When James Price attended a summer program at College Living Experience in Denver as a teenager, he didn’t know he would be returning home with new skills that would change his life.
Price was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was 3. Growing up, it never got in the way of his goals to become an independent young adult. At the summer program, he learned culinary skills, and he was one of the only teens there who excelled at the craft.
A few years later, he returned to Denver to attend culinary school at Emily Griffith Technical.
“It was a little hard for me in the beginning, but I pulled through,” he says.
Pull through, indeed. At 24, Price is now working as a prep chef for the restaurant group behind Bistro Byronz and Flambée Café in Baton Rouge.
“I basically get to test my skills in a small restaurant,” he says.
He worked his way up to the Flambée Café job after stints at Fresh Kitchen and the Baton Rouge Country Club for a few years.
The restaurant’s salads and the avocado smash sandwich known as Vive le Verte are among some of his favorite dishes to prepare.
“In my free time after work, I know how to make an omelet,” Price adds. “I learned that from the culinary school when I was in Denver. It was my first station.”
Price’s mother, Jennifer, says working in the kitchens has been really beneficial for him.
“He lives alone. He pays his own bills,” she says. “For once, we stopped talking about what he can’t do and started focusing on what he can do. Teach him, show him, engage him—and he’ll do it the right way.”
“Working in the kitchen is kind of like being in an art class—you make dishes like you are working on a painting or a drawing. Sometimes you have to create your own spices and foods.”
This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.