
Since working in culinary arts, his life has shifted momentum and afforded him opportunities to touch the lives of others. He has volunteered at Washington Elementary School in Shelby, where he went as a child, assisting with the school’s garden club and nutrition program. Walker credits his home life for instilling in him a love for cooking.
“I grew up around a family that loved to cook,” Walker said. “From a young age, I thought culinary arts was the international language of all human beings because everyone eats. Food brings us together and is a reason to travel.”