Interview no. 1681


Wayne Calk


Meredith E. Abarca


El Paso Food Voices


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Summary of Interview

“I was born in Del Rio, Texas and now here I am.” This is how Wayne Calk, who has been participating in Chuck Wagon cooking either in competition, historical and cultural festivals or for private catering events for over 30 years, begins his recollections as to what got him interested in cooking. He begins by addressing his childhood culinary mentors. From his mother he learned through osmosis the basis of cooking. From his father he learned the ability to cook with speed and to approach cooking like a science. From his eight-grade teacher he learned the value of knowing how to make the necessary equipment cooking on a campfire requires—from making the stove itself. These three lessons fed the culinary seed within him that was just waiting to grow. From stories he heard about his great-grand father who registered their family brane in 1876, he developed an appreciation for the world of cattle driving and cowboys’ way of life.

Wayne received a degree in Industrial Arts from Sul Ross University and eventually got a job working for El Paso School District, first as Supervisor for the District’s Vocational Curriculum than as Principal Assistant Principal at Bel Air High School. He began catering for events sponsored by Ysleta Independent School District. For these events the main meat cooked and served was brisket. In the mid 1990s he became interested in the culture of Chuck Wagon Cooking as a result of attending the Chuck Wagon Cook-Off Competition in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Since then he has owned two period wagons, participated in numerous cook-off competitions, served as food judge and as President of the American Chuck Wagon Association. The recipe box, the recipes, and a number of cooking utensils he uses carry memories and stories of influential people in his life, stories that live on every time he cooks. Chuck wagon cooking for Wayne is not only a way to keep the history of cattle drives, ranching, and cowboys alive and teach younger generations, but to keep, make, and maintain life-long friendships.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

1 hour 7 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1681

Interview Number

No. 1681

Terms of Use



For information on obtaining a transcript of this interview, please contact The Institute for Oral History

1681 Calk, Wayne.summary.pdf (79 kB)
Interview Cover Sheet

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