CHATHAM — "MasterChef" finalist Eboni Henry wants her city to join her Wednesday at a watch party for the show’s season finale on Fox.
Henry, a Chatham native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, will return to watch with friends and family at the Razzmatazz, 3900 S. Ashland Ave. at 6:30 p.m. The show airs at 7 p.m.
She graduated from Hyde Park High School and Ruggles Elementary, both on the South Side. She used to work as a substance abuse counselor, and she's a part-time caterer. She and her high school sweetheart, who's in the Navy, married and have four children. On Instagram she's @twerkingchef because she likes to dance while she cooks. Her catering menu can be found at twerkingchef.com.
Henry said it was her sister who encouraged her to try to get on the show. Going in, she had no preconceived notions.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she said. “I was nervous at first, but I'm such a tough survivor, so it took them a long time to get me to break and be vulnerable.”
Her breaking point came during the semifinals when she had to prepare live crawfish.
“I really don't like to kill stuff, so it was something I had to overcome,” Henry said, adding that the judges were supportive in helping her get through the process.
She has been cooking since she was 13. Because she was always at her now-husband’s house growing up, she learned to cook from his mother. She has no formal chef training but said she knew she had a gift for cooking when people always asked for seconds.
“Cooking for me is like my meditating,” she said. “When things are just going crazy, for some reason cooking soothes me. You can solve every problem through food because you have to put love into doing it so that it tastes good. Me being in the kitchen, that’s just my happy space. I can just be me and not worry about anything.”
Some of her favorite dishes to prepare are duck and lamb. She says she also loves making pastries.
The overall experience on the show has been great, she said.
“The journey has been explosive,” Henry said. “Of course, I’m a powerhouse in the kitchen, but I got to encounter so many different cooks. Along my journey, I got to learn a lot of new plating techniques from just taking the judges’ feedback and my fellow contestants. I’m just excited.”