Karen Blockman Carrier’s restaurants and cuisine reflect herself – vibrant, robust, funky, filled with energy and imagination.” The James Beard Foundation
Karen Blockman Carrier has been a personal chef to such Hollywood big shots as Tom Cruise and Susan Sarandon. But in Memphis this chef is a bona fide celebrity in her own right – she’s on so many magazine covers you’d think she was promoting her latest blockbutster. The way to Memphis’ heart is through its stomach and Carrier’s innovative restaurants and one–of-a –kind cooking style is what makes her a star. Like a surprising number of contemporary chefs, Carrier began her working life as an artist. She earned her BFA in painting fro The Memphis Academy of Art and while working on her MFA in NYC she had a chance encounter in the restroom of The Lone Star Café.
A struggling art student mentioned her love of cooking and lack of money, The other woman, one of New York’s top chefs, was in need of help. The two exchanged names, the student promised to start work the next day and Karen carrier never returned to graduate school.
In 1986 Carrier opened Automatic Slims “One Bar Under a Groove”, a Memphis-meets-Manhattan juke joint in Greenwich Village, which she still owns today. Like all good Southerners, she eventually returned home to Memphis to start a family, and plant the seeds for a restaurant empire.
Another Roadside Attraction Catering was her first southern venture, followed by Automatic Slims Tonga Club in downtown Memphis; (Carrier sold this restaurant after 17 years in 2008). In 2002 Carrier opened her flagship restaurant The Beauty Shop, then Mollie Fontaine Lounge (formerly Cielo) and Bar DKDC ( formerly do Sushi + Noodles) . When Carrier opened her first Memphis Restaurant it brought a breath of big city eccentricity and sophistication to downtown Memphis.
Her restaurants quickly made in roads into the city’s appetites with her ambitious cooking combining big Southern and international flavors. It’s what Food and Wine Magazine described as “in your face cooking; imaginative and full of surprises”.
Carrier has gained numerous accolades:
Memphis Magazine 35 Big Ones: 35 Most influential Memphians Over the Last 35 Years link >
Memphian: The Book, A Celebration of the Best, The Brightest and the Most Colorful
Wild Abundance: Ritual, Revelry & Recipes of the South’s Finest Hunting Clubs link >
Bon Appetit The Hot 10 Best New Asian Noodle Bars link >
Tennessee Society of Entrepreneurs Inductee link >
Condé Nast Traveler Magazine Top 75 New Restaurants From Boston to Beijing
Distinguished Restaurateur of the Year Award
…and numerous others.
Carrier was honored to be asked to cook at The James Beard House on two different occasions.
Karen Blockman Carrier – from art student to artist, prep cook to chef; designer to restaurateur has been creating indifferent mediums for over 25 years. In all endeavor this chef, entrepreneur, generates art and innovation. Though a nice Jewish girl who was raised on kosher cuisine, her culinary influences are far removed from just brisket and matzo ball soup.