Some people say never go into business with family. However, for Charleston natives Sameka Jenkins and ‘Emma M. Cromedy, being sisters and business partners is working out great. Jenkins picked up cooking as a way to share her Lowcountry roots with friends in college, while Cromedy got her start baking in an Easy Bake Oven when she was only eight years old. After separate careers, they’ve come together under the name Carolima’s Lowcountry Cuisine (pronounced like the state), to provide Gullah cuisine to food lovers in the area.
Cromedy always wanted to go to culinary school, but first attended a four-year college at her mother’s request. At the height of food truck mania in 2011, Cromedy, then living in Charlotte, NC, opened the first mobile dessert truck in the city, serving cupcakes and other treats. Jenkins started in corporate America before opening her own catering business in their hometown. After starting a family, Cromedy moved back to Charleston and combined forces with her sister to make cravable, South Carolina cuisine.
“An experience with Carolima’s is like an experience eating with us. We want to make sure everyone feels like family and they get the same quality of food that we eat in our family gatherings,” Cromedy says. This means classic Southern dishes like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, pound cakes and even collard green egg rolls.
Though the Gullah culture the sisters grew up with is unique to the Lowcountry of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, many dishes are eaten throughout the South. “What would make a difference for us,” Cromedy explained, “is we’re not individuals that came here and jumped on the bandwagon of the shrimp and grits and red rice and all of that. We’re locals, so we’re serving you family recipes.”
Carolima’s is a go-to caterer for destination bachelorette parties and weddings in Charleston, as well as events for locals who crave comfort food. Since the onset of the pandemic, Carolimas has hosted over 50 virtual cooking classes, the videos from which can be found on their Facebook page. They’ve released an e-book of party recipes, and started shipping some of their famous desserts, including Charleston Chewies and Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies, nationwide. Carolima’s Dessert Boutique, which is housed in a 1978 Shasta Camper that Cromedy couldn’t resist purchasing, is also back on the streets.
Carolima’s seasonal and locally sourced dishes have attracted lots of attention over the years. The sisters recently filmed part of a Juneteenth special with the Food Network and blogger Black Southern Belle that’s slated to air June 19th. They will also be participating in the Lowcountry Local First Chef’s Potluck for the first time this year. The picnic event features some of the best restaurants in Charleston, and Carolima’s picnic basket of fried chicken, orzo salad and shrimp salad croissants is sure to please.
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