An Interview with Beverly Jerricks, Chef at Promises West L.A.
There are many important factors to consider when choosing a drug rehab: the program philosophy, the qualifications of the staff, the level of one-on-one attention. But let’s face it, one of the most pressing questions on everyone’s mind is, “How’s the food?”
With Beverly Jerricks in the kitchen at Promises West L.A., clients aren’t disappointed. By the time they arrive for breakfast at 7:30 a.m., Beverly has been up for hours preparing a gourmet spread that is sure to please. For those with a discerning palette, ricotta and lemon pancakes and egg white omelets are on the menu. Clients looking for some familiar favorites will find a buffet of eggs, bacon, sausage, yogurt, cereal and fruit.
Down-Home Comfort Meets Healthy Nutrition
At every meal, clients can choose from a wide variety of healthy, fresh foods, many of which are homemade by Beverly herself. Lunch and dinner consist of three different types of meats (e.g., beef, chicken and fish), accompanied by two to three delicious side dishes. A client favorite is Beverly’s kale salad with homemade lemonette dressing. In line with Promises’ emphasis on individualized care, Beverly works to accommodate vegan/vegetarian clients, preferences for organic foods, as well as other special diets.
Born in Louisiana, Beverly is a southern girl at heart. Some of her favorite dishes to prepare (and eat) are Cajun seafood gumbo, fried chicken and cornbread. Like many clients, she also enjoys serving up traditional Mexican food.
Given her own family history of addiction, Beverly is always mindful of the nutritional needs of the clients coming to Promises.
“When they first begin treatment, clients often look so frail and malnourished,” says Beverly. “My goal is to help address their nutritional needs so they can get back to being healthy. It’s amazing to see their transformation as they come in one way and leave another.”
Presentation Is Everything
Beverly wasn’t always a gourmet chef. She spent 22 years in retail sales management before she decided that she needed a change of pace. A lifelong love of cooking and entertaining led her to culinary school. During her 16 years serving up culinary delights, she has worked as lead baker in one of the largest convention facilities in Los Angeles and as head crew member in the catering department for both Sony and Raleigh Studios. She has also directed events such as the MTV Awards, political dinners and movie premiers.
In these positions, Beverly grew accustomed to serving the most discriminating tastes, including a long list of political figures, sports icons and celebrities. Her commitment to delectable foods and superior service even landed her a face-to-face meeting with former president Bill Clinton. It was during her years in catering that Beverly learned the importance of serving meals that are nothing short of exquisite, not only because of their rich flavor but because of their irresistible presentation.
“You have to make the food look good before people are willing to try it and discover how good it tastes,” says Beverly, who is known as a perfectionist in the kitchen. “I wouldn’t feed anyone anything I wouldn’t eat myself.”
Every other Friday, Beverly prepares community lunch at Promises. It’s a time when clients and staff come together for a meal and Beverly gets a chance to show off the full breadth of her culinary skills. And the compliments are endless.
A Welcome Break
Delicious as it is, mealtime at Promises West L.A. is also a welcome break from the seriousness of recovery. Beverly does her best work when listening to R&B music, singing a few notes and busting a move while she cooks. Clients love the music, and are drawn to Beverly’s loving, magnetic nature. The show wouldn’t be complete without “Shorty,” Beverly’s petite kitchen assistant who is full of spunk and personality.
A fulfilling personal life is what has enabled Beverly to give 100 percent to her work for the past 10 years at Promises. She has been married for 35 years and has a 33-year-old son. She works a second job as a waitress for sporting events at the Staples Center. In her free time, she likes playing cards, going to live comedy shows and movies, and, of course, eating. Beverly has a certain lightness to her that, she says, comes from her relationship with God.
“I have a great deal of compassion and love for people, regardless of whether or not I know them personally,” says Beverly, “and that’s a feeling I try to convey to the clients at Promises and in everything I do.”