Kenneth Carlisle, who goes by the nickname, “Bubba,” has acquired the recipe for leading a spiritually healthy and emotionally fulfilled life and it involves being drug and alcohol free.
The special ingredient is an abiding faith and daily walk with Jesus Christ, according to Carlisle, who is among several employees recovering from alcohol and drug use and who are employed with Miles McMath, the accomplished TV chef and owner of Junior's, just off the historic square in Hernando.
“Miles gives us an opportunity to be better and follow the Lord in a safe environment,” Carlisle said. “I am steadily following the Lord.”
For Carlisle, a native of Mendenhall, his battles with addiction have left him victorious but battle-scarred.
“I started out when I was a kid,” said Carlisle. “I wouldn't listen well. I ended up dropping out of school. In 2005-2006, I served in Iraq, and after I got back, I went AWOL and began using drugs. I overdosed three times and was dead three times. There is no reason I should be alive right now.”
Carlisle said his life began to turn around after he witnessed the turnaround experienced by his younger brother.
“My little brother went to the Warrior Disciples Ministries,” said Carlisle. “He kept on telling me how Christ loved me.”
Carlisle said he had to hit rock bottom before his life would take an upward turn.
“In February of 2017, I was headed to a drug dealer's house,” Carlisle said. “I had just gotten out of jail. I was tired. I went to church and gave my life to Christ. My drug use had taken a toll.”
That's where McMath and his offer to employ Carlisle and others who suffered from addiction issues literally transformed Carlisle's life for the better.
“Most all of my employees have either had a drug addiction or been incarcerated,” said McMath, the former head chef for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and a frequent celebrity TV chef.
McMath said for him it was just a matter of paying it forward.
“Somebody helped me,” McMath said. “A lot of these guys just need a chance. For them, it's a safe landing spot for them to get back on their feet and to get them through the tough times. A lot of these guys have child support. Growing up, I had a checkered past. Nothing serious, but I got into trouble. I always had somebody there to help me. It's a shame society has just thrown these guys away. They are unbelievably hard-working and great people. Most everybody had cooking skills but you get guys in here who are willing to learn.”
McMath said lifting the burdens of others is something that the good Lord placed on his heart.
“It's what the Bible teaches,” said McMath, who also donates leftover food to the homeless. “It's taking wasted food and wasted lives and putting them to good use and in the good Lord's hands.”
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.