BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — "Where else in Dorchester are you gonna find honey-fried cornbread?" asks Anthony Caldwell, owner of Dorchester's newest eatery, 50 Kitchen.
It's just one of the inventive items sold at his restaurant, from a southern American-Asian fusion menu he's created to reflect the identity of the Field's Corner neighborhood.
"There's a lot of Asians, there's a lot of African Americans, there's a lot of everybody—it's really fusion," he said. "You can read the menu and say, jambalaya egg rolls, smoked banh mi."
But just as unique as the cuisine is Caldwell's story. The 51-year-old Dorchester native learned to cook behind bars, later training in the classical French style. He told WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama that, with cooking, he has found a new lease on life.
"I can't even count how many mistakes I've made," he said. "I've lived a lifestyle of gangs and drugs, incarceration, bad relationships, stabbed five times, shot once, pronounced dead twice."
Caldwell said he believes second chances are "two things: possible and necessary."
He served his time, found faith, and got clean—and with the help of the Fields Corner Business Lab, opened 50 Kitchen.
Caldwell called the grand opening of the restaurant "intense."
"I was pleased with the turnout, the overpouring of love, gratitude that people were showing," he said.
Caldwell credits divine intervention, saying God made him a promise that, if he stopped drinking, he would have his own kitchen by age 50.
"I decided to take a leap of faith, and here I am," he said. "I feel real lucky. I should've been dead 25 years ago. I stand before you a blessed man, and because of that, I understand second chances."
WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports