Chef Keith Corbin Talks Resilience and Opportunity with KIPP Philosophers Academy Scholars

Chef Keith Corbin Talks Resilience and Opportunity with KIPP Philosophers Academy Scholars

On October 19, Watts native Keith Corbin—an acclaimed chef, author, and co-owner of modern soul food restaurant Alta Adams—shared his story of survival, resilience, and purpose with our KIPP Philosophers Academy scholars.

Corbin recently published his first memoir, “California Soul,” where he gives readers a candid, first-hand look into his life in the streets of Jordan Downs, the walls of an LA prison, and the kitchen of Alta Adams. A story he hopes KIPP Philosophers Academy scholars can look up to and feel inspired by. 

During his visit, Corbin walked the halls of KPA mesmerized by the opportunities felt within the building — opportunities he encouraged our 8th-grade scholars to take advantage of during an intimate Q&A session. 

“A lot of times people want to tell you to keep dreaming, keep your head up, go to school, think big — those people don’t come from where we come from. They don't know how hard it is,” said Corbin. “I just want to tell you to keep pushing. Don’t give up, don’t give in, and explore opportunities. The more opportunities you can get outside of your community to see what’s really going on, the better your chances of success.”

Corbin also emphasized the importance of setting goals, like when he made it a personal goal to change the conversations he was having with himself and the conversations people were having about him at the start of his cooking career. Once he started to change his internal and external narrative, he began to see a path forward that would change his legacy and create opportunities for his community. 

"My second goal was to open a business where I can provide opportunities to the very people that come from the background that I come from. I’ve accomplished that goal. I hire formerly incarcerated people who couldn’t get a job anywhere else — that's who I hire,” he said. 

Corbin’s passion and dedication to his community continue to drive him and his goals. His current goal is to give back by creating entrepreneurial opportunities so that generational wealth in his community goes from a dream to a reality.

“My roots are always in Jordan Downs. My nutrition—what feeds me—is right here in my community. You all are my purpose. I couldn’t keep pushing forward to break down barriers if it wasn’t for you all,” he said.  

Corbin plans on returning to KPA to share his craft, skills and knowledge with our culinary scholars in the cooking club on campus. KIPP SoCal is grateful for community partners like Corbin, who are committed to ensuring our KIPPsters are forging paths to opportunity and change. 

Learn more about Chef Keith Corbin's "California Soul" memoir