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A Chef Turns Chow Hall Meals Into Magic



Some inmates say food in a prison's chow hall is tasteless and bland. But that's not the case when John Parratt — also known as Yah-Yah — is in the kitchen.

He has the ability to make prison food taste like it's been home-cooked. It's why many have dubbed him the unofficial Chef of San Quentin.



"You know, when it comes to any type of food — institutional food — you have to cook with your heart. If you go in the kitchen, in the morning when they wake you up and you're upset and you're mad because you didn't get a good night’s sleep, that's how the food is gonna taste. If you're in a good joyful spirit and you're prayed up the food will taste good."

San Quentin Radio is a project in which KALW editors work with inmates to tell stories inside the prison. San Quentin officials listened to and approved the script and audio for this story prior to broadcast. Thanks to Sam Robinson and Larry Schneider for their help.

Click the audio player above to listen to the full story. 

Crosscurrents San Quentin RadioFrom The Producers Of Uncuffed
Thomas "Shakur" Ross is a producer of KALW's Uncuffed, presenting stories that show the humanity of incarcerated people.