From saving lives to roasting corn; local paramedic ventures into the food truck business.
Kiela Whitten is someone you want to know.
She is kind, easy going, smart, articulate and caring. She is funny, easy to talk to and full of so much wisdom that it’s hard to believe she is only 30 years old.
I spoke with Kiela by phone recently and since then I have regretted not having an in-person interview with her over a glass of wine.
She is the kind of person that people are naturally drawn to; someone you instinctively know would make a good friend.
And that’s exactly why Kiela is so good at her jobs (yeah, it’s plural).
First and foremost, Kiela is a paramedic with Erath EMS.
She was born and raised in Stephenville, graduating from SHS in 2007.
Following high school, Kiela was unsure of what she wanted to do so she went to massage therapy school.
“Then I realized that I enjoyed getting massages much more than giving them,” she said in a way that made me laugh. “That was not for me.”
Her life took a different path a short time later while she was attending Weatherford College.
“A friend of mine mentioned that they were going to EMS school, and I said, ‘I’m going too.’”
And that’s exactly what she did.
After completing an EMT program in Weatherford, she went on to paramedic school, then went to work for Erath EMS in 2013.
“And the rest is history,” she said.
Her job as a paramedic is a “calling,” she says.
“Becoming a paramedic was never on my radar, but I realized quickly that it was right for me,” she said. “I get to be with people during really special moments like when babies are born and I get to help those who need support in some of the worst moments of their lives.
“This job has opened up a door to be a servant in many different capacities in our community.”
It’s also taught her something deeper: “If there is one thing that EMS has taught me is that life is fragile and it can be brief, so I am going to enjoy every moment of it.”
HEADING TO THE CORN FIELD (NOT LITERALLY)
Kiela never stops learning.
She graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and is now set to complete grad school in August.
While Kiela was working on her undergrad, she was offered a contract with Cook Children’s Medical Center and made the decision to sock away the extra money she made to start her own business.
One day while scrolling through Amazon, she stumbled on a book – “Everything You Need to Know about the Corn Roasting Business” – and was intrigued.
During her breaks at the station, her co-workers teased Kiela about her growing interest in corn roasting.
“I caught mad heat from them saying that I was going into the carnival business,” she said with a laugh.
But she wasn’t deterred.
She read the book from front to back three times, then took a leap of faith in 2019 and purchased a corn roasting machine.
Then her dream of owning her own business came to fruition when Awe Shucks was born.
Kiela hauled her corn roasting machine to several big events like the Parker County Peach Festival and roasted hundreds of corn cobs under a tent.
“Everyone loved it,” she said. “People have no idea how good it is until they try it, then they are hooked.”
Kiela roasts corn traditionally, using butter and other spices, but it’s elote – a Mexican style street corn using mayonnaise, cheese and hot sauce – that people go crazy for.
Awe Shucks was such a hit that Kiela purchased a trailer, remodeled it and is now ready to take her corn roasting business on the road.
The small trailer is a mighty one, equipped for roasting a whopping 500 ears of corn per hour.
She plans to roast her delicious corn at nearby public gatherings and can also be hired to cater private events.
“My big goal is to get into the Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Fest,” she said.
She is also adding something new to the menu this year – corn in a cup.
“It’s too good,” she said. “People who don’t like to eat corn off a cob will love it.”
And if you are wondering about those guys back at the station who teased her, well, they have had a change of heart.
“All of those guys have apologized and admit that this is a cool thing,” she said.
If you would like to book Awe Shucks for an event, give Kiela a call at 254-592-3612.