Carter brings chef’s experience

Published 6:31 pm Monday, February 1, 2010

How many seu chefs come to Demopolis to open a restaurant? Better yet, how many seu chefs come from Demopolis?

As anyone who has seen “Ratatouille” knows, a seu chef is the second in command of a kitchen, and Dinesha Carter wants to bring her experiences back home to Demopolis.

Carter graduated from high school here in 1997 and went to the University of West Alabama for two years. After that, she moved to Lansing, Mich., and lived with her uncle, then moved to Chicago and lived with another uncle.

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She returned to Alabama and served as the college campaign manager for Bobby Maddox and for State Sen. Bobby Singleton. She is now working with Shelia Smoot’s campaign for Congress.

But it isn’t politics that stirs her pot; it is cooking.

“Cooking has always been my thing,” she said. “I love cooking, and I love growing food. I went to California and started training as a seu chef out there. I was trained under a five-star chef. They taught me how to carve, how to make dressings from scratch – we made almost everything from scratch. That’s what I want to bring here to Demopolis. I want to open my own bed-and-breakfast.”

Cooking was just something she did when she lived in Demopolis, but she was inspired to take that interest to a new level after meeting a chef in California.

“What inspired me was, when I met one of the chefs at a restaurant. I was talking to the head chef, and he told me that he never went to a cooking school; he just trained,” Carter said. “His family took him to Italy, and he just trained for 20 years, and he is a top chef in San Diego. That inspired me that you can get under someone and train. Both of my grandmothers were cooks. One was a professional cook in New Orleans — she had a bed-and-breakfast — and my other grandmother, Alice Carter, was a cook here. So, I’ve been cooking all my life.”

That began her culinary study, training under the owner and the chef at a restaurant in San Diego.

“I trained at the Salad Style restaurant in San Diego under the former owner, Mary Jo Testa,” Carter said. “I was kind of like a fish out of water when I first got there. The place that I trained from was a gourmet soup and salad place – the only one in the world. It was just a great experience. It was a compacting experience. I was kind of taking over. I was opening up from 7:30 to 3:30. It was just a lot within a short period of time.”

The daughter of Josie Carter and the late Danny Daniels, Dinesha Carter has seen a little bit of the world, and now wants to see a lot while she can.

She recommends that the students of Demopolis get away and see more of the world after graduation while they are young.

“I would definitely recommend that they leave the area and make sure that they get a wider view of what’s going on in the world,” she said. “Even if you have to join the military to go see the world and serve your country. I would say: Leave Demopolis, go see the world, and come back and give to your community.”

That is something that Dinesha Carter wants to do with the establishment of a bed-and-breakfast here. She is proof that someone can be from Demopolis and still bring the world back home.