Chef Kareen Linton’s Culinary Journey is About More Than Food

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Kareen LintonChef Kareen Linton has been busy cooking up a successful career. As CEO/founder/executive Chef of The Linton Group LLC, Linton has been garnering major attention and accolades. In June 2016, Chef Linton was elected Vice President of the American Culinary Federation Atlanta Chefs Association making her the first female and Caribbean American to have this position. “If you look at the history of the food industry, for a very long time it’s been men–from the kitchen to the higher up positions. And while I didn’t set out to be the first female, I was shocked when they told me I was,” she says. “But I do feel I was called into this industry to shed light. I am not rebellious, but I feel it’s time to get things done. If you want something done, you call a woman–nothing against men,” Linton adds with a hearty laugh.

She also made history when she was named the Global Hospitality Ambassador for Come See TV International and was also selected as one of the top Barbadians living abroad. Chef Linton has been inducted into two prestigious international gastronomy organizations–The La Chaine des Rotisseurs and the Disciples of Escoffier International-USA, the highest and most elite order of chefs.

Based in Dallas, Georgia, The Linton Group specializes in hospitality through culinary travel, which includes The Chef’s Table on location. Although Linton, who is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and was a Culinary Educator at her alumni, seems to be golden, it took her a while to figure out her path.

A young mother at age 16, Linton, at first, thought fashion was her passion. And while she was very successful–as a fashion designer and stylist she dressed such celebrities as LL Cool J, music producer Teddy Riley, and Michael Jordan–she wasn’t fully satisfied. “There was something missing,” Linton shares. “The funny thing is my mother was a chef, but I didn’t actually want to be a chef because as a kid I saw how tough it was. But after being in fashion, I could not figure out what my mission was. I started searching for what it was and at one point I entered the ministry. While in church I heard a voice that said ‘Your ministry is outside these walls.’ Then one day while I was talking to two elderly church women, I heard the voice again and it said ‘Feed the people’.”

Linton took action fast. “I took some money and I would cook food and I would call around to organizations and say I was bringing food. They thought I was a little crazy, but I knew I was on the right path. Then my sister’s death in 2005 really, really propelled me to move forward on the path,” she recalls.

Still, she had to convince herself.  “I had to fight with myself; here I was 51 years old and while I truly believe that God had shown me the part where I would lose everything and not have any money, I would have asked God to give me a different path. But now looking back, it was tough but this is what I am supposed to be doing.”

What Linton found along the way was that all of her experiences came together when she needed them to. “You know what’s funny? My first job at age 18 was at Windows on the World in the the World Trade Towers, and it was there that I first heard about the culinary school Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, and five years ago that was where I went–and then later taught at,” says Linton. “But when I entered the school, I had very little money. I knew, however, this was what I had to do. I had $9 in my pocket and I was sitting in my hotel room in Florida praying when a friend called to say she would pay for my room for a week. This gave me room to breath to figure out things.” And figures things out Linton did. She excelled at the school and, six months later, was inducted into her first culinary organization.

For Linton, her culinary career is a way for her to help others. “Food is my vehicle and it has allowed me to go to so many locales and to help so many people.  Once I took my focus off of getting this or getting that and I put the focus on helping other people, things just seemed to fall into place.”