Shelley Cooper was born in Memphis, Tennessee, into a family that revolved around a bountiful table always filled with farm fresh Southern cuisine. Her maternal family hails from the Mississippi Delta, and her father from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. She credits this combination with providing her Southern culinary roots. Both families placed a high regard for fresh, seasonal, and ‘made from scratch’ foods, as well as instilling the appreciation of pure simple ingredients. Shelley could not help but to be positively affected by such inherent passion.
She was professionally trained at Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute in Charleston, South Carolina and The San Francisco Baking Institute. Chef Shelley honed her craft at Belfair Club in Hilton Head, South Carolina, 30° Blue at Bay Point Resort in Florida, Craggy Range Winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, First and Hope Supper Club in Los Angeles, Alaska Expedition on the Gulf of Alaska, Monettes Artisan Seafood on the big island of Hawaii, and TerraMáe Appalachian Bistro in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Now she is tapping into her true roots and fully embracing her heritage at Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro in Townsend, Tennessee. The culmination of her life travels and culinary passion have merged to create her unique version of highbrow Appalachian fare.
Some of her career highlights include:
• Recipe testing / editing Great Chefs of the South Cookbook series on PBS
• Recipe testing / editing Charleston Cuisine Cookbook
• Cover of Bon Appetite in 1997 featured in ‘Pastry Chefs at Play’
• Food Arts spotlight story September 1998, ‘New Digs in Old Charleston
• Good Housekeeping Magazine, June 2005, ‘Grill Girls’
• Food and Wine Magazine, September 2010 ‘Where to Go Next: Southern’
• Youngest board member of Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA)
• Formerly the Chef at TerraMáe while it was named “…one of Chattanooga’s buzziest new
restaurants” – Travel + Leisure 2013
• TerraMáe cited by The New York Times magazine as “where to eat” in the “outdoorsy” and “cool”
• Mentioned in Fodors “A Foodie’s Guide to Chattanooga” 2013