A Black Chef At An All-White Club Who 'Never Looked Back' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

A Black Chef At An All-White Club Who 'Never Looked Back'

Play associated audio

Clayton Sherrod was just 19 in 1964, when he became the executive chef at an all-white club in Birmingham, Ala. Sherrod, who is African-American, had started working in the kitchen there when he was 13, after his father had a heart attack.

"My mother said, 'You can't go back to school. You're going to have to find a job.' So I went to the country club."

Sherrod's friends thought he was crazy when he decided he would become a chef, he recalls during a visit to StoryCorps. "But I saw something that no one else could see, and that is me walking around with that big tall hat on.

"So I counted how many positions it was from washing dishes to the executive chef, and I had my chart pinned to the wall in our little outdoor bathroom there, and I would mark every time I got a promotion," Sherrod says. "And then I would turn the light off, and I would dance."

It took six years for Sherrod to work his way up to sous-chef. And Sherrod admits he had to be a little sneaky to land that executive chef job. But in the end, the club's general manager turned to him and asked him to take care of the kitchen "until we find another chef."

"That's all I needed," says Sherrod, who ran the kitchen for the next 13 years. "I never even looked back."

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Yasmina Guerda.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Why Afghanistan's 'Underground Girls' Skirt Tradition To Live As Boys

In a new book, journalist Jenny Nordberg writes about the bacha posh, young girls who dress up like boys to enjoy the freedoms of being an Afghan male for as long as they can.
NPR

Keeping Heirloom Apples Alive Is 'Like A Chain Letter' Over Many Centuries

Scott Farm in Vermont grows 100 apple varieties, some of them dating back to the 1700s. These apples may not look as pretty as the Red Delicious, but what they lack in looks they make up for in taste.
WAMU 88.5

New Anthony Brown Video Accuses Opponent Of 'Hiding' And 'Lying"

Democrat Anthony Brown unveiled a new web video today alleging that Republican Larry Hogan is "hiding" his positions on contentious issues like abortion and gun control.
NPR

Tech Week: Smartphone Privacy, Cyberstalking, Alibaba's Big Debut

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba makes the biggest debut on the NYSE ever. The details, and the other tech stories that piqued our interest, are in this week's roundup.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.