Imagine, if you will, Paula Deen with a couple of tattoos.
Now, imagine her behind the wheel of a semi, hauling 100,000 pounds down a two-lane back road as a vegetable stand pops up in the distance.
Just like Paula Deen would, Camille Pask gets on the brakes and whoas it down. It’s more than curiosity or a chance to break the boredom of the long rolls over the road; it’s a time to pick up something awesome for lunch.
Pask is a rare woman in many respects. She drives more than 100,000 miles a year as a long haul trucker, but she’s also a trained gourmet chef. The worlds intersect in the back of the cab of her rig, which she co-owns with her new beau, Chris Woolf.
There’s not much of a food selection when you’re driving down an interstate at 4 a.m. Pull into any truck stop and you’ll see a group of largely overweight dudes, slurping coffee and downing subs and donuts.
But if you step outside, blended into the diesel fumes, you might just breathe in the delectable aroma of seared ahi. It’s coming from the Swift rig where Pask, a 33-year-old who began her over the road career four years ago, is determined to be kinder to her body.
“I got so sick of eating and paying for really crappy food on the road,” she said recently during a break in her driving schedule. “It’s pretty much 35 bucks every time two butts hit the vinyl.
“There are some good places to eat and you find them along the way. But sometimes it’s hard to park a truck there or a lot of times you don’t even have time to stop.”
She doesn't have much room in the 10-by-10 box she calls home for three weeks each month. She dreams of a day when she can afford a bigger rig, one with a sink - and a shower.
Right now, she’s stuck with a toaster and a tall dorm-sized refrigerator that has a top big enough for a small electric skillet.
She calls herself the Gypsygourmet, in part due to her heritage and in part due to the fact that she spends so much time traveling. She’s been to every state, and jots down the meat markets, food co-operatives and farmers markets where she likes to stop along the way. She's contemplating using these notes to write a book.
The thrice-divorced Pask has been living with Woolf both on the road and off for a few months now. Both were unhappily married when they met: Woolf with a tow truck and Pask with a broken down rig and a breaking heart. Woolf, who was immediately enamored with the voice on the other end of the distress call, was disappointed to see another man (Pask’s now ex-husband) when he showed up at the stranded vehicle.
Then, Pask stepped down from the driver’s side door.
“And it was on from there,” Woolf, 38, said.
Over the next months, there were frequent texts as both unraveled themselves from their relationships and entered into a new one.
“She’s my best friend. She’s my everything,” he said.
They go everywhere together, exploring their love - for each other and for food. Woolf says he wasn’t a foodie before, but with Pask’s guidance, he’s become one. The biggest lesson is how to add just the right seasoning to bring out the flavor of a food.
That’s what made her stick out as a culinary student, said Jim Hanson, who was her instructor years ago at South Central College in North Makato, Minnesota. In her two years in the program, Pask set herself apart from the other students, most of who just wanted to follow the recipe.
“She’s always experimenting,” he said. “I think that’s her strong point. She always wanted to do things just a little bit differently, to try something new.”
Pask says in the kitchen she’s a bit like Deen (“She loves butter as much as I do”), a bit like Guy Fieri with a pinch of Jacques Pepin thrown in. But she also digs Betty Crocker. She grew up in the kitchen of her family restaurant, and a lot of their recipes were based on Betty’s cookbooks.
“Food is love,” she says, a statement that is both subtle and direct. “My greatest memories are with my family in the kitchen, the dining room table or around a chopping block.”
She says for now she’s content on the road, but she longs to share her love of food with more people.
“I really want Anthony Bourdain’s job,” she said with a longing laugh. “I want to travel from place to place and I want to find the coolest places to pick up cool ingredients. And I want to cook for people.”
