Wilson Beck, pictured in his Columbus home Friday, holds the deluxe breakfast he just made — a chocolate banana waffle. Beck will conduct a cooking demonstration at the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market at Second Street and Second Avenue North in Columbus Saturday, starting at 7 a.m. The market is open Mondays 4-6 p.m. and Thursdays and Saturdays 7-10 a.m. Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff
June 4, 2014 10:09:12 AM
Early birds at the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market in Columbus Saturday will reap more than choice picks of fresh produce, crafts and plants. They will also enjoy a cooking demo when Wilson Beck starts whipping up chocolate banana waffles at 7 a.m. The aroma of a hot waffle sprinkled with chocolate chips coming off the griddle, then topped with honey, chopped pecans, bananas and powdered sugar, should be enough incentive to get on out of bed.
Beck's cooking demo coincides with an important event in his life, the launch of an Indiegogo.com crowdfunding campaign to help realize his dream -- a food truck and small-scale catering service called Wheelson's. (Crowdfunding pools money from many different people to bring an idea to fruition.) The page went online Monday, with the goal of raising $15,000 by July 28.
Finding a passion
Wilson learned his way around a kitchen when he was just 11 or 12 years old. That's when he began cooking dinners after school for himself and his hard-working single mother. As he grew older, his culinary skills further developed during summer visits to his aunt and grandparents in the Carolinas. (He was born in North Carolina and raised in South Carolina, before moving to Mississippi at the age of 5.)
"My Aunt Toni (Taylor) is unbelievable; she has that Carolina passion for cooking, and I got a lot of my technique and cooking skills from her," said the personable Beck, deftly making waffle batter from scratch Friday. The bright, high-ceilinged kitchen is in one of Columbus' period homes, where Wilson and his brand new wife, Lindsey Miller Beck, are beginning married life. Lindsey is youth services coordinator at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. The two met at a job fair, where Wilson represented the bank he worked for at the time and Lindsey attended on behalf of the library. No surprise that she is his biggest fan -- and not just because of the obvious perks of having a great cook for a husband.
"Oh, it's the best! I'm a terrible cook," Lindsey laughed. "He basically taught me how to boil water. He's been a Godsend in the kitchen; before him, I was eating SpaghettiOs."
Breakfast is one of Wilson's favorite meals to make.
"It's a hobby of mine," he said, explaining that when he was growing up his family would often "do breakfast as dinner." "And I was obsessed with bananas," he smiled.
With batter ready, he filled a pre-heated waffle iron. "I want it as full as possible without going over the edge because I don't want any holes," he said. After only a few minutes, the waffle was ready for chocolate. With 30 seconds to a minute of cooking time left, Beck opened the griddle and liberally sprinkled Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate drops on the waffle surface, then closed the top.
"I add the chocolate chips at the very end because they tend to burn, and there's nothing worse than burnt chocolate," he explained. When the waffle was golden brown, it got a royal treatment of toppings.
Wings and rice
While breakfast is fun, Beck specializes in traditonal Southern and Asian cuisines. In addition to catering, his Wheelson's food truck enterprise will feature wings and hibachi-style rice bowls, both offered with a selection of custom sauces he's developed. Indie-pop group Star and Micey were wing-testers for the music and sports buff this past weekend, while they were in Columbus to perform at The Princess Theater.
As a young, determined Christian and entrepreneur, Beck is focusing his faith and his passion for cooking toward the new business venture, he said. He's eager to become part of the local business community and provide a new dining option. Lindsey is behind him every step of the way. As a Christmas gift, she drew up a proposed logo for Wheelson's to demonstrate her confidence in his goal.
The couple is humbled by the encouragement of family and friends, like Katherine and Ryan Munson, who have offered significant hands-on support.
"I feel there's nothing more powerful than having people believe in you," Wilson said. "A lot of people are trying to help my dream come true."
Meet Wilson Beck at the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market Saturday morning and broaden your breakfast horizon.
To learn more about Wheelson's, visit indiegogo.com/projects/wheelson-s-hits-the-road, or email Beck at [email protected]
CHOCOLATE BANANA WAFFLES
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon banana extract
(Source: Wilson Beck)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.