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Wednesday, Sep 22, 2021

Carl: The Man, The Chef, The Legend

It is only a few minutes past noon, and Mercer University’s Farmer’s Market is nearly filled to the brim.

The movement inside is chaotic. People are looking for their friends. People are rushing to class. People are inexplicably caught up in their own lives and their own schedules.

That is, until they step into the grill line.  A singular man, at the end of the line, intently leans over a hot grill as he cooks.

Every day, Carl McCoy serves hundreds of students in Mercer University’s Farmer’s Market. Some will only see the plates he hands them.

Others have noticed his meticulous style and passionate focus has caught the attention of many students who stand in line.

Every day, Carl McCoy serves hundreds of students in Mercer University’s Farmer’s Market.

“His technique was really what made me stop and watch him,” said Maddie Reece, a freshman and self-proclaimed fan of Carl’s. “You can just tell he cares about what he’s doing.”

At the grill, Carl is focused and in command. Every detail and ingredient is organized and at his disposal. Sitting down to talk, Carl is less confident. His strong composure fades to reveal a quiet voice and a kind smile.

“I’ve loved cooking ever since I was 12 years old” Carl said with a grin. As a self-taught chef, his first training took place at home. "I’d sit up by my mother at the stove and watch what she did,” he said.

One thing that is immediately clear is that Carl’s family is incredibly important to him.

“My main focus is taking care of my family,” he said. “If my wife and kids are okay, I’m okay.”

With two kids and a wife at home, Carl is busier than any student could’ve guessed. “I get up around 5:30 in the morning,” Carl explained. “The kids are getting ready for school, and I’m getting ready for work.”

Given that Carl must commute nearly an hour to work each morning, his passion for cooking is a driving source of motivation.

“I have always loved cooking,” Carl said.

But Carl wasn’t always the chef people know and love.

“I always was a barber,” Carl revealed. The differences between being a barber and being a chef didn’t seem to strike him as much as the similarities did.

“Either or, it’s all about making people happy,” Carl said.  “People always need their hair cut, and they always need to eat.”

If they’re going to eat Carl’s food, he’s going to make sure it’s good.[pullquote speaker="Carl McCoy" photo="" align="left" background="on" border="all" shadow="on"]Either or, it’s all about making people happy.[/pullquote]

“I love serving the students,” Carl said, “I love when someone tells me that the food is good.” He uses those compliments as motivation to keep him cooking.

Looking towards the future is another of Carl’s passions.  

“I want to open my own restaurant,” He said.

‘Soul food’ would be his ideal focus, but hasn’t set anything in stone. For now, Carl is perfectly content right where he is.

“I love working at Mercer and with the students.”

Carl’s final advice to Mercer students was heartfelt and reflected in his own life. “Whatever you do, do it with passion,” he said. “I cook with passion, and it tastes better.”


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