Great article! I'm slightly put off by the fact that she preps her lunches for sale on her pillow, but we all have to start somewhere! I admire her commitment to healthier and tastier food - let's see her on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives instead of the 45 lb burger, or whatever was on last night. Theresa
Well Gypsy Gourmet, I figure that if you can cook great meals in your big rig I can certainly cook some in my kitchen. Don't pay attention to the bitter snobs posting here. Thank you for a good read ( : P.S. I joined your blog today also. Looking forward to some more great recipes like your seared Ahi
Bravo, great post!
Hey fellow Swifties!! Awesome story, Wishing you nothing but the best. If you see me and my co rider Earl, ( a black and white great dane ) be sure and say hi!
This article is great for the mere fact that she prepares that kind of food in a standard-sized sleeper truck. I have a 132" sleeper with a kitchen, stove, convection oven, fridge, pantry, shower/toilet, etc. and although I cook a LOT (and post some recipes on my blog), I'm not making Seared Ahi Tuna. I used to prepare meals when we were in a smaller truck, but it's very difficult to do because of the lack of space – I used a small travel ironing board for a my "counter top". Clean-up isn't as difficult as one may think, but lack of space is a challenge.
Even though we have a kitchen in our truck, we still go out to eat a lot; just not at truck stops. We travel all over the United States and although we eat in a lot of national chain restaurants (Outback, PF Changs, Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano's, etc.), we also make a point to find interesting (we've hit a few "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" joints) and often high-end places to eat. We love good food and we'll do everything in our power to find parking for our truck – you wouldn't believe how creative we can be.
You can make good choices at truck stops, as they offer everything from salad to grilled chicken and veggies, but often when you sit down after a long day, you just want comfort food – a burger and fries, steak and mashed potatoes, pancakes, etc. We don't eat a lot at the truck stops because we're self-contained – we don't even need to park there and we don't need to eat there. Truck stop food gets old after a while and with our own kitchen and a fully stocked fridge and pantry, I can make almost anything we desire.
I applaud Camille for continuing to indulge her passion for cooking, even while on the road. It's great smelling garlic sautéing, wafting through the air. I've even fed other drivers while waiting to load or unload – one time I cooked for ten drivers; plates of pasta with vodka sauce served up with garlic toast points. Such fun! And good ingredients make a huge difference – I see she has Plugrá butter in one of those photos!
Best of luck to Camille (and Chris) – enjoy your life on the road!
Salena of "The Daily Rant"
33 and already divorced 3 times, and they started their relationship as an affair. How romantic. I can't wait to see how long this lasts.
This may be the one that does last..... Who are we to judge ? People come on here with all their negativity at very sad attempts to ruin someone else's dreams. Some of you people must have nothing better to do than sit at home and play online and be critics of others who are out working and trying to live their dreams. Oh, well, I can't live my dreams so lets see how hard I can try to shatter someone else's !!!!! LOL.... I have to laugh at the mentality of 2/3 of the human race in today's generation. to many haters. Whatever happened to compassion ?
Where in the article did you get that they started off cheating on their respective spouses?
They met while their marriages were on the downside.
You sound a little bitter over something else entirely to me.
I thought it was a great story. Including the happy ending as well as the food story which started it off.
STUPID IT WAS NOT ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP IT WAS ABOUT HER GREAT COOKING MAYBE YOU NEED TO READ THE EPORT AGAIN AND REALLY SEE WHAT IT WAS ABOUT IT WAS NOT ABOUT LOVE
Please Captain CAPLOCK,,,,,,,,I don't need another Headache. Maybe I'll try BC Powder this time.
Bitter, party of one!
Table is ready for Bitter, party of one!
This is "team driving" which means 5 hrs. driving....5 hrs. off or sleeping while under a load. It's the only way to keep a "legal" log book for the DOT. Good luck to you both. I'm still driving and still Love it.
The Road Kill Special!!!!!!!!!!!
