After a botched robbery attempt a young chef ends up in a wheelchair. We call him the Greatest Chef in Scarborough, and once you meet him we think you’ll agree.
“The shooter took off and left him on the ground bleeding. He dragged himself from the street to the grass.”
This is the story of Aleem Syed. Recently published in Food & Wine, the American magazine takes an in-depth look at his journey of survival and overcoming obstacles to do the only thing he’s ever wanted to do – cook.
“Once they saw me in my wheelchair, I got the runaround. Nobody wants to roll the dice on someone with a disability. They think, ‘This guy can’t work the line.’ They only see this part of me,” he said, gesturing to his chair. “They don’t understand – when you give somebody a chance you can change their life.”
No one gave him a chance, so he bought an old decommissioned Purolator delivery truck and did it himself. “I don’t want to sit at a desk just because I’m in a wheelchair. That’s not how it’s going to be.”
Chef Aleem’s Purolator truck was custom built to fit his wheelchair and The Holy Grill was born, then THG’s Hot Chicken. His first brick and mortar opened this spring and his fan base grows bigger every day.
Perhaps, from the outside, a chef using a wheelchair makes for a compelling story; the guy who got shot and came right back into the kitchen, running things from his wheelchair like a boss. But Aleem’s story is a different reality: the guy who took over a decade to come back. He’d been working away in his food truck, and he’d never told his story. It’s only now that he’s ready.
“I would pray all the time, that would help a lot.” Aleem prayed until he felt something change. “Somehow, with a leap of faith I was able to accept the situation. And there was freedom in that.”