La’Twana Scott developed a reputation as a great cook at an early age. The El Dorado native enjoys cooking for people and got her start from helping her mom as a child.
In fifth grade, she ordered her first cookbook – a “Berenstain Bears” one with cookie recipes. Her first batch was a success.
“I was just amazed you could just put a little bit of this and a little bit of that together and make a whole lot of something,” Scott said.
Cooking quickly became a passion for Scott and she began experimenting with different combinations of ingredients. Soon she was making dips, chicken spaghetti and more. Once she knew her way around the kitchen well, she would take several recipes for a dish and then tweak them to make it her own. Her family and friends at school would sample her creations.
She filled lots of requests for friends’ birthday parties and events. El Dorado Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer gave Scott her first paid catering event, and her demand increased significantly – especially around Thanksgiving. Scott worked full-time as a 911 dispatcher. When she wasn’t working, she took and filled orders for everything from dressing and chicken spaghetti to peach cobbler and banana pudding.
“People kept telling me, ‘You should really think about opening a restaurant.’ But I didn’t see quitting my job as an option,” Scott said. She knew there was a market for the kind of food she was cooking, but she needed the stability of a full-time job. “People needed somewhere to go and sit down to eat after church on Sunday. Some place with good homestyle cooking.”
Scott started to look for locations to lease for a place she’d open on the weekend. She asked about changing her hours at the police station only to include Monday through Friday. Eventually, with the help of Southern Bankcorp, Scott found the perfect location.
“I stepped out on faith and left my job for five years,” Scott said. “I guess this is what God wanted me to do… He’s been doing the rest ever since. Within five months of opening, I was featured in Arkansas Business. And anytime I have thought about just giving up, even with COVID-19, God would send a call with a catering gig for 300 people. It’s like he was letting me know, ‘This is what I have for you to do.’ I love what I’m doing every day. I cook from the heart.”
Find out more about Sweet Mama T’s by visiting her Facebook page.
This Turn To Your Neighbor profile is sponsored by Southern Bancorp. Southern Bancorp is one of America’s oldest and largest community development financial institutions, founded to provide underserved communities with access to capital and the wealth building tools needed to grow. Learn more at BankSouthern.com and SouthernPartners.org.