Meet the Team: Marlowe Whittaker
Where Are You From:
Born in Memphis, TN. Raised in Chattanooga, TN.
Tell us a little about yourself…
If you had told me seven years ago that I would have a career in the hospitality industry, I would have told you that you were crazy.
My original plan was to graduate from the University of Tennessee with a degree in international business, move overseas and work for a global powerhouse. But as I have learned during my time here in Knoxville, plans are meant to change. And luckily for me, my plans morphed into something I could have never imagined.
I spent my first two years of college just going through the motions; taking course, after course. While my friends were diving deeper into their majors, I just couldn’t find any real passion for my classes. I started thinking about what I love in life and things that I am good at. I knew I liked working with people. I was always trying to plan trips and parties. And I loved food!
After a hard slap of reality, I decided that I needed to make a change. I applied to several internships in Knoxville to test out different career options. Whether the internship was for a week or a year, paid or unpaid, I was willing to work. And after several weeks of interviews, I landed a spot with Visit Knoxville as their Community Outreach Intern. I would be working closely with the Director of Community Outreach, making sure all of the city-wide events ran smoothly.
The highlight of this position was planning Boomsday 2010. I spent all year researching sponsors, creating marketing strategies, setting up event layouts and working with vendors to prepare for this epic event. I got to see the largest fireworks display in the US come to life, from start to finish. And on the night of Boomsday, when every detail was in place and every attendee was patiently waiting for the first firework to light, I knew I could do this forever.
So seven years later, here I am…Catering Sales Manager of Dead End BBQ. And I couldn’t be happier. I actually get to work at a job that combines everything I love: people, parties and food. Plus, I work with some of the most amazing people in the business. From the owners to the restaurant managers to the Catering Team, everyone puts their heart and soul into making each day at Dead End a success. You just can’t ask for anything more than that. I’m truly am blessed.
When you are at work, what is your “go-to” meal?
My “go-to” meal….that’s tough. I don’t think I have one. Currently, I’ve been trying to eat on the healthy side of barbecue, so anything with our smoked chicken is my “go-to”,
But the smoked sausage and cheese appetizer is the best thing on the menu! Hands Down! I could eat it all the time.
What is your favorite saying that has been posted on the Dead End Sign?
“I like pig butts and I cannot lie.”
Share a memorable experience you’ve had during your time at Dead End…
My most memorable experience would be the first time I catered The Coaches Clinic at the University of Tennessee. Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this event, let me give you a little info.
For two days in April, high school football coaches from all over the US come down to Knoxville to learn about football. They go to seminars, listen to speakers, run drills, etc. And for the past several years, we have catered their lunch.
Well this was my first large, catered event with Dead End and by large, I mean we fed 600 hungry, ex-football-playing men.
After preparing for this lunch for a month, the team woke up bright and early to gather the food and load the catering vans. We drove to Thompson Boling Arena and began setting up for the lunch. Three hours and three buffet lines later, my nerves hit me all at once. This was it. My initiation into Dead End BBQ Catering.
The coaches came flooding down the arena stairs, lining up for our East Tennessee barbecue. They were hungry and in a hurry. I was manning buffet #1, prepared to give each person their portion of pork and chicken. The first couple of guys came through the line and everything was great. But before I knew it, all 600 men were pushing through the buffet lines. Pork and chicken were flying everywhere. My adrenaline was pumping. I was just trying to keep these giants happy and fed. I look over and the rest of my team had the same sense of urgency; running around restocking sides but just as they refilled the macaroni and cheese, the green beans would be empty. It thought it would never end. But as I plated my last pulled pork sandwich, I looked up and the sea of men was gone.
In 30 minutes, we had fed 600 football coaches.
Best. Event. Ever.