Crete Carrier Corporation company driver Kathereen Abbiegayle Shafer, known as Chef Abbie, has been a trucker for 15 years, but she’s been a master chef (MC) for closer to 20 years. Once a chef, you’re always a chef, she says.
Shafer, from Corsicana, Texas, specializes in British and American cuisine. She left the food industry because she was tired of dealing with other chefs in her kitchen, but was inspired to become a truck driver after visiting a truck stop.
“I went on to stop at a truck stop and I saw these drivers that were getting out of the trucks that were really heavyset and having trouble with their walking. I thought you know what, why can’t I take my knowledge in the food industry and put it into the trucking industry and help these drivers to become healthier,” Shafer said.
Shafer, though, thought that she needed to lead by example. She couldn’t just coach truckers on how to make healthier choices; She had to make them herself, too. At the time, Shafer was 287 pounds.
“I had to prove it could be done,” she said.
She went to truck driving school and got her CDL. Now as a driver and trainer for Crete, she hauls dry van and has been able to drop down to 168 pounds. She’s made all sorts of meals from her truck, including Beef Wellington, a complicated but delicious filet mignon dish. Her favorite meal to cook on the truck, inspired by the time she spent growing up in Britain before returning to her home state of Texas, is called Bubble and Squeak, a patty of cabbage, carrots, meat and potatoes with gravy.
“When I started training students I would make sure that they had what they needed as far as nutritional information. I made sure they had food with them when they were on the truck with me as far as cooking for them, pretty much showing them it can be done from an 18-wheeler just as well as it can be done from your own home,” Shafer said.
Shafer is currently working on producing a show, Truck Driving Chef, inspired by her efforts to help other truckers become healthier by teaching them how to cook on the truck.
“The Truck Driving Chef show is a reality show where a master chef, myself, has come to the roadways to help the drivers become healthier, succeeding hopefully by doing it one driver at a time,” Shafer said
While she could not yet disclose network information or an anticipated air date, Shafer said the first few episodes of the first season will focus on Crete and Shafer drivers. The fleet has been supportive of her show and her cooking initiatives, she said, and so she wants their drivers to have the first opportunity to be on the show.
“I cook from the 18-wheeler and show people how they can do it and what they can use, the products that I use and the different things that I do,” Shafer said.
The show is still in the production phase, but Shafer also runs a YouTube channel under the same name where she has previously posted cooking videos. She also does frequent live videos on her Truck Driving Chef Facebook page.
Shafer will be doing some filming for the Truck Driving Chef show at the Great American Trucking Show next week. She will also lead a presentation and discussion Aug. 25 at 10:30 a.m. local time on the Health and Wellness Pavilion Stage. She will demonstrate healthy cooking options and talk about how to make healthy lifestyle choices while over the road.
“I want to demonstrate some of the things that I’ve done to help keep the weight under control,” Shafer said.
The Great American Trucking Show will be held Aug. 23-25 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. Registration is available for free online in advance of the show.