He is as unique as his fanciful moniker – a type-A personality with strong ties to home and a strong family background. Achievements come easy. It’s just recognizing where he excels. That’s the hard part for Therman Sisco.
Take, for example, the time his friend Ebonie Gipson, founder of I’m Building Something Consulting, suggested Sisco take a course she was teaching on starting a business, one that would enable him to expand his culinary skills into a full-time operation.
“It’s a hobby. I’m OK,” he responded, gently turning her down. Gipson insisted, and her friend eventually relented. Gipson’s year-long course gives its enrollees all the information they need on starting a business and keeping it going.
“I completed her course in six months,” Sisco says. “That’s how we got started. One year ago, Sisco’s Catering LLC was born.”
The chef and entrepreneur started cooking 30 years ago. “It is a family thing,” he quips when describing the environment he grew up in. He would bring the whole Flint Academy football team home. His mom would cook for the passel of growing – and hungry – boys who were of course in need of food after practice. Sisco always watched and learned.
His parents hail from the south – his father from Memphis, Tenn., and his mother from Selma, Ala., – where food and family are always close at hand.
Sisco and his three brothers – Timmy, Tommy, and Terrance – were taught many things by their parents, cooking primary among them.
“It kind of stuck with me,” says Sisco. “We also had a garden so we grew up with a lot of fresh food around, and we always had a four-course meal of meat, starch, vegetable, and fruits.”
Out of high school Sisco joined the Marine Corps, entering at 18 and spending the next four years there.
“I told absolutely no one about wanting to go into the Marines,” he says. “I only called my mom and told her after I had signed up.”
It was a decision that fell in line with his others – one characterized by overachievement. “I wanted to be the best I could be, that’s just me,” he says.
“I always wanted to be part of something that was bigger than me, to achieve more.”
After leaving the military, Sisco went to Lane College in Jackson, Miss., as a pre-law student. He returned to Flint and settled into roles as coach, teacher, and mentor. Sisco worked for Flint Community Schools coaching high school football for 28 years.
Gipson’s program allowed Sisco to step back from it and gain some perspective. He now works out of the kitchen at the Fresh Fish Cafe on Proctor Ave. and is almost too busy.
“We have done really well. Right now, we are kind of the man,” he says confidently.
Sisco’s, as he says, does it all. Although comfort food is the major indulgence, he will make anything and everything.
“You come to Sisco’s and you get that meatloaf-stuffed cornbread muffin with collard greens or one that’s stuffed with mac and cheese and bacon,” he says. “It’s food that says, ‘Everything is going to be OK.’”
It’s food that has also won fans left and right in the city. Sisco has built many strong relationships and has even been asked to prepare food for important family affairs, like anniversaries and funerals.
Besides his professional and community success, Sisco has raised a thriving family. He is father to 14 children. One son, Montrell Shackelford, is a master chef and graduate of the Cordon Bleu in Miami. His daughter, Jasmine, is studying to be a pastry chef at U of M-Flint.
“God has blessed me,” Sisco says. “They are my legacy. I’ll leave the business to them.”
Sisco’s older brother Tim also works with the company.
On top of his present profession, Sisco teaches Sunday school at his church, Church is Higher Quality of Life Ministries, and coordinates its outreach program, which conducts food and clothing giveaways as well as a literacy program called the Nyansapo Project (African for “wisdom”). It bridges the gap between father and son, taking dads and young men through a 24-week program where they learn fundamentals they may not have been taught.
“We help them to become better fathers,” says Sisco.
Despite his current success, Sisco doesn’t have a desire at the moment to open his own restaurant but only to continue as a caterer. “I want to meet people where their need is,” he says.
“I love people and love to eat,” Sisco says. “My motto is ‘food, family, and friends, forever,’ because with all of these, you are happy.”
For more information please visit Sisco’s Catering’s Facebook page.
— Photos courtesy of Sisco Catering LLC