Chef cooks creative cuisine

IUS Horizon

James Carter, executive chef for the Food Court, peels hardboiled eggs in preparation for a meal.

James Carter, executive chef for the Food Court, has worked his way into the food business after hard economic times hit the country.

Before becoming a chef, Carter worked as a welder for ship yards across the country.

He said he traveled quite a bit but wanted to return home to find a more stable job.

Carter acquired the job at IU Southeast after he tried to switch jobs due to a rough economy.

“I had to switch jobs once the economy fell on hard times,” Carter said. “I knew that job cuts would happen quickly in my profession. I went into food because it was the only job I could get at the time.”

Julie Ingram, director of Conference and Dining Services, said Carter is friendly.

“I like Jim,” Ingram said. “He is very approachable. The students who work with him get taught how to do things the right way. He wants them to learn while working.”

After stumbling into the food business, Carter said it allowed him to expand his creativity in the kitchen.

“I’m completely self-taught,” Carter said. “That allows for some screw-ups in the kitchen. I’m [American Culinary Federation] certified, and I’ve taken a few classes on sanitation and what-not. Other than that, though, I’ve learned everything just by doing it.”

Before working at IU Southeast, Carter returned home to find work and landed a job at The Phoenix Hill Tavern in Louisville.

While working there as a cook, Carter said he learned things that would help him later on as a chef.

After working there for three days, Carter was helping out when the chef did not show up for work. Carter took over and after six months, was running the kitchen.

Carter also worked at a restaurant called the Crow’s Nest. He took the job offer from a friend and became a cook, moving up when employees began to leave.

Carter started to take over the business once he became head chef.

Carter said the job at IU Southeast is different because of the students.

“It’s a little more flexible working here,” Carter said. “It’s nice to be able to create different dishes and figure out what works and what doesn’t as far as what people like.”

Ingram and Carter also work together with the new Food Court text line.

Students and faculty can text in their own comments about the food or service at the Food Court. Both good and bad comments are read and taken into consideration.

“He’s taken the feedback well from the text line,” Ingram said. “Students have to tell us how we’re doing, whether it is good or bad. If they don’t tell us, then we don’t know their opinions.”

Carter’s son, Madison Carter, journalism freshman, said it is nice to see his father on campus every day.

“I really enjoy seeing my dad on a daily basis,” Madison Carter said. “Plus, it’s fun to give him a little harsh criticism on all the food. We’ve always been close.”