Get Jeff Henderson's Tasty Recipes

Star Vegas chef shares some delicious home style dishes.

Oct. 10, 2008 — -- After serving nearly a decade in prison on drug charges, Jeff Henderson turned his life around by turning toward food.

In 2001, Jeff became the first African-American named "Chef de Cuisine" at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. As a nationally known speaker, he has inspired thousands.

Today, Jeff stopped by "Good Morning America" to share some of his favorite dishes, from chili to pudding.

Try out his recipes below and click here to get more food ideas from the "GMA" recipe index.

Spicy Turkey Chili

Jeff's Thoughts on Spicy Turkey Chili:

"Here's a dish I love, especially in the winter. People usually think of chili as a beef-based dish, but you can use chicken or turkey too. At the Café Bellagio, we diced beef tenderloin tips to make an upscale version. When it comes to the spicy part, choose your heat: cayenne will be the hottest; jalapeño, medium hot; and Tabasco, milder."

Serves: 6-8


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey

1 ½ cups coarsely chopped yellow onions

½ cup coarsely chopped green bell peppers

1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic

tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 medium tomatoes, washed and coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups water

1 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese

1 bunch scallions (tops only), washed and coarsely chopped


1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium pot with a heavy bottom over medium-high heat. Add the meat and stir with a large wooden spoon to break it up. Cook, stirring, until the meat is browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Transfer the meat to a sieve to drain off liquid.

3. Set the pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Return the ground turkey to the pot and mix well.

4. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Taste for flavor and add salt and pepper if needed. Keep warm on the stove until ready to serve.

5. To serve, spoon the chili into individual bowls, top with smoked cheddar cheese, and garnish with scallions. Cornbread (see recipe) goes great with this chili.

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Cake-like Corn Bread

Jeff's Thoughts on Cake-Like Corn Bread:

"The only way I like cornbread is moist and sweet like cake, but you don't often find it made that way. Some folks like to add fresh corn or something spicy and peppery to their batter, but at my house we just like it sweet and light. Try it with maple butter (see recipe below) on top. Don't forget to bake it in a cast-iron skillet."


½ cup cornmeal

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups milk

2 large eggs

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

3. Whisk together the milk, eggs, and melted butter in a separate bowl.

4. Without overmixing, slowly pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients while stirring. Halfway through the mixing process, stop mixing and scrape the bowl, then continue mixing.

5. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch skillet, baking pan, or muffin tins. Bake until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Maple Butter

Jeff's Thoughts on Maple Butter:

"You can't go wrong with sweetened butter served on biscuits, waffles, pancakes or even on a slice of toast. Butter rules. But watch the intake as a lot of butter is not good for the heart. Maple syrup and honey were favorites in my home when I was a child. I remember my mother would often bring honey home in a bear-shaped container for my big sister and me. Aside from drizzling the honey on pancakes, we mostly used it in peanut butter sandwiches when we had no jelly."


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup pure maple syrup


1. Stir the butter and syrup together with a fork in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

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Chocolate S'more Bread Pudding

Jeff's Thoughts on Chocolate S'more Bread Pudding:

"My granddaddy's bread pudding was so good, everyone came over to his house for it, especially my wife, Stacy, when she was craving sweets during her pregnancies. Granddaddy would save the ends of my grandmother's raisin bread and freeze them until he had enough to make a pudding. I never got his recipe, but I came up with one that I think would make him proud. I'm sure he'd have something to say about me adding marshmallows and chocolate chips, but that's granddaddy!"



3 large eggs

4 cups milk

1 cup sugar

½ cup chopped pecans

1 cup small marshmellows

½ cup small bittersweet chocolate chips

1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon molasses

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

10 slices pecan-raisin bread

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


1. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients except the bread and the ice cream and stir to combine.

2. Cut the bread into small cubes and fold it into the egg mixture. Let stand for an hour, making sure the bread is immersed in the liquid.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Scrape the bread mixture into a 13-by-9 inch baking dish. Bake until the center is set, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.