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About Me

Smoking In The Girl’s Room
Monica (Mo) Carvajal-Beben
Shelton, WA
USA

Smoking Mo’s
Owner & Kitchen Manager
203 S 1st Street
Shelton, WA 98584
www.smokingmos.com

Magnolia Room
Owner
www.smokingmos.com/about-the-magnolia-room

OBJECTIVE
I’ve owned and managed a restaurant with my husband since 2007. In 2015 we welcomed our first child. For the majority of my adult life my focus has been on building our business and raising my family. Obviously, as a women in what is predominantly a man’s world, the professional kitchen, I have a unique perspective. I’ve also struggled with changing my identity from work driven to motherhood after working so hard to prove my place in that kitchen. My personal desire to create art and write was neglected, silenced even at times, due to the high demands of my job and my home life. Matters certainly weren’t improved thanks to the impossible expectations I place on myself. With the new year I’ve found new strength, courage and permission to focus on the part of myself that I’ve been rejecting. My creative side. This has been confusing since technically my job is creative. But I’m on the hunt to examine the difference between the two, and how to make room for both in my life. All while still being present for my husband and my daughter.
Fight On!

MY STORY
I literally grew up in the restaurant atmosphere. Following in the footsteps of my grandmother who owned a pie shop in Oklahoma for many years, my mother opened a diner when I was just 5 years old. I spent much of my youth serving tables and helping where I could in the kitchen. Never feeling more at home than I do in a restaurant environment, thirty years later I’m still in the kitchen duplicating and recreating the recipes from my youth.

While living in Oklahoma on a small farm for many years, I learned how to take an active role in the growth and production of my own food sources. I learned what real food looks like, and where it comes from. I learned to appreciate and honor the miracle and beauty of the treats our planet provides.

Through college study abroad programs I explored and fell in love with the connection between food and culture in travels through England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Luxembourg and Mexico.

I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Coker College in 2003. There I enjoyed studies in fine art and photography, and I minored in Graphic Design.

After meeting and then marrying my husband, Tom, in college in South Carolina, we spent the next several years exploring the culinary craft of the Carolina low country and Southern United States before moving to the west coast.

My professional restaurant experience includes work in casual, fine dining establishments and high profile catering companies in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Los Angeles. I rounded out my professional food and beverage training in hotel event management in Charleston, South Carolina in 2005.

In 2007, Tom and I opened Smoking Mo’s Kitchen, a very small take-out only bbq restaurant in Shelton, WA. After a long and hard journey to grow our business, we now operate Smoking Mo’s (we dropped the ‘Kitchen’ after our building grew well beyond the 240 sq foot space we started in) in a very cool very old building on the corner of 1st and Grove Street. We also operate The Magnolia Room there, a private event venue. We have big dreams for our new big building, including The High Steel Beer Co. which we plan to open summer 2021.

In 2020 Tom and I created Peace, Love & BBQ, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of our neighbors and community members in Shelton, Washington through the procurement and delivery of food to families in need, and to the ever growing broad range of needs for youth who otherwise go without. It is hard to live your life to its fullest potential if you spend much of your time hungry. We feed mouths so that others can feed the world’s soul.


“We can do hard things.”

Glennon Doyle

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