Local chef who turned life around wants to empower city's youth

SAN ANTONIO – It shouldn't come as a surprise a chef views life as a recipe metaphor.

"We are all ingredients to one child's perfect dish. You have multiple ingredients that goes to make a cake. The finished product is a child's success in life," said chef Milas Williams.

Standing Saturday in the dining room that would host his annual "Youth Empowerment Thanksgiving Dinner" on Sunday, Williams has plans for bringing out the potential in the city's children. The free event is in its third year, and Williams hopes that the formal dining experience, based on a traditional, family-style meal, will teach the kids life skills, table etiquette and also that there are people in influential positions who support them.

He knows how hard it can be to find the success he's hoping the kids will find.

"Dealing with a lot of youth growing up, and seeing a lot of my peers doing the wrong thing or going off to incarceration. I experienced that myself in life," he said, referring to the time he served for robbery.

Williams got out from behind bars a few years ago - helped through by his close friend Charles Sattiewhite, who he considers his brother, and some peers.

"Them motivating me and instructing me, 'Hey man, you can make it. You can come out and be somebody else, better than what you were,'" Williams recalls.

He went to college while behind bars, he said, studying the culinary arts. It was the beginning of a new career for him, and he has found mentors in local chefs like Johnny Hernandez and David Gates and others, who Williams said "have partnered into being the ingredients to my recipe in life."

Now he's trying to do his part to make a difference, helped along with Sattiewhite, who is also the president of San Antonio Rising Stars.

"When me and my brother - we started this as again, seeing how we were raised: the gang backgrounds, the dope dealing, the things that the inner city of the East Side back in the '90s - the '80s and '90s. We experienced that, and so we just want to give back."

Looking at the community programs for youth, Williams said, they and Williams's wife saw there was a need for more to be done.

"So we're just the icing on the cake," he said. 

Even if it's icing, it's another ingredient for a "child's perfect dish."

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.