That pumpkin seed Mama Dip planted brought happiness and joy to her family and neighbors, and she realized that to have a good life, it needed to be tended like that pumpkin seed—tilled, fed, and harvested. And that's what she's tried to do ever since.
Mildred Edna Cotton Council (aka Mama Dip) was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, to Ed Cotton and Effie Edwards Cotton. She was raised in Balwin Township where she started cooking at an early age. Mildred was the youngest of seven, and was dubbed "Dip" by her siblings because she was so tall and had such long arms that she could reach way down in the rain barrel to scoop up a big dipper full of water when the level was low. Mama Dip first learned to cook watching family members make meals by using the "dump cooking" method. Dump cooking means no recipes, just measure by eye, feel, taste, and testing.
Mama Dip's first job was as a family cook in Chapel Hill. She then moved on to work at Carolina Coffee Shop, Kappa Sigma fraternity and St. Andrews Hall. In 1957 she worked with her mother-in-law in a tiny take-out restuarant where she began to hone her business skills. On a Sunday in November 1976 Mama Dip opened her own restuarant with $64, $40 dollars went toward food and $24 was used to make change. The morning's take was used to fund the lunch meal and lunch to fund the dinner. At the end of the day Mama Dip took home $135, and the rest is history.