LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Keith Corbin is the owner and executive chef at Alta Adams restaurant and now, a best-selling author of his memoir "California Soul," but he had to work hard to make it this far.
He grew up in Watts, raised by his grandmother. At a young age, he got involved with gangs and drug dealing, which eventually landed him in prison.
"The drug game and the gang culture, just has always been a part of my life, my family," Corbin said. "There was really no network to plug me into besides gang culture."
Corbin would end up going to prison three times, serving a total of 10 years. It was in prison where he began to develop his passion for cooking.
When he got out, Corbin said employers judged him based on his record, but he eventually began working at a local restaurant that was hiring on the spot.
"We're talking about a $13-an-hour job," Corbin said. "It was hard to swallow that pill, but I took the job, but I have to be honest, I didn't treasure that opportunity."
Corbin said he tried to quit several times, but his team and friend Daniel Patterson wouldn't allow him.
Eventually he got promoted and got the opportunity to open his own restaurant using his ideas.
"I would love to take the food I grew up with and put it on a platform like every other culture, you know? Taking the dishes that my granny made and using farm to table," he said.
He opened up Alta Adams with his partner in 2018 featuring his take on California soul food.
In 2022, Corbin published his memoir.
He said his goal is to be the example that he never had to others.
"I want to be the person at the end of your tunnel that you can look towards and say, 'This guy came where I came from,'" he said.
To continue to inspire others, Corbin is looking to raise money to send 2,000 copies of his books to send to various prisons.
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