The previous Entrance Porch chef takes his kitchen onto the road in a meals truck

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Shirley’s boy, Ken Huddleson, knew he had to put his priorities in order.

In doing so, he has to leave his comfort zone.

After serving several years as the head chef at The Front Porch in Powell, Huddleson left to take over the kitchen at the Main Event in Knoxville. Last winter he came to the conclusion that running a kitchen somewhere is not conducive to the family life he envisioned.

“I want to be busy with my kids,” said Huddleson of his 10-year-old son and daughter, 13. “You just can’t do that as a kitchen manager.”

Instead, Huddleson became his own boss. He took his recipes – especially the chicken ‘n dumplings – popular at The Front Porch and opened his own food truck: Shirley’s Boy Country Cooking.

Chef answers a tough boss

The name of the trailer, which looks more like a tiny house than a food truck, is in honor of Huddleson’s mother who first brought it into the kitchen.

“My mother died when I was 10,” said Huddleson. “She first brought me into the kitchen, then my stepmother helped me develop my passion for cooking.”

Huddleson said when he was 5 years old his father would take him to the machine shop where he worked.

“At lunchtime the old ‘Roachen trainer’ came up and served the workers,” he said. “Since then, I’ve always wanted a food truck.”

After taking the plunge, Huddleson also took on the responsibility of working for a tough boss: for himself.

One of Ken Huddleson's favorite sandwiches to make is this

“I don’t feel trapped,” he said. “If something needs to be done, it’s up to me. Food preparation. Clean up. The ball is with me. It’s my job to get the ball rolling. “

It’s Huddleson’s job, too, to make sure he has a place to sell his food. That means reaching out to those responsible for festivals and events to secure a place for yourself, which is not really in his personality.

Huddleson’s typical dish

It is not human contact that is unnatural to Huddleson. In fact, he lives from the feedback from his customers.

“I try to give my twist to everything I do,” said Huddleson. “I like it when I can give someone the food and they say, ‘Wow, that’s ridiculously stupid!'”

Customers Ashley Godsey, left, and Jennifer McGhee enjoy their time in the food truck.

That was the answer he got from his signature article, Chicken ‘n Dumplings. His wife Brittany took the time to plan the food choices for three weeks so there were new items every day. However, the ever-popular chicken ‘n dumplings will almost always be available.

“It’s made from the ground up with pure love,” said Huddleson, without revealing any secrets.

“I’ve done it 500 times. I want to get to a point where I can retail it fresh. “

Of course, there are some weird combinations Huddleson found that work together. Combine the mandarin slices with the cayenne pepper and sugar, shake and place on a salad.

“Trust me, it’s good,” said Huddleson.

Ken Huddleson has a new domain, Shirley's Boy Country Cooking Food Truck.

Huddleson said he plans to be at the Powell Food Truck for breakfast a few days a week (lemon-blueberry french toast and cookies and gravy are specialties) while spending the rest of his calendar around his son’s football trips (where he can) furnish his tiny house and sell food at games).

“I’ve worked full-time since I was 14, putting money in someone else’s pocket,” said Huddleson. “I like the fact that I don’t have to strike a time clock now.”