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Simone’s Kitchen ATL Brings Birmingham ‘Taste of Love’

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Whitney “Simone” Generette owns Simone’s Kitchen ATL (A Taste of Love), a food truck she launched in 2020 under the same name of the catering company she established in 2017. (Simone's Kitchen ATL Facebook page)

By Haley Wilson

The Birmingham Times

As a self-taught culinary artist-turned-entrepreneur, Whitney “Simone” Generette had to “bet on herself” to see change in her life—and that bet paid off.

“I worked in corporate America for a while and hated it,” she said. “I didn’t have the freedom I wanted and constantly felt like I should be doing something different.”

Generette owns Simone’s Kitchen ATL (A Taste of Love), a food truck she launched in 2020 under the same name of the catering company she established in 2017. She and her staff of eight offer a selection of dishes, some inspired by her Creole background.

“All of my family primarily lives in Mobile, Alabama, where I often spend holidays. We always celebrate Mardi Gras, and we’re huge on seafood,” she said. “I like to spice things up. One of our top sellers is the Cajun Pasta Trio, a pasta dish with chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage in a Cajun-style Alfredo sauce.”

Culinary Creativity

As far back as her years at Huffman High School, Generette, 31, has customized her dishes—and that didn’t change when she got in the food truck business.

“The food truck menu was created literally out of nowhere,” she said. “I wrote down a list of items that I thought were good.”

Another fan favorite, the Seafood-Stuffed Grilled Cheese, which is filled with fresh crabmeat and shrimp, came from her imagination.

“The grilled cheese? I can’t even really explain how that came about,” Generette said. “The base of the sandwich is something that I wanted to be 100 percent different than what you can get anywhere else. We call ourselves ‘The Home of the Seafood-Stuffed Grilled Cheese’ because on the food truck scene you have to catch what’s going to make you stand out from somebody else.”

Another item that can’t be found elsewhere: Generette’s unique take on loaded fries.

“Everybody has loaded fries, but I haven’t really seen any with seafood,” she said. “Again, we went back to that Cajun flair, and I created something called Bayou Fries, which have andouille sausage and shrimp. The idea is to have those basic items but put my personal spin on it.”

Tired of the Microwave

In 2017, Generette was reminded of her cooking talents by her best friend, Tiffany.

“I would complain [to Tiffany about my corporate job] just about every day,” Generette said. “We lived together at the time, so she was aware that I could cook because I was the cook in the house . . . One day after listening to me complain, [Tiffany] was like, ‘Listen, I’m sick of this. You are actually really good at what you do. You have a passion behind it, so shut up or do something about it.’”

As encouragement, Tiffany gifted Generette’s “all-time favorite Christmas gift.”

“[Four years ago, Tiffany] created my website and my logo, so I was pretty much forced to start my business,” said Generette, who then started to post photos of her dishes on the website and social media, drawing in customers daily and eventually leading to her first catering booking.

“People would leave comments and so many likes,” Generette said. “Social media is such an amazing tool to use, especially as an entrepreneur.”

Generette, a 2008 Huffman graduate, learned how to “freestyle” meals when cooking for her brother, Princeton, after school.

“I always had a passion for cooking, but a lot of my initial skills came from survival,” she said. “[My brother and I] come from a household with a single parent who worked a lot. I pretty much was the one who was like, ‘OK, I’m tired of eating quick microwave food. Let me try something.’”

“I literally got in [the kitchen] and was like, ‘Oh, we have a pack of chicken. Let’s see what I can do with it without burning down the kitchen.’ I had a lot of time to freestyle, and [the dishes] actually started to turn out pretty well.”

After high school, Generette attended Stillman College, a historically Black college and university (HBCU) in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she majored in business administration.

“I always had interest in some type of business,” she said. “I never really knew what path I wanted to take, … never really knew my degree would set me up for my own business ventures one day.”

The Change

Generette graduated from Stillman in 2012 and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she spent some time in the insurance field as an underwriter and claims processor. Still, her family and friends frequently reminded about her of her culinary skills.

“They kept reminding me of the talents that I was hiding,” she said, adding that she got her first booking through the website set up by Tiffany. “I had a cousin that worked for [a car dealer in Atlanta], and his job would feed their sales department every weekend. When he saw that I was launching my catering company, he looked out for me—and I fed more than 50 of his coworkers.”

From there, the business took off.

“Every Saturday, I was catering for the same company. … Eventually they referred me over to a dealership across the street,” said Generette, who was connected with people who worked at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where employees would often get meals catered.

Going Mobile

Generette returned to Birmingham in 2020 and decided that she was ready to take the next step with her business: a food truck.

“Right before the [onset of the COVID-19] pandemic, I was online and randomly typed ‘food truck for sale.’ … I didn’t have the money, per se. I was just doing it just to see what the pricing was,” she said.

“I found an amazing deal from a food truck owner in Atlanta who was ready to sell in February 2020. I reached out to my accountant and said, ‘Look, I see a deal. Can we do it?’ He said, ‘Oh, good. Purchase it.’ I had never worked on a food truck, so I had no idea what to do with [it]. But, again, catering was going well, and I was willing to take the risk.”

A month later the pandemic and its mandatory lockdowns hit. “So here I am with this brand-new future that I can’t really launch yet because we’re getting shut down and we’re all under quarantine,” Generette recalled. “Between February and June [2020], I had time to figure out what I was going to do.”

Generette rolled out her food truck in June 2020 in Birmingham and is now licensed in Jefferson, Shelby, and Tuscaloosa counties.

Currently, she operates two food trucks of the same franchise under the Simone’s Kitchen ATL name and has plans to expand. Her locations are random, but some of the stops have included the West End Food Truck Park, Birmingham City Hall, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Spain Wallace Tower, Food Truck Friday in Forestdale, and Skyland Avenue in Tuscaloosa. She makes her own schedule, which is typically posted on social media, so days and hours vary.

For more information on Simone’s Kitchen ATL, visit www.simoneskitchenatl.com. To see where the truck will be next, follow Simone’s Kitchen ATL at www.facebook.com/simoneskitchenatl and www.instagram.com/simoneskitchenatl.

 If you would like to see your favorite food truck featured in The Birmingham Times, email bwright@birminghamtimes.com, and put “Food Truck” in the subject line.