I think this is an awesome article and it was written about two VERY AWESOME people that are trying to make the best out of what life has had to offer. They both have been through many trials and tribulations and still continue on with a very positive attitude and loving hearts . They are the kindest people I ever had the pleasure of befriending. So to all of you that want to get on here and show your intelligence and call names, "Don't judge a book by it's cover because you just might be missing out". When will the world learn to quit stereotyping and labeling ? Being a little on the heavy side or having tats and having your ears gaged or any other piercings makes them no less of a person than anyone posting all their smart alec comments with the name calling and stereotyping.
Camille and Chris, I wish you both nothing but the best. You are two awesome people that deserve for all your dreams to come true. Keep up the good work. Don't let ignorance stand in your way of your goals. you are both very talented and head strong. I am behind you in all that you do no matter what anyone else has to say. Love you both. Be safe and see you when you get back to Georgia !!!!!
thats some good cookin there yall Very good.
fat rednecks can cook. YAY!!!
THEY ARE NOT FAT REDNECKS HAVING KNOWN THEM FOR 6 MONTHS FOR NEIGHBORS CAMILLE HAS LOST OVER 30 LBS AND STILL LOSING COOKING THE GREAT MEALS ON THE ROAD YOU NEED TO MEET THEM
Carol, if you really do know them personally, please tell them that I am happy for them (for their relationship). My Dad is a truck driver (has been for WELL over 20 years) so, I know what a Trucker's life means. Without truck-drivers, there'd be nothing in America. <3
I spent five years running wild – 48 states. Never knowing where I was going next. I lived in my increasingly nice trucks for five years. The article just reminds me how happy I am to be off the road for good. I've been to every city in the 48 over and over. No more truck stop showers for me! No more chaining up in the winter. I had a microwave, a refrigerator, a freezer, and two electric burners in my truck; so I did do some good cookin' along the way. Sometimes I would have a multi-course gourmet meal while parked at an abandoned gas station in the middle of Wyoming during a snow storm, or something like that, but overall; I've seen all the road has to offer, and I'm glad I'm off the road for good. No more truckin' for me. I only did half a million miles, and that was plenty!
I don't know how she does it, especially with 2 people in the cab. I really wanted to start cooking in the truck, but just thinking about doing this after 14 hours on duty, without running water, then all the cleanup... All I want to do at the end of the day is get some comfort food and go to bed.
Truck stop food can actually be very healthy if you order the right thing. TA and Pilot have full salad bar, so if you really want to count calories, you can. You can also order grilled chicken salad and such instead of going with the slop selection of the buffet. Whenever I go on the road, I actually end up losing weight.
They could both afford to drop 30 or 40 pounds. Maybe just salads??
THEY HAVE DROP 30 TO 40 LBS REMEMBER IT WAS ABOUT GOOD HEALTHY FOOD ON THE ROAD
Who writes this stuff? Does anyone edit anymore?
Semi-trucks are limited, BY LAW, to a maximum gross weight of 80,000 pounds. There are NO 100,000 pound semi's running around unless they have special permits, extra axles and safety escorts, etc.
DID YOU NOT GET THE STORY IT WAS NOT ABOUT THE WEIGHT OF THE TRUCK "GOURMET FOOD ON 18 WHEELS" YOU SHOULD TRY HER COOKING ITS GREAT!!!!
First class will be "Punctuation for Dummies"
Second class will be "Proper Methods for Posting in Blogs"
Third class will be my boot up your azz because you're too stupid to learn anything.
Have An Ice Day.
Look like a couple of slobs.
Anonymous and baseless armchair judgements, gettem' here.
The article describes two people who are 1) talented 2) innovative and 3) motivated. The world can learn something from them.
REALLY??? AND I GUESS YOU ARE A GOOD HOLY CHRISTIAN THERE TO BUDDY......WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ??? WOW, THE NERVE OF SOME PEOPLE.
Sh-sh-sh. It's too early in the morning for all that shouting. Turn down your caps lock.
She's serving up nice portions of healthy food, it seems. But it also seems from the photo that she and her beau are getting their dietary needs filled at Bucket o' Lard and Fries.
