Mildred Council, Mama Dip herself, will come to UNCP with her daughter, Spring Council, to discuss her life, recipes and her restaurant Tuesday at 7 p.m.
If her work were simply limited to her restaurant, she might not be traveling the state talking to strangers about her food. An article in the New York Times changed the restaurant from a local favorite into a tourist landmark.
“That just started everything,” Mildred Council said. “After that I was on ‘Good Morning America.’ After my cook book came out I’ve been traveling all over the country.”
Her family business employs four of her children and three of her grandchildren. And the side projects she has going keep her and her children busy. Spring Council works in the restaurant six days a week, but also helps her mother while she is out on the road promoting her cookbooks, or working behind the scenes when she does the cooking programs on UNC-TV. She also helped cook many of the recipes featured in Mildred’s second cookbook.
Mildred has won national business awards as well as local ones. Spring said the local ones are sweeter.
“We had an event here through the chamber,” Spring said. “It felt good to be around hometown folks and being recognized by your community.”
Mildred was raised in Chatham County on a farm and came to Chapel Hill in 1945. Mama Dips’ opened in 1976 with $64 — $40 for food and $24 used to make change. The start sounds humble, but just the other night two buses unloaded their passengers at Mama Dips’, she said.
“They come from all over to come to Chapel Hill and go shopping somewhere and this is where they stop to eat,” Mildred said.
Although an outsider might call it success, Mildred seems to think that all this really isn’t that big a deal.
“All I’ve ever done is cook,” she said. “My brothers and sister are all cooks except one. I don’t get no feeling about it because there ain’t nothing to it.”
Spring and Mildred Council will be in the main reading room at the Mary Livermore Library at UNCP at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The program is free and open to the public. For information, call (910) 775-4242.