NEW ORLEANS (NewsNation Now) — A man who spent 20 years in prison for possession of five ounces of marijuana went to culinary school behind bars, opening a restaurant in New Orleans.
Shermond Esteen Jr. opened Nonno’s Cajun Cuisine & Pastries in the Seventh Ward neighborhood.
“There’s only two things you can do in prison, you can either get bitter or better. So I fought every day to get better,” Esteen Jr. told NewsNation affiliate WGNO. “Well, I’ve been to the bottom now I’m headed to the top.”
While in prison, the new restaurateur attended culinary school and was in charge of making meals for 600 inmates.
When asked by NewsNation affiliate WGNO reporter Bill Wood where his courage comes from, Esteen Jr. replied, “God.”
“Nonno means ‘grandfather’ in Italian and I’m a grandfather,” said the resilient chef. “I’ve never been a quitter in nothing I’ve done. I’ve always fought hard. I’ve always strived.”
NewsNation affiliate WGNO contributed to this report.