Trucker Kevin Carter ate sushi one night and figured he could make his own sushi for a fraction of the cost. That was a year-and-a-half ago. Carter, a company driver for Titan Trucking in Canada, has been rolling sushi in his truck ever since.

“The key to making a good sushi roll is patience and perseverance,” Carter says. “You gotta make sure the rice is spread out evenly and it’s a nice, tight roll.”

Carter spreads the rice three-sixteenths of an inch thick and tops it with ahi tuna, salmon, mackerel, even swordfish.

Carter learned to roll sushi through trial and error and by watching online videos. He’s now so skilled that he rolls sushi about once a month.

Carter is self taught in much of what he does. He builds houses from the ground up, inks a great design, and cooks just about anything. At age 7, Carter cooked beef stroganoff for the first time. It sparked in him an interest in cooking that has lasted a lifetime.

He learned to cook from his mom as a youngster growing up in Calgary, Canada. “I’m a mama’s boy,” he says. “She instilled in me a quality set of morals and self esteem. She always wanted me to push myself and make myself better. And she succeeded.”

He Honed His Craft In The School of Hard Knocks

Carter obtained his GED in an unlikely place—the penitentiary. He worked in the kitchen there for three years and became a skilled baker. At 26, after his release, Carter attended culinary school and became a certified “Red Seal” chef, qualifying him to cook in Canadian hotels.

Before becoming a truck driver, the multi-talented Carter also owned a tattoo business for a couple of years. For the record, Carter has 39 tattoos, 34 of which he inked himself. He learned to tattoo in 1991, using himself as a canvas to perfect his skill.

“I was sitting there drawing one day and some guy came up to me and said, ‘I want you to ink that on me,’” Carter recalls. “It was fun, I was good at it, and I just stuck with it. Then, I started doing it for others. And, the more I did it, the more I liked it. The more I liked it, the better I got.”

One of the tattoos Carter has inked

Carter estimates he’s inked upwards of 30,000 tattoos, including 80 memorializing someone.

These days, he’s devoted to his CDL trucking job, but he still inks and does piercings for clients in his free time.

“I like driving,” he says. “It’s a good fit for me. I’m on the road for about three to five weeks at a time. I see so much of the country, so I’m able to scout out places where I’d like to buy land in retirement.”

Recently, Carter did buy land—eight acres on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. When he retires from his CDL trucking job, Carter plans to build an 850-square-foot house there that runs on solar power. He’ll hunt his own food and live off the grid. It’s a longtime dream of his 15 years in the making.

That’s the thing about Carter—he never stops dreaming.

He puts his dreams into action, too. “I’m constantly striving for knowledge,” he says. “If I’m not learning, I’m not living.”

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Marty steaks

Part of Drive My Way’s ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

Marty Wickliff can grill anything. The company driver for TMC out of Des Moines, Iowa, learned to cook from his mom when he was a boy. He only improved from there.

Wickliff’s cooking skills were refined all the more at 16, when he got a job as a short-order cook at a navy base in Florida.

Marty Wickliff

Marty Wickliff

By the time Wickliff was 18, he was managing a Waffle House in Alabama. That’s where he honed his culinary chops most.

“The waitress would call out the order, and you had to remember it,” Wickliff recalls. “That job taught me how to time food preparation and get food out hot all at once.”

With the high volume at Waffle House, Wickliff learned to work quickly and memorize orders. It unleashed in him a passion for cooking on the fly. All these years later, that passion is still with him.

Wickliff’s culinary experience is diverse. In the years after Waffle House, he cooked at a five-star resort and attended culinary school for a time. While his dreams of becoming a chef weren’t to last, “I retained a lot of what I learned,” he says.

Wickliff took up truck driving nearly 6 years ago, after getting laid off from a factory job he had. His grandfather and former stepfather were both drivers, and Wickliff grew up observing them. “I always wanted to drive a truck, so I finally decided to do it,” he says.


Wickliff’s grilled London broil with bacon-wrapped cabbage

While he sharpened his cooking skills as a mere teen, today, at 49, Wickliff is a true grillmaster. He’s read up a lot on the technique and learned even more from doing it himself. Wickliff drives with a little gas grill he bought at Wal-Mart. It allows him to eat healthy while on the road.

Wickliff grills steaks, ribs, hamburgers, vegetables, fish, you name it. “My go-to is steak, but if it goes on the grill without falling through the grates, it’s pretty much fair game,” he says.

Wickliff likes his steaks rare. He seasons them, then marinates them for 24 hours in Worcestershire sauce. When it’s time to cook his steak, he grills it for about three minutes, then flips it and cooks it for five minutes more. As an accompaniment, he often grills up vegetables on the side.


