D'Auntre Prince has gotten his cooking skills from a number of places in his life: his family, his community and college. Now, the chef and food truck owner is teaching kids in Columbia, Missouri, some of the skills that he's learned over the years.
Prince first learned to cook by watching his grandfather cook; he was a chef in the army and often cooked for his family. When he got a little older, Prince got a job at a restaurant through CARE, Career Awareness Related Experience, which places Columbia teenagers in local businesses to give them real-world job experience while putting some money in their pockets.
While he was in high school, Prince kept learning through the culinary arts classes at the Columbia Area Career Center. He then attended the Art Institute of St. Louis for college, where he studied culinary arts and graduated in 2017.
One of his final assignments before graduating was creating a business plan, and Prince designed his for a food truck. After graduating, he decided to put his plan into action; he found a truck on Facebook Marketplace, bought it with some help and opened Scooter's Food Joint & Catering in August.
Scooter's doesn't have a set menu, but you can usually find a Philly cheesesteak in some shape or form. It was the first thing on the Scooter's menu, but now you can also find the dish in egg roll form, Prince's own take on the two very different foods. Plus, it's his favorite thing on the menu.
Depending on the day, you can also find chicken or beef samosas, fries and chicken wings in flavors such as barbecue, hot and sweet and spicy.
While you can expect to see the food truck at different spots around town (it frequents JT's Barbershop on Old 63), Prince also works as a chef at Olive Garden, and you'll find him at Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbia on Monday and Wednesday nights. Prince went to the club himself when he was younger, so when he found out they were looking for a chef to work with the kids, he stepped up.
And although he himself is the chef, the kids cook everything themselves.
"I just help them move along as they're cooking," he says.
Prince says he tries to teach them different cuisines when he can. Under his leadership, the kids have learned to make a lot: homemade pizzas, chicken alfredo, fried rice, brownies and more. And the kids have taken quite a liking to learning the skills – the class is first come, first serve, and when Prince shows up, they run to the classroom to get a spot.
"Kids their age, you can't get 'em to do a lot of things, but they actually want to come to the cooking class," Prince says. "It's a good feeling."
He says that when he was their age, there were mentors around who helped him with homework and other things, so he's glad that he can return the favor.
"It means a lot to me that I can be a mentor and come back and give back to the community of the Boys and Girls Club, and come back and help the kids to show them a different career in life," Prince says.
Scooter's will be closed for the season until March, but when the truck is back up and running in the spring, you can find where it will be on its Facebook page.
Scooter's Food Joint and Catering, facebook.com/Scooters-Food-Joint-Catering-1717480645208107/?epa=SEARCH_BOX