Chef Marcus Todd makes his most memorable music when he's chopping, mincing, and stirring, when his skillets are sizzling and his pots are bubbling, and when he's sharing the story of God's power and grace that transformed his life.
Steve and I sampled Chef Todd's wonderful cooking during breakfast at Stockbridge Lakes Bed & Breakfast in Stockbridge, GA just south of Atlanta. A beautiful blueberry muffin fruit parfait with lots of whipped cream and strawberries was waiting when we walked into the dining room. Chef took our orders for how we wanted our eggs, then brought out a steaming bowl of shrimp and grits with the eggs and croissants—a decadent and delicious start to our day.
His mischievous smile and youthful appearance belied the fact that he'll turn 59 on Halloween and has 4 kids and 2 grandkids. I asked if his wife let him do the cooking at home. He replied, "Oh yes. She's a teacher and doesn't cook." I'd say that's a win for her to come home from a day of teaching to a dinner that her husband has skillfully prepared.
We learned that Chef Todd graduated #1 in his culinary class, that he once cooked for the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that he owns MLM Catering Company. But most importantly, we learned that on March 26, 1991, God brought Marcus Todd out of a miry pit of drugs and alcohol and turned his life completely around. He has been sober since that day and gives God all the credit.
Marcus' mom died when he was very young. He went to church with the relatives who raised him and learned about Jesus, but he was in a bad part of Atlanta and gave in to some negative influences. At age 18, he was stabbed and stopped breathing twice in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He joined the Marines but that environment only made his addictions worse. He was a self-described horrible husband and father who eventually lost everything before God got his attention.
On his journey out of self-destruction, he discovered a passion for cooking and gained some loyal clients. Relationships were mended.
When I asked if he had a particular Bible verse or passage that helped him, he mentioned the Serenity Prayer ("God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference"). He said he understood the verse "Jesus wept," because Jesus saw people who were lost and suffering. He himself has been one of those lost, suffering people, and he, too, sees folks who are still in misery and despair.
Marvin and Anita Johnson are not only the owners of Stockbridge Lakes Bed & Breakfast. They are also people of deep faith. They are sources of great encouragement for Chef Todd, and in turn, their guests receive an amazing breakfast when they stay at their inn. Their relationship is also a reminder of how valuable it is for believers to stay connected to fellow believers.
By the end of that breakfast, Steve and I felt as if we'd been to a revival service. We were inspired and so grateful to God for working in the lives of Marvin, Anita, and Marcus.
P.S. Chef Todd gave me permission to share his story.