KAREN BLOCKMAN CARRIER
- “Karen Blockman Carrier’s restaurants and cuisine
reflect herself – vibrant, robust, funky, filled with
energy and imagination.”
The James Beard Foundation
Karen Blockman Carrier has been a personal chef to such Hollywood big
shots as Tom Cruise and Susan Sarandon. But in Memphis this chef is a
bona fide celebrity in her own right – she’s on so many magazine covers,
you’d think she was promoting her latest blockbuster. The way to Memphis’
heart is through its stomach, and Carrier’s innovative restaurants and
one-of-a-kind cooking style is what makes her a star. Like a surprising
number of contemporary chefs, Carrier began her working life as an artist.
She earned her BFA in painting from The Memphis Academy of Art and
while working on her MFA in NYC she had a chance encounter in the
restroom of The Lone Star Café. A struggling art student mentioned her
love of cooking and lack of money. The other woman, one of New York’s
top chefs, was in need of help. The two exchanged names, the student
promised to start work the next day and Karen Carrier never returned to
- In 1986 Carrier opened Automatic Slims “One Bar Under a Groove”;
a Memphis meets Manhattan Juke Joint in Greenwich Village. Like all good
Southerners, she eventually returned home to Memphis to start a family
and plant the seeds for a restaurant empire.
Another Roadside Attraction Catering was her first southern venture,
followed by Automatic Slims Tonga Club in Downtown Memphis,
(Carrier sold this restaurant after 17 years in 2008), The Beauty Shop Restaurant
+ Lounge, do Sushi + Noodles and her latest addition –
The Mollie Fontaine Lounge. When Carrier opened her first Memphis restaurant
it brought a breath of big city eccentricity and sophistication to Downtown Memphis. Her
restaurants quickly made inroads into the city’s appetites with her ambitious cooking combining
big Southern and international flavors. It’s what Food and Wine Magazine described as “in your
face cooking; imaginative and full of surprises”.
Karen Blockman Carrier; from art student to artist, prep cook to chef; designer to restauranteur –
has been creating in different mediums for over 25 years. In all endeavors this chef, entrepreneur,
generates art and innovation. Though a nice Jewish girl who was raised on kosher food, her culinary
influences are far removed from brisket and matzo ball soup.
- Twenty years ago Dana Baldwin made a road trip to Memphis from New
York City to see Graceland, fell in love and never left. Dana was introduced
to Karen Carrier by mutual friends and began her career with Another
Roadside Attraction in 1988. Dana’s food background started in
3rd grade when she used to play restaurant with her friends. She played
the part of hostess, waitress and cook, serving Campbell’s soup and frozen
pizza to her much adoring audience. Her love of the restaurant business
came from watching her father tirelessly open and run restaurants
Dana started as a server with Another Roadside Attraction, then advanced
to Kitchen Manager, Chef and General Manager. In 1991 Dana went with
Carrier to open Automatic Slim’s. Pregnant with twins, Dana returned
to Another Roadside Attraction later that year and took the reigns.
Dana is the Heart and Soul of Another Roadside Attraction.
Her attention to detail, ability to listen to a clients needs, creative
license and keeping a cool head has kept Dana at the top of her game.
Twenty five years and many stories later…