"As a little boy when I was growing up in L.A. and San Diego," he said, "if somebody would have told me that I was smart, I was intelligent and I have potential, and I had an opportunity to partake in project called the 'Chef Jeff project,' would it have impacted my life? God only knows."
Henderson currently is on tour promoting his new cook book, "Chef Jeff Cooks," and speaking in prisons and schools throughout the country. But the best-selling author hasn't forgotten his brothers on the inside.
"There's a lot of people who have been to prison who are successful out there," he said. "They just don't talk about it. I talk about it."
One of Henderson's favorite dishes is still "Friendly Fried Chicken," a recipe he learned from his prison mentor, Friendly Womack, Jr. He serves it with red beans and rice, and corn bread.
"That [is the] meal that gives me the most joy [when] preparing," he said. "Food is a celebration of life, and I believe that every recipe, every dish has a story behind it."
Looking back, Henderson knows that he has come a long way from his days on the street to find his passion for food and to working to change lives.
"I know for the rest of my life I'll be giving back, fixing the wrong," he said.
"I'm not proud of what I've done in my former life," Henderson added. "Today I do truly believe it is my responsibility, but it's also my passion. Besides cooking, I truly believe it's my calling to touch the lives of people who feel they have no hope or have no potential to be successful."