'Faith of a mustard seed' led chef to Carrollton

Michael Perkins is chef at Carrollton’s Mustard Seed Cafe. His daughter, Kaia, is a waitress at the Maple Street restaurant.

Michael Perkins was serving as a missionary in Nicaragua in 2013 when he and his family experienced the trauma of a home invasion and being held hostage.

Today, he is the chef at Carrollton’s Mustard Seed Café, located at City Station on Maple Street.

“After the home invasion, we reinforced the security around our house and stayed another five years,” he explained.

“Then one day, we were shopping in a grocery store, and my wife, Lisa, saw a group of people who she thought were Americans. They had some Nicaraguan kids with them,” Perkins explained.

“One of the kids was asking for ‘leche,” which is Spanish for ‘milk’, so Lisa translated for them.”

A conversation ensued with what was a missionary group from Southern Hills Church in Carrollton, during which the Perkins shared his restaurant background. Contact information was exchanged, and a short time later, the Perkins were invited by leadership at the church to make the 3,000-mile journey to Carrollton and to open a restaurant in the church’s City Station complex on Maple Street.

Perkins credits his wife for the name of the restaurant — Mustard Seed Café.

“At our restaurant in Redmond, Oregon prior to going to Nicaragua, Lisa said it was going to take the ‘faith of a mustard seed’ to make it work,” Perkins said, “so when we moved to Nicaragua, we called the restaurant there the same name. And now obviously in Carrollton as well.”

The phrase comes from Matthew 17:20, in which Christ says that if one has faith equivalent to the size of mustards seed — one of the tiniest seeds that exist — one has immense power; enough, according to the Scripture, to move mountains.

Perkins not only serves as chef, but grows many of the vegetables on his menu at a farm in Bowdon where his father-in-law lives.

While he runs the kitchen, his 21-year old daughter, Kaia, is a waitress and is in charge of the front of the house at the restaurant. When she was two-years old, she peeled shrimp at the restaurant the family then owned.

“Kaia is involved in some interesting activities away from the restaurant,” Perkins noted.

“She sometimes works as an extra in movies filming around Atlanta. In fact, she worked in ‘Richard Jewell,’ a movie about the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Clint Eastwood [who directed the movie] called her ‘Miss America’ when he saw her.”

Kaia, who played an injured victim of the blast ignited by Eric Rudolph’s pipe bomb, had her face painted with an American flag.