Charise Cureton, Personal Chef: Grasshoppers
Five Minutes with Charise Cureton, Personal Chef:
“If it’s good, I’ll go with it. That’s really the point of being a foodie: you eat for adventure. “
From Journalism to Food
My foodie story really takes place over the span of twenty years. I got into hospitality when I moved from New York to Myrtle Beach. I’m a journalist by trade, but I realized that it really wasn’t for me and I got an opportunity when I moved south to change my stripes.
Myrtle Beach was very easy to get into hospitality. That’s really when I realized that I loved the food industry. I like to cook – I enjoy doing all of the things that involve being with people – but I never really doing them together. As it happened, I got laid off from where I was working, and I was like, “What am I going to do…”
A friend of mine asked me if I had ever working in a kitchen before, and of course, I said “No.” But that started my apprenticeship for a couple years under an executive chef with a Holiday Inn. So, my skills are not gained the traditional route, but boy was that apprenticeship a doozy. I really got my core skills on-the-job.
That, plus my personality, the higher-ups wanted me in the front of the house, instead of in the kitchen. So, that’s how it all came together.
And then, to Wilmington
Myrtle Beach felt way too small for me, and many of the people who had met there suggested that I move up north. My sister had been in Wilmington for a decade, and even though I had never really enjoyed visiting her here, I decided to come here. It’s really grown on me during the time that I’ve been here. When I first came here, I hadn’t even found “downtown” yet. For the first few years here, I had a job in the front of the house, because I really love interacting with people. I started at On The Border – it was more fun than income, but I had a blast there. When I looked at the numbers, though, I was like what am I doing here?
My brother is a chef. He got his degree at Cape Fear. He said, you have to try this place out, and I decided to really come downtown. I enjoy front of the house – I love people, I can be social, I don’t sweat as much. So, I’ve been at Bourbon Street for the last six years. I started front of the house, but I let on that I have kitchen skills, and now I have a split schedule there: I spend a couple mornings in the kitchen bound up and sweating, and then also work the front, making friends and “politicking.”
I still do Bourbon Street, and now I’m baby-stepping. Edward Teach was a great opportunity, to do a bit of my own thing. I do “Thursday Thacos” for them, and that’s a lot of fun. I’m just in the initial stages of my “Grasshopping” adventure. I’m really juggling opportunities with my full-time position. I have to find time to make the deal, do the shopping, and the prep, and pull it all together. The balance is a difficult task. That’s where the hard work is. I love it though!
The dream is – my real end goal – is work at a resort. I want to do four- and five- star resorts. I see that in ten to fifteen years. Right now, my immediate goal is my very own venue. I would like people to come to me in a relaxed environment. I’d love to have an open environment where I can come and entertain guests. If I could accomplish that as a personal chef, that would be phenomenal. I would love to work with holistic concepts. That could be my next thing.
I’m not classically trained, so I have a broad range of capabilities, and I do the things that I love. I’m not pigeon-holed. I’d say my favorite cuisine is Italian: I love to build sauces, and I love cheese. Next, if it’s not too spicy, which I can control, I love to cook with Caribbean flavors. And I just love to eat everything.
But really, send me some cheeses. Well maybe not brie. And bleu cheese only on a burger.
Food is the thing for me now, but I do write. Maybe blogging… maybe once I’m really established, and I have the pleasure of being a delegater, and check signer, perhaps there’s a novel in the making. Of course, there would be food in it. It would definitely be about the industry!