The article states that's how they were eating before, but obviously these pictures show an attempt at improving. I think that's worth something. Especially when you live in a truck. Think that's easy? To maintain physical fitness when you live in a truck and spend up to 11 hours a day, 7 days a week driving? Combine that with the constant temptations of quick, ready-made food at the truck stops, which, after a long day are most definitely temptations.
She may be like my gal. Claims to love cooking but I having seen two meals in five years. Like what you see is what you get.
Props for finding space to cook in that Freightliner. Don't know how you do it. I can barely cram all my bags of groceries in the cab, nonetheless cookware. Seems worth it though after looking at the pictures of those dishes!
Keep on truckin'... and cookin'!
America, This is Why You're Fat™
You mean the lean steak and salad? Wait, you didn't actually look through or read any of it did you... Sad.
Read the story again. This is why America has a high drop out rate for high school. She doesn't eat at fast food places.
Eating may be the reason some people are fat....... What is the excuse for being judgmental and ignorant ?
They need to make their 18 wheeler a rolling restaurant. Convoy catering....She'd do very well, those dishes looked fantastic!
Is that the sign of the devil on her hand in the 1st picture? Hope I'm mistaken.
looks like the circle-A for anarchy...
This was a great read to come home to and start a weekend off. Despite the cramped quarters, the ahi photo made me salivate. I don't know you, but I'm proud of you and the article put a smile on my face. Sad for the man who lost her and congratulations to Woolf...she's one special woman! Keep on rollin' safely to the both of ya'! Cheers from DC.
For someone who seems to cook healthy, they are larger people? Wonder why?
That's what you got out of this? Grow-up.
They are born that way!!! Have you not learned about that by now!!!!
Most people are NOT born fat. That is a common lie people tell themselves to feel better. Diet and exercise can (and do) easily override genetics.
You didn't read it very in depth. She said she was tired of the damage all the usual trucker fare did to her. Obviously, she's trying to better herself. Some people (a-holes) lack that ability.
Because they spend 95% of their life sitting down? Kind of comes with the job.
They are truck drivers. They must sleep during the day and drive at night. That will hurt your body and make it off.
I'm Really Happy for her !!! I like going to the Petro Iron Skillet & Iowa 80 :-)
Hmm.. how bout a nice food truck!
That's my girl. Proud of ya sister. May your dreams all come true, you deserve it.......
Great story...way to go! I wish them both the best of luck. I'm sure they will be successful
thats my girl she talked me into cooking in the truck myself, but now sadly i have to cook all the time my boyfriends arabic and has to have his dishes which is sometimes a pain to find like mulokia. lol i am so proud to see her living her dream and hint hint i think she would really like a good paying job that would make her be home more!!!!!!
Molokhia recipes are super easy actually! Drop a full chicken into boiling water with a chopped up onion and 1 maggie (bouillon) cube. Add white pepper and salt to it. When boiled, pull the chicken out. In a side dish, melt some cow ghee like 2 tablespoons–or olive oil to be healthy–and add 1 large chopped up garlic (you know like 10 cloves)–to salt, pepper, coriander (like 5 tablespoons of coriander) on the side. Drop the molokhia packet (which you can get from any ethnic grocer) in the broth, followed by the garlic thing you just made. Let it boil for 30 minutes. DONE. if you want to know how to make rice, let me know!!
CAMILLE'S DREAM IS TO OWN HER OWN RESTAURANT. I MEET CAMILLE ABOUT 4 MONTHS AGO AS BY NEW NEIGHBOR. AT FIRST I DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO THINK ABOUT A WOMAN TRUCK DRIVER AS A NEIGHBOR. WELL LET ME TELL YOU IT HAS BE A GREAT JOY. SHE HS BECOME MY BEST FREIND AND CHEF WHEN SHE IS AT HOME. NOT ONLY THAT MY DAUGHTER LOVES HER AS A SISTER. SHE HAS TAKEN ASHLEY UNDER HER WING TO HELP WITH GROCERYING SHOPPING AND COOKING NEW 20 MINUTES MEALS. WE LOVE WHEN SHE AND CHRIS IS HOME BECAUSE SHE DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO COOK SMALL MEALS . IT FOR A ARMY. CAMILLE CAN COOK A MEAN CHILL TO A FANCY 4 COUSRE MEAL. ONE DAY THAT DREAM WILL COME TRUE AND SHE WILL HAVE THE FINEST RESTAURANT IN GRIFFIN GEORGIA
Quit shouting, Your giving me a headache.
