My name is Syrena Johnson. I am 24 years old, and grew up in Uptown New Orleans. I was fifteen and living on Delachaise Street when Katrina hit. Unfortunately, my family and I stayed at home through the whole ordeal– the water had to have reached over seven feet! Me, my mom, stepdad and our downstairs neighbor, who had to come up by us because he was completely flooded out, stayed on our upstairs screened-in porch (because it was so hot) for six to seven days until we were fortunate enough to get rescued by the U.S National Guard. Surprisingly, they only had room for me and my mom, so we were displaced and separated from my stepdad in the middle of a horrible situation. Thanks to the internet, my stepdad was able to locate us in Corpus Christi, Texas. We relocated to Houston for a year and later returned to New Orleans for good.
After several jobs at fast food restaurants, I started working at Liberty’s Kitchen. In 2011, I was named the very first recipient of the Chefs Move! Scholarship. In New York, I worked very hard at the International Culinary Center, working with Chef Jonathon Benno of Lincoln Restaurant and Chef Floyd Cordoz of Northend Grill, in addition to keeping up with my school work. Following my graduation in August of 2012, I began my internship with the Besh Restaurant Group. I currently work at the Lowes Hotel Cafe Adelaide. I aspire to be a chef one day and this is a great opportunity to build my house from the ground up while I’m still young.