You might remember seeing Madison on this season of A Chef's Life - she's the one helping Holley, our coordinator of chaos, keep things running smoothly on the food truck and at VHQ. Born-and-raised in Kinston, Madison found her way back home after college where she joined the team and is a budding local artist.
—The Gorging on Life Team
Tell us a little about yourself.
I couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing in Kinston, but when I graduated from high school I was definitely ready to leave. I went to College of Charleston for my Bachelor's degrees in Historic Preservation & Community Planning and Studio Art, and minored in Art History. After school, I wanted to work in some form of city development and while being able to continue practicing my art. Kinston ended up being the perfect fit. I made a decision to turn down a job in Washington D.C. and move back to Kinston. I have never regretted it. My little town had grown into something that made me so proud and I wanted to be a part of it. I was offered a position to go on the food truck tour for Deep Run Roots and it's history from there. Since then, my job has definitely evolved. Holley is the Coordinator of Chaos, but I guess you could call me the Organizer of Chaos.
Tell us about Kinston. You've seen it change a lot.
Kinston is a hidden gem and I love living here. Kinston does not have a TJ Maxx, Harris Teeter, or Starbucks, but has grown and developed in its own unique way. To me, not many cities have what Kinston has to offer. There is something special about walking into one of the downtown businesses, knowing who owns it, and what it took for them to get their business where it is today. It gives me an appreciation for my town and its future.
I love my job, I love my studio two blocks away from my office, and I love the people around me. I couldn’t ask for more. I am thankful to Kinston for giving that to me.
Tell us about your art.
My artwork, I like to think, is a reflection of my soul. I love animals and they are probably my favorite painting topic. I only use large brushes, consider small details irrelevant, and color reigns in all my work. My studio is located at 105 Blount Street, where I am fortunate enough to work with 18 other artists. The studio is open usually from 11:00 – 5:00 Monday-Saturday. Come say hello. You can find my work on my Instagram @Makes_By_Mauck and on my website.
Tell us about the perfect day in Kinston. What would you do?
I would definitely start by walking my dog. Then I would head downtown to Lovick’s Café for breakfast where I'd sit at the bar and be greeted by friendly faces and perhaps chat with someone new. After, I would walk to my studio two blocks away and paint something. When I am satisfied, I would sit down with my studio neighbors, have a glass of wine and chat. I would end my day at Mother Earth Brewery. A band would be playing and it would but a mix of people I work with, my family, and friends from town; all the people I care about.
Let's talk about the food truck tour.
The first thing I learned on the food truck: just go with it. Each stop was never the same. Serving sites were always different then expect, Airbnb’s were either amazing or terrible, and obstacles were always present. We just had to go with it and make what we had work.
Next: always keep smiling. Laughter and positivity are really what got us through the tour. It made me realize how far a positive attitude can go.
Lastly: do the best you can. I made a lot of mistakes. I just needed to learn from them and do better. I think that’s probably the biggest thing I learned.
My most memorable meal was at J.C. Holdway in Knoxville. The atmosphere was amazing and the food never stopped coming. Everything was so incredible. One of my favorite things was the pork belly & biscuits, the chef’s rendition of one of his grandmother's meals.
And of course I have to mention the most frustrating and repetitive disaster... the serpentine belt. The food truck could not travel 300 miles without shredding one of these. At first this was a 3-hour ordeal to fix. But by the end of the tour, and after 4 belts had broken, Casey had mastered the process and we were down to a 30-min delay.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of your job?
My favorite part is the definitely the food. I come from a family with some very picky eaters, so I love trying new things and learning about new foods.
If you could change one thing about Kinston, what would it be?
We need some kind of transportation service desperately. Uber, Lyft, taxis, whatever, we need more of it.
What's on your perfect pizza?
All of the cheeses and vegetables you could ever imagine.
What's your go-to cocktail/alcohol?
Wine all day. The kind is always changing but right now a crisp, fruity Pinot Griot.
What would be your last meal on earth?
Pasta. I am a carb fanatic. There is never a time that I do not want some kind of pasta.
Do you like to cook?
I do like to cook. But, I am terrified of cooking for others, especially considering who I work with! I have cooked a couple of things from Deep Run Roots and so far the Butterbean Burger is probably my favorite.