Carmelita Jean's longtime love of cooking has lead her to her biggest endeavor yet: owning a restaurant.
Jean and her husband, Burl, bought Christie's on the Square in Salem, fall of 2005, after owner Christie Luckett sold it.
Carmelita Jean was a former caterer who got her start when she took a position cooking for the local Lions Club in the 1980's.
"I kept one of her favorite salads," Jean said of the former owner. But, now the menu is loaded with recipes from Carmelita Jean's family, including her late mother's yeast rolls and dumplings. Jean said her mother, Marjorie Myers, was a "good cook who taught me what good food tastes like."
"Down home family food": is the way Jean, a 71-year old grandmother, describes the meals at the restaurant.
The Jeans' restaurant has offered cooking classes in the past and plans to offer them again in the fall of 2010. Restaurant chefs, guest chefs and good cooks from the area share their expertise at the cooking classes.
"I used to do it (offer cooking classes) for newlyweds in my home," said Jean, who confessed she didn't know a thing about cooking when she got married. Through the years, Jean said she has taken advantage of numerous cooking classes because of her passion for cooking and an eagerness to learn.
Jean is offering something else at her restaurant as well. "If someone says: 'I would really like to have that recipe,'" Jean said, We have produced our first cookbook. Look for our second one closer to the holidays.. The luncheon menu offers soups, sandwiches and salads. Desserts, including pies, are made fresh daily. And a Sunday buffet, including one for children is offered.
Carmelita Jean believes the restaurant will be good for her community, a town she loves and one that has honored her with numerous awards for her volunteer work.
"Food is fun," Jean said. And fellowship around a meal: "bonds your friendship."