Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Degree earned at Valdosta State: Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a Minor in African American Studies, December 2015
What did you pursue after your graduation from VSU?
I accepted a job offer in Valencia, Spain, to teach English. Two years later I moved to Madrid to pursue my masters in international education. I continued to stay in Spain teaching English but grew tired and worn out with the profession because of a lack of upward mobility. I encountered a quarter-length crisis and felt stuck in my career, so I quit and took a three-month sabbatical in Israel.
What sort of impact did your sabbatical in Israel have on your life?
After spending time in the Middle East soul searching for what my passions were, I returned to Spain and started my own catering business specializing in chicken and waffle brunch parties. I brought a huge piece of home to the American ex-pats of Madrid and introduced foreigners to an element of Southern culture.
Why chicken and waffles?
I chose chicken and waffles because it was something I always cooked for my friends at my house on Sundays. I thought to myself, “Why not make a business out of it because they all loved it.”
What sort of response have you received from those who have tried your food?
Things are progressing well. I have hosted several pop-up events, brunch parties, and taste testings monthly, and I’ve also had my food available at two different bars in the city. I’ve been interviewed, photographed, and published by several food publications in Spain. Word spread and my culinary acts overseas recently gained the attention of a television producer for the Dr. Oz Show. They called me to fly to New York and share my fried chicken recipe and invited me back to the show for several food segments.
(Tara will appear on the Dr. Oz show at 1p.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, on FOX.)
How are you spending the holiday season?
I’m currently back in Atlanta to visit family but will be returning to Spain in 2020 to continue hosting events there and plan my first pop-up event in Paris! I plan to be all over Europe with my events.
What do you think inspired you to take these risks and pursue your true passion?
The nascent stage of my journey began with a simple six-month study abroad trip to London that opened me up to a world of possibilities. Four years later I’m triumphantly grasping every opportunity and creating opportunities for myself to constantly live a life without bounds. I totally did not expect my life to change as dramatically as it did after studying abroad, but I’m glad it did.
What advice do you have for current students?
My advice to students would be to spend your money on traveling. So many of them get a refund check and spend it on frivolous things. Invest that money into your future. A passport is less than $200. I remember receiving refund checks for over $1,000 and I honestly have no idea what I spent it on. Use your money for travel, so you can see the world and have international experience on your resume before you graduate or gain an opportunity abroad before you graduate. Do not limit yourself. Think ahead. Don’t follow the crowds and don’t wait for anyone to hand you something. Create your own lane.