Chef Christian Green was born in Many, Louisiana. Sabine Parish is known for small school basketball. The insulated vacuum of North Louisiana hog pens, tucked-away barns, and clayish dirt roads literate with angeled rims has been profiled in the New York Times on several occasions going back to the 1950s. Many of the greatest high school scorers of all time come from one of the most sparsely populated parishes (counties in the other 49 states) in the country, helped by the fact the area teams used to play up to 70 games against each other.
Still Green had to point out during a recent conversation between North Louisianians (I attended Sabine’s Pleasant Hill High before moving to nearby Natchitoches Central), “You see. We don’t get a lot of recognition like we are supposed to. It is a blessing for me to be on this platform that I am in representing where I’m from.”
Green, currently competing on Fox’s MasterChef: Back To Win airing on Wednesday at 7 PM CST, is getting his recognition these days. His mother and stepfather eventually moved the family to Boston but the aspiring cook moved back to New Orleans to attend Dillard University shortly after finishing high school. Now he is the chef for Marcus Davenport (Saints) and Zion Williamson (Pelicans) and is vying for the coveted culinary title of the hit show.
“To be where I’m at, honestly, you know, I’ve been knocked down plenty of times. Everybody has had trial and error in their life and I was one of those guys. I needed to be consistent in not putting negative thoughts in my head. Knowing this is what you are meant to be doing. This is your purpose. Even though I didn’t go to the NFL or the NBA, I really see myself in these athletes. I see myself in Zion, I see myself in Davenport. For me to be in this position getting these guys where they need to be, even though I didn’t make it (as a pro athlete), it feels like I’m still I’m playing professional sports right now being around those guys and making sure that we hit their goals.”
He hit his goal of getting the coveted Chef Apron with a bourbon-glazed salmon dish with creamy mashed potatoes and white wine spinach. Green won the MasterChef pin on last week’s Fox broadcast. Still pressing on the Crescent City chef is “staying focused, putting God first, and studying. Trying to understand the goals and keep things consistent. Success is just not going to come overnight. You really have to put in the work. I remember those long nights when I was in the kitchen cooking, practicing my craft. I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong. They don’t want to put in work. What motivates me is just putting in that work, making sure that my son is proud.”
The Season Five MasterChef veteran does not take the responsibility of the platform “lightly. You know, it’s a blessing, you know, it’s a blessing for me to be in the position that I’m in. To get invited back to MasterChef: Back To Win, to represent Louisiana the way I have been doing, is truly, truly a blessing. I’m forever grateful because they could have brought back anybody, just like my clients. My clients could have got any chef so for them to reach out to me and for me to be a part of this journey is truly a blessing.”
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The love of the kitchen and lessons to appreciate life’s blessings carried on through those early college years. It goes back to Green’s grandmother who “used to get in the kitchen and prepare okra and tomatoes. Collard greens and hot water cornbread, black-eyed peas. Comforting food like that is what really got me going in the kitchen. My grandmother had a garden when he was growing up. So we used to go pick crops and once we pick the crops, we’d go in there. We’d get into it, we’d start cooking.”
Though the sports loyalties were baked in Boston, going through Hurricane Katrina created another fan of the New Orleans teams.
“Growing up, I was a big Tom Brady fan. Big Tom Brady fan. I was a big Patriots fan. Seeing him get his start when Drew Bledsoe got injured and just to see him do what he did and what he’s continued to do. That’s when I really fell in love with the Patriots. I’m big on the Boston Celtics. Then when I had an opportunity to come to the south, I was still rooting, loudly, ‘Patriots, Patriots Patriots.’ But you know, once I went through the whole Hurricane Katrina situation, I transitioned and I’m all about the Saints and Pelicans right now.”
Green came on as Zion Williamson’s chef after the Mardi Gras float rolled through the city. He knew the jokes, and unwarranted harsh jabs, from media and fans alike coming into the relationship. Behind everyone’s opinion are different motivations. Williamson and Green are on the same page about the game plan going forward and believe the results speak louder than some talking head on television.
“Approaching this situation, what I saw is it’s all motivation. Me being his personal chef and him being who he is, which he’s a great athlete, it’s all motivations. You know, it sucks that people may think what they think. Because that’s the world we live in, they are quick to bring up so much negativity. But just to see him now, just to see him in the good spirits that he’s in. With the weight that he’s lost and the goals that we have in place, I just know that the sky’s the limit for this young man. The sky’s the limit and he is showing it. He’s showing it by working out daily. By being obedient and sticking to the plan. And you know. You’ve seen him. I’m sure you’ve seen the articles, but I’m sure you’ve seen the videos and everything. He looks great.”
“And you know what. We are not done. The season hasn’t started yet. Just imagine from what you saw in Vegas, just imagine what you are going to see when the season starts.”
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