Mary Beth Ringgold of Cajun’s Wharf, Capers, and Copper Grill

How long have you been cooking?

I grew up in the restaurant industry with both my father and my grandfather having small restaurant concepts. Although, at the time, I had very little interest in pursuing a career in restaurants, I cooked a little as a kid.

But it wasn’t until after I had toppled head first into running restaurants (in the 80s) that I wanted to learn to cook and train staff to follow correct kitchen procedures. The creative piece of the puzzle came later when we opened Capers (1997).

What made you want to become a chef?

I am a little different than the others competing in Diamond Chef. My desires to understand cooking and food trends were predicated by owning diverse restaurant concepts. Kitchen teams are made up of people with a variety of different skill sets. You aren’t always lucky enough to have chefs and cooks with creative expertise. So in order to create menus, personalized catering and banquet menus, and nightly specials, you have to develop that proficiency.

How do you feel about being the only woman in the competition?

I feel fine about it. I have had my head above the “glass ceiling” for many years now. I have learned how to be in the moment and enjoy what it has to offer. So I hope to be out there having some fun.

What is your favorite thing to cook and why?

I have many favorites. I love to roast a chicken using a variety of different recipes. A roast chicken is comfort food for me, and it makes for a great smell in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. I also enjoy cooking seafood dishes.

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