Wickliff’s barbecued pork ribs with grilled vegetables

But Wickliff doesn’t stop at steaks. He also loves making boneless pork country-style ribs. Marinating them in 6 Pepper seasoning from Sam’s Club for 24 hours “gives the ribs a sweet and spicy bite,” Wickliff says. He also adds garlic powder and lemon pepper to the mix.

Wickliff sears his ribs on high heat, then turns the heat down to about 225 degrees and lets the ribs grill for a half hour. He tops them off with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce and lets them cook with the sauce for 15 minutes more. To him, it’s all perfection.

“Mainly, I go back to what I learned in the restaurant business,” Wickliff says of his technique. “I’m pretty good at picking out meats. I drive solo, so I have to do all my prep work myself. To me, grilling is relaxing. Just to sit out here in my lawn chair and grill out and unwind, it’s a great way to end the day.”

All food images by Marty Wickliff; image of Marty Wickliff by Rachel Torres

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Chris Cox is cooking dinner. But he’s not in his kitchen. He’s cooking meals from a much more unlikely place — his semi.

For the veteran truck driver, who has found his niche as a company driver for Ozark Motor Lines, the road to this culinary triumph was long and full of misunderstanding.Chris Cox photo 2

“For a long time I was operating under these misconceptions about not being able to cook in the truck,” says Cox. “For some reason, I just thought it couldn’t be done.”

But that was bound to change.

And about five years ago, it did change, when Cox fell on hard times. Cox’s former employer was bought out, he took a huge pay cut, and he was going broke. He had to reduce his expenses in a hurry.

For Cox, who for years dined out twice a day, reducing his expenses had to start with his eating habits. He began cooking in the truck.

“For me, that was hard,” he says. “It was a big change of my lifestyle.”

For two years, Cox struggled with cooking in his truck. He did the dishes with bins of soap and water. It was a splashy mess. Then Cox discovered the Big Truck Cooking Group on Facebook, and his culinary world changed.

“It was my involvement with Big Truck Cooking that radicalized everything for me,” he says. “All those years of failure, and then all of a sudden I just stumbled across this group — those people are doing this on a truck? Aw, no way!”

For Cox, the group was a godsend. Through it, he learned he could clean up with baby wipes, that they wouldn’t leave a residue on his dishes. He ditched the soap and water, and his imagination soared.

The man who grew up watching his grandmother cook (and who once worked as a professional chef) had found his creative outlet again. It freed him to cook in the spontaneous style he loves, right on his truck.Kilbasa

Cox’s grandmother, now 96, was his biggest culinary influence. She grew up during the Great Depression. “That’s a whole other style of cooking,” Cox says. “You couldn’t go to the store to buy the ingredients you didn’t have. You just had to go without them. And that’s how my grandmother cooked. She made due with what she had. As a young boy, I picked up on that.”

To this day, Cox likes improvising. Big Truck Cooking introduced Cox to the Aroma cooker, which diversifies his menu with its versatility. It’s a steamer, skillet, crock pot and rice cooker all in one. He often uses it to cook Eckrich kielbasa because any unused sausage is easy to seal and store.

“The Aroma was a game changer for me,” he says. “The Aroma and baby wipes were necessary for me to fall into a groove. Now I’m definitely in it. It’s a good place to be.”

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Featured image from; other images courtesy Chris Cox


Veggie dish


Veggie-a-go-go Recipe:

  • Half cup of rice
  • Half cup of water
  • Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 bunch of green beans
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 small or medium can tomato sauce
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 container sliced mushrooms

  1. Put half cup of rice, half cup of water and a spoonful of butter in an Aroma cooker. Put Aroma on White Rice setting and wait for timer to beep when done.
  2. While rice is cooking, cut the ends off a bunch of green beans and cut the green beans and corn cobs in half. Slice onions and mince garlic.
  3. Open a can of tomato sauce
  4. Slice sweet, yellow peppers into “matchsticks”
  5. When rice is done cooking, put in a bowl and set it aside for the last step. Put corn cobs in bottom of pot. Put green beans in steam basket with 3 cups of water.
  6. Put Aroma on Steam setting and set the timer for 20 minutes. Close lid, press Start.
  7. The Aroma has a count down timer. At 10-minute mark, add crushed, minced garlic to the beans in the steam basket.
  8. At 7-minute mark, add yellow peppers in steam basket.
  9. At 3-minute mark, add sliced mushrooms and onion to pot where the corn is.
  10. When timer goes off, butter the corn and plate it.
  11. Drain the water from the pot and add the rice set aside earlier, along with all remaining veggies, to the Aroma pot (except corn).
  12. Put Aroma on the STS setting (Sear Then Simmer), add can of tomato sauce and stir while pot bubbles with flavor. Serve when the smell starts driving you crazy.