Chef Sam Diminich is probably best known as the personal chef to Carolina Panthers stud running back, Christian McCaffrey.
And in 2020, even he beat Bobby Flay on the TV show Beat Bobby Flay that airs the Food Network. But soon, he will fulfill a lifelong dream and open a restaurant of his own, Restaurant Constance (named after his daughter), in west Charlotte, hopefully by the fall 2022.
But, his story to get to this point might surprise you.
According to Axios Charlotte, he started drinking and using drugs as a teenager when he worked at his parents Italian restaurant in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. One night, after he graduated High School in 1994, his dad signed him up for a two-year culinary program at Harry Georgetown Tech in Conway, SC to give him some direction.
After graduating and working for a while, Same relapsed in 2009 after being abstinent from drugs and alcohol for several years when he was prescribed opiates for an injury.
He spiraled from there, eventually becoming homeless on the streets of Charlotte in 2013. He couch surfed and lived on the streets of West Charlotte, and during that time, was using opiates, heroin, crack in addition to alcohol.
In 2014, he was brutally assaulted after being accused of being an undercover cop, where he spent a week in the hospital with a 3rd degree concussion, a separated shoulder and 13 staples and other injuries. As soon as he was released from the hospital, he was back in the streets with nowhere to go.
He was afraid he wouldn’t survive another attack like that again, so he decided to call his parents:
“I didn’t want to die, so I called my parents.”
At age 38, he entered a rehab facility in Sumter, SC, which was the first day of his ultimate sobriety. After six months, he left the facility with just $260 to his name and a new outlook on life. He wanted to get back to Charlotte to be closer to his kids, who were still pretty young at the time, but the timing wasn’t quite right yet.
After seeing an ad for a position at a fine dining restaurant in Sumter, SC, he ended up getting a job there. The only problem was that he had to relearn everything after being out of work so long dealing with his addiction problem:
“I had nothing. I went to Walmart to get shoes, and I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and bought the shittiest knife I’ve ever had.”
Eventually, after a lot of hard work, he was able to use his end-of-year bonus to move back to Charlotte. He found a job there for a few years, but was let go during the beginning of the COVID pandemic in 2020.
So, he decided to start his own company called Your Farms Your Table, where he delivers meals to people using farm fresh ingredients. And, as luck would have it, Christian McCaffrey heard about the company and reached out to Sam about being his personal chef, which he’s done for quite a few years now.
And recently, Sam announced his plans to open his new restaurant just one mile from where he used to be homeless and using drugs and alcohol, which is just unreal in and of itself.
The journey has been a dream come true for someone who used to literally have nothing, and just goes to show the true value and importance of hard work and determination, regardless of the situation.
It’s hard to imagine the incredible amount of work he’s put in both professionally and personally to get himself to this point, but it’s an absolutely amazing story and example to anyone who has a dream to do more with their life.
And he still has to pinch himself everyday because he can’t believe that this is his life now:
“I pinch myself every day… sometime’s multiple times a day.”