Diamond Chef Decade: Jimmy Carter of Verizon Arena

Jimmy Carter of Verizon Arena

How long have you been cooking?

Since I was about six. My mom worked nights, and my older sister was left in charge. After her first attempt at a dinner went south, I realized quickly that I better learn how to cook or I might starve. What started with scrambled eggs has become my passion. I’ve been cooking professionally since 2008.

What made you want to become a chef?

I was born in Providence, Rhode Island, where my father still lives today. I would fly from Arkansas to visit Dad for a week every summer. He introduced me to all the different types of food — Italian, Chinese, regional New England, real pastries and the best seafood in the world. After my vacation I was back in Arkansas thirsting for more, so I would give Dad a call, and he would walk me through how to prepare those wonderful dishes.

I knew right then I wanted to be able to cook like that forever.

What is your secret weapon that gives you a competitive edge in this competition?

I am an artist and a third generation chef. My natural ability to cook and the skill set I’ve obtained through schooling will make me hard to beat.

Is there anything you don’t like cooking?

I haven’t come across anything yet. I love everything about the kitchen; it’s what I do. From peeling cases of potatoes for hours on end, to washing dishes and mopping the kitchen floor after a banquet — that’s all part of it. When I do run across anything difficult for me to cook, I find an easier way to prepare it. Ultimately, it’s all about pleasing your customers. Seeing their facial expression change when they taste your food is so satisfying. It makes it easier to get up and go to work every day.

See more of A Decade of Diamond Chef: This Year’s Culinary Contestants

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