About Good Home Cookin'

Carmen S. Carbone, Chef

Carmen S. Carbone, Chef and Owner of Good Home Cookin' Personal Chef and Catering Service has wanted to be chef and own a business in the food industry for as long as he can remember.

Carmen was only 6 years old when his mom and “Aunt” Frannie were full into a holiday baking frenzy in his aunt's Northeast Philadelphia home. He scouted the kitchen for something to do. Spying a 25-pound bag of flour within reach, he stuck both hands deep into the powdery bag, announcing proudly, “Look, Mom! I'm washing my hands.”

He may have been joking around then, but over time Carmen developed a serious interest in learning how to cook. As the youngest he often had no choice but to go along with his mom to PTA functions. He spent many hours watching her in school and church kitchens wowing the nuns and other moms with how well she managed to pull together a big event. Eventually he started helping out.

Good Home Cookin' started at home
Carmen remembers walking home from Queen of Heaven elementary school, whiffs of his mother's good cooking greeting him blocks from home.

“As soon as I rounded the corner onto our street the aroma of whatever my mom had decided to cook that day would have caught the wind and wafted up the street. I hurried home to the smell of Mom’s spaghetti gravy, or cookies, or pumpkin bread.”

By the time he was 10, Carmen and his mother were daydreaming about opening their own little restaurant or pizzeria. A couple of years later when his mom had to seek employment outside their home, Carmen took advantage of any excuse to help her in the kitchen, especially around the holidays. Cooking or baking, he was at her side.

When Carmen was a senior at Camden Catholic High School, he took Home Economics as an elective and discovered his creative flair. Carmen says, “That’s where I started to experiment with flavor combinations.” He was falling in love with the art of cooking.

Carmen says:

  The name and mission statement were the final pieces to take shape … when my wife Lynda nudged me to get off my duff and make positive moves toward my dream.

   

                      Lynda

   “Over and over again, Lynda and I talked about numerous options and approaches.  Finally one day (with an edge in her voice)  she told me to just make up my mind what it is I wanted to do. With an equal edge I retorted, 'I don’t want to do “pretty” cooking, I just want to be able to give people good home cooking at a fair price. I'm targeting the people who can't afford or don't want the pricey fru fru stuff.  The people big caterers won’t touch because they have under 100 guests. Those are the people - I want to create a nice affair with great food for them'.”

Although he focused on college, then retail management for years, and the automotive industy consumed him for another decade, all along, in his off hours Carmen absorbed just about every show on The Food Network. He seriously toyed with the idea of applying for The Next Food Network Star, but satisfied himself instead by watching any show that had to do with cooking.

The Greats on TV
He watched Jacques Pepin, The Frugal Gourmet, Julia Child, Yan Can Cook, The Great Chefs of Europe, The Great Chefs of New Orleans, and renowned Cajun chef Justin Wilson, whose tag line “Aye Garrrontee!” sticks with him yet. Carmen mentions Graham Kerr, known as The Galloping Gourmet, “He ended each episode with the BIGGEST glass of red wine I ever saw.”

One year when Carmen attended Philadelphia's annual “The Book and the Cook” event, he not only met The Frugal Gourmet himself, and his faithful assistant Greg, but he had Jeff Smith autograph his own well-worn copy of “The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American.”

2006
In 2006 Carmen told his wife Lynda he had made a decision. “This year I am start working toward my own catering business.”

Carmen got busy. Over the next couple of years, nights and weekends he outlined his business plan, made judicious kitchen equipment purchases and he enrolled in Ashworth University. He completed the Professional Gourmet Cooking and Catering Program, earning his diploma with a 4.0 GPA. Next came licensing and ServeSafe certification.

Carmen and Lynda, their two sons and Mia their golden retriever reside in Lindenwold, NJ. Whenever he can squeeze it in, Carmen loves to wet a line and reel in some flounder for dinner. He is Chief Engineer of a beloved HO line that chugs around a tiny village every Christmas.