Mama Dip’s restaurant, advertising “down home Southern cooking since 1976,” is a comfort food staple in its home of Chapel Hill, NC. Owner Mildred Council, or as most call her, “Mama Dip,” grew up on a farm in Chatham County, and was cooking at just ten years old.

“I learned to make apple pies when I was ten years old,” Council said. “We would get the apples off the tree and peel them and then we’d put them in the sun.”

Today, her famous menu features Southern classics done the Mama Dip way including chicken and dumplings, barbecue and fried chicken, a food which Council says is “a form of love.”

Growing up cooking and baking with family, she decided to share the special home cooked meals with others. “It was joy,” Council said of opening her restaurant, and seeing it become a success. “And knowing that I was an Afro-American or a black woman and then I got this thing going, and then I got all these white people sitting down to eat, and they said this is good food!”

Today the food rooted in family is still a family business. Council said each of her eight children has worked in her restaurant at some point.

With her own personal history behind the food, and the history of Southern cooking, it’s no wonder Council said “the food has a history of its own.”

Learn more on Mama Dip’s website.