Vita Watson '95
MVCC Culinary Arts graduate Vita Watson
cooks up success from scratch
By Katie Voce
Vita Watson ’95 grew up in Barbados, a place where it was normal to grow and raise your own food. When she was 16 she began playing around in the kitchen at her mother’s recommendation.
“My mom told me, ‘You need to learn how to cook because you eat too much, and you’re going to go hungry if you don’t,’” Watson says with a laugh.
Ever since taking that advice to heart, Watson has been in a kitchen with a love for cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients.
“I did a lot of traveling and I did a lot of exciting things in my life, so that was fun,” she says. “Then in 1988, I came to Utica because I wanted a little quiet place, and this was it.”
For a while, Watson cooked in local restaurants, but cooked out of her home for others, as well.
“Somebody said go back to school and get a piece of paper to go along with your talent and then it would work out really well, so I took that suggestion and went back to school,” Watson says.
She graduated from MVCC in 1995 with an associate degree in Culinary Arts Management and a certificate in Chef Training. She says MVCC was a good choice for a single mother of three, and convenient since she lived right on the bus line.
In 2008, Watson went on vacation to Barbados, and ended up staying there for four years to work as a chef in a health clinic run by her niece. After returning to Utica, co-owners Jake Davis and Emmie Pizarro asked her to be a part of what has become Emmie’s Global Cuisine – a restaurant on Bank Place serving up Asian- and Caribbean-inspired food.
Since the restaurant’s opening in May 2015, business has picked up tremendously.
“Business was really slow at first, but then people came in, and came back, and they brought others,” she says. “It has been really exciting to see because nobody likes to fail.”
Watson attributes their success to the uniqueness and quality of their food. She makes everything from scratch from fresh ingredients.
“Anybody can take stuff out of a box,” she says. “We don’t even have a microwave in here.”
Watson says her 13-hour days can feel more like five, but loves cooking for people and seeing her food put smiles on her customers’ faces.
“It’s what I enjoy doing,” she says.