by Sheryl Marlar
When Carol McWhorter graduated from West Georgia in 1974 with an art education degree, she did the next logical thing—she taught high school art for several years.
Eventually, she wanted something more, something of her own. So she opened her own art gallery on the square in downtown Carrollton. Clayworks Gallery was her first venture, bringing in art from all over the country, representing at least 150 different artists over a 10-year period.
Unfortunately, economic times forced the closure of the gallery.
“Art is one of those things you can do without when money is tight,” McWhorter said.
McWhorter began working as a wedding planner after closing the art gallery. After several years, she and her partner, Rob Douglas, began to concoct ideas of something they could do together that would include travel and being their own boss.
With her background in art, and his as a chef for 30 years, the idea of a mobile kitchen was born. They’ve been at it for only a short time, but they’re having lots of fun and are excited about future opportunities.
Read on about their whole new lifestyle.
Question: Tell us more about the mobile kitchen, Renegade Chef. What makes this experience different from any other restaurant experience or carry out?
Answer: The freedom is the number one experience for us. With our motto being “no boundaries,” we can create our own menu. We can change it, and we can choose where we go. Right now we’re choosing special events. We have a built-in audience, and they do all the advertising for us. It’s freedom, just the two of us. We don’t answer to anyone. It’s an opportunity to do things exactly the way we want to.
Q: How does having an art degree translate into this mobile kitchen business?
A: Well, there’s still a lot of creativity here, it’s just not the same as visual arts or teaching art. It’s coming up with menus and the advertising. There are a few opportunities for artistic expression as well; we created our own logo. Right now we’re in the process of creating some southern flag banners that we want to use for promotion.
Q: What do you enjoy most about this business and being an entrepreneur in general?
A: It’s a challenge, and it’s a little bit scary. It took us several months to obtain the required permits and licenses. We had the trailer custom made exactly the way we wanted it. Huge rewards come when you check off each item. When we did our first event, it was totally satisfying to buy that food, turn around and prep it and have happy customers.
Q: Are you hoping to grow the menu, or are you satisfied with what you’re selling now?
A: Yes, we eventually plan to do that. Right now, we’re learning as we go, working with what foods are in season. Our menu is flexible and will vary as we go forward. Currently, we’re focusing on beef.
Q: What advice would you give a UWG student who is interested in being an entrepreneur? Maybe the art student who thinks his career opportunities are in the field.
A: There are so many different opportunities. When I worked for the wedding planner, I relied on my art background every single day. I was also the cultural arts director for Carroll County. Everything I’ve ever done in my life, my art background comes through.Posted on