Chef Izzo Overcomes Adversity with Culinary Arts

In the small town of Thomaston, Georgia Issac Walker grew up as any rambunctious and curious kid. One of four siblings, he knew that in one way or another he would make his presence known. He found himself always into something. For special occasions like ones when his uncle would come home from the military, his grandmother would be in the kitchen preparing her famous peach cobbler, Issac would always be in her way but secretly observing and retaining her culinary wisdom. He was also very influenced by another uncle that seemed to have it all, from the flashy cars to the jewelry and clothing. He adopted a specific interest in those same street life activities his uncle was involved in. As a young impressionable kid, the glitz and fast money proved more than just appealing, it became his way of life. Naturally, Issac found himself with the desire to be one of the biggest hustlers around.

God gives every man a path in life and it is up to that man to decide which direction he will take. Issac was faced with one of his biggest crossroads when the street life that he was living became all too real. There was an incident where someone owed him money and Issac thought that he was big and bad enough to go and collect on the debt. As he stood there with a pistol in his hand and fear filling his heart, a choice had to be made. It was all happening so fast and reality hit him as officers put handcuffs on him while placing him in the back of a police car. His mother had a lot of reputable clout in the community and he watched on as a conversation took place between the officer and his terribly disappointed mother. He knew it was time to make a change as the officer opened the door of the police car and told him he would be headed off to the Navy and he needed to stay out of trouble.

Issac took the ASVAB arithmetic reasoning practice test a few weeks later to avoid what could have been his fate and start a new venture into the US Navy. After receiving extremely low scores he had only two options and placement one being a Culinary Specialist or a Gas Turbine Engineer. Slowly but surely he began to really find an interest in the culinary world turning what is simply known as cooking and baking into an art form. Just like the days of him being in the kitchen with his grandmother, he became a sponge and absorbed the teachings of his fellow comrades. Now dubbed Chef Izzo, his work ethic allowed for him to be one of the youngest in charge while manning 2 to 3 galleys at a single time. His name came up for a great opportunity to work as a Navy Flight Attendant, which would offer his expertise and culinary creations flying aboard aircrafts with major dignitaries such as Vice Presidents and other World Leaders. In order to be chosen for a roll of this magnitude, there are certain clearances and security checks that have to be administered prior to getting this type of rank and when it was discovered Chef Izzo had gotten into some trouble in his past they decided to look elsewhere for that position to be filled. That did not stop him as he continued to engulf himself in all of the teachings from his mentors that spread over many countries and continents. He found himself in Japan, Singapore, Kuwait, and Russia over his nine years of active duty. It wasn’t until he got back to Fort Belvoir and soon after got married, that he felt he needed to make another life decision that would be fitting for him at this point in his journey.

After much thought and prayer, Chef Izzo went to his ranking officers to see what he could do about leaving his active duty status and after some deliberation, he was honorably discharged to pursue schooling. Chef Izzo began his new life as a married civilian now attending Stratford University. He continued to pursue the culinary world and also brought back some of the traditions of his family with the passion and love put into every dish he would create. Now, of course, with every new change come new