photograph by Anagram Photo

hen it comes to great food, the talented hands that create it matter far more than fancy equipment. That sentiment was especially true of the late, great Mildred “Mama Dip” Council’s airy biscuits. Council, who died in May 2018 at age 89, grew up on a Chatham County farm cooking for her large family by making the best use of what she had available. When she opened her Chapel Hill restaurant, Dip’s Country Kitchen (now Mama Dip’s Kitchen), in 1976, she kept the same philosophy — even after people like The New York Times’s Craig Claiborne and basketball legend Michael Jordan started beating a path to her door for Southern cooking done to perfection.

Today, many of Council’s descendants carry on her food legacy, whether it’s by writing and cooking, as her granddaughter Erika Council does in Atlanta with her Southern Soufflé blog and biscuit pop-up dinners, or by working at the restaurant.

One of Council’s daughters, Spring, who helps run the restaurant, says that her sister Lane makes the biscuits in the same practical way as their mother. She uses the same biscuit cutter, too: a small, empty can with the ends cut out — “like you get in the grocery store,” Spring says. “She has biscuit cutters with the handle, but that handle would just fall off, and this works great. And if it gets bent or dented, throw it away and get another.” 

As Mama Dip herself often said, spend what money you have on the best ingredients. Then, grab a biscuit-size can and get baking.

Mama Dip’s Kitchen
408 West Rosemary Street,
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

(919) 942-5837

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Debbie Moose is a food columnist for the News & Observer in Raleigh. Her latest cookbook, Southern Holidays, is part of the Savor the South series from UNC Press.