By Evan Casey
Carolyn Smith of Karol’s Kitchen and Catering grew up around food, so naturally, when she had the chance to open up her own food truck, she took it. She quit her former job, and jumped into a truck to cook her favorite food for the entire city of Milwaukee.
“I decided that I wanted to be self-employed for the rest of my life,” said Smith. “This is something I’ve wanted for so long. I love expressing myself through my food and I also get pleasure from the response I get from the customers.”
Carolyn grew up with her aunt teaching her how to cook and bake. Her family owned restaurants in her hometown of Gary, Indiana, so food became a part of her life and heritage. She started cooking cakes and cookies at a young age.
“Cooking at Thanksgiving and Christmas was always a treat,” recalls Smith. “We would prep the food like the cornbread dressing, the baked ham, the turkey and all of the desserts were to die for. We would decorate the house nice and festive as we would pull out the fine china and all. So many memories.”
Smith decided to resign from her former job as the food service director at a nursing home just last year. She took all her money and put it into her new business, buying a food truck located in Iowa. She named the truck Karol’s Kitchen with a K so it was different from her name and she set out to the streets of Milwaukee just two months ago.
Karol’s Kitchen and Catering serves up a menu of chicken, catfish, burgers, ribs and even provides vegan options as well. Carolyn’s specialty is soul food.
“I wanted to do something different from what everyone else was doing so I started with the catfish and chicken wings,” she says.
She started off by parking her truck off of Sherman and Capital, but has since been invited to local events and business parks all across the city. Smith was “thrilled” when she started getting such a good response. She has been going out 4-5 times a week, and even has a benefit event she will be attending later in the month.
In a day and age where food trucks have been popping up everywhere, Smith believes her truck is different. “Because I sell a different food and I put my signature on pretty much everything,” says Smith.
Karol’s Kitchen and Catering can be found on Facebook and Roaming Hunger. She is frequently at Hoyt Park in Wauwatosa.