Learn how to spell. You're giving me gas.
NOT SHOUTING TRYING TO MAKE A POINT TOO IDIOTS LIKE YOU WHO DID NOT GET THE POINT OF THE STORY
Gawd, I Hope we are not related...do you live in Arkansas?
Nope. Under it.
Hello, who did research "imagine her behind the wheel of a semi, hauling 100,000 pounds down a... "
the weight a semi can haul depends on the empty weight of the semi subtract the empty weight from (max) 80 thousand pounds.
eg ; 80.000 minus (semi and trailers) empty weight 21.000 equals 59.000 pounds in this instance the cargo that could be legally hauled is 59000 pounds (total semi weight which includes all tarps, straps ,equipment and load equal 80.000 pounds)
egghead it was not about the weight of the truck it was about the food she cooked YOU MISSED THE THE HOLD POINT
Have neither one of you heard of "heavy hauling"? I say go girl! We try to cook on the road as much as possible.
the "HOLD point?"
Ya beat me to the 100,000 gross. See we truckers CAN read and write!
...not to mention the fatas__ drivers and all their frying pans.
I drove the big rigs for twenty plus years and not all Truck Stop food was bad. Most of the large chain stops like Petro and some TSA stops had large salad bars For some drivers eating poorly,burgers and fries ,biscuits and gravy were their choice along with chips and cookies..Many drivers would spend a half hour or more driving around the parking lot trying to find a spot to park close enough so they had do do very little walking.
Picture 8. What is he, Frankenstein? What's up with the neck?
That's not his neck. Those are his ears. They stretch them out and then put those hollow rings in them.
No. If anything, he'd be Frankenstein's Monster. But, sadly, they are just big rings in his ears to make him look manly.
"He's a lumberjack and he's OK. He sleeps all night and he works all day..."
HEY COUNT THE STORY WAS NOT ABOUT CHIS IT WAS "GOURMET FOOD ON 18 WHEELS" CAMILLE'S GREAT COOKING
She should stop driving and take over the restaurant at one of the huge truck stops in the midwest. She'd probably make a killing.
She might "make a killing" if she took your advice. But I would wager they have thought about this. If she did as you suggest, that would mean she would be running the restaurant while her beau was on the road 3 out of 4 weeks a month. Maybe they prefer traveling together over running a restaurant. Sometimes relationships are worth more than money.
Shouldn't be a problem, it doesn't sound like they are too good at long term relationships.
This is an excellent idea. A Super Star Chef in Texas, Mr. Stephen Pyles, honed his cooking skills by working in his families Truck Stop in Big Springs,Texas. I'm hoping Camille sees this and can save enough money to give it a shot. Until then....Keep on Truckin' Babe.
It is a MAJOR shame that truck stops don`t cater healthy affordable foods for ones that deliver foods and all to all America, it`s a disgrace!
They will serve whatever their customers want. Their menu items are driven by demand. When their customers stop buying the junk and request quality food, it will be offered.
Ditto. We pull a racecar rig across the US. Whenwe stop, it's at a chain truckstop with all the amenities for on-the-road folks like us.
You DON'T get in the way of a truck driver and his/her full load of calories for the day. Keep your Birkenstock, PIOUS car driving and EVIAN sipping attitude out of this conversation!
When I go to SAPP's in Denver, I expect to see that killer white gravy combo plate! Nothing less!
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