Carter’s Table Brings Tacos With ‘World-Wide Flavors’ To State

Shawn Carter, the owner of Carter’s Table, has been building quite a following since he began sharing his trademark tacos at the downtown State College farmers market just six months ago.

With a line of people surrounding his stand at all times, Carter has been able to share his passion for cooking through his taco stand.

“I love it. I love it. I used to live in Alexander Court at one point, and I lived in Beaver Hill, so you know, I’ve walked by here all the time,” Carter said. “I’ve always wanted to — once I started catering — be at the market.”

Carter graduated from Penn State in 2003 and has called State College his home ever since, aside from a quick three months in Pittsburgh.

Carter’s Table officially began in 2018 as a local catering business. Since then, Carter has expanded his business to serving visitors at the farmers market and catering large events in and out of State College.

“It’s my passion, it’s what I love, but it is also my career,” Carter said. “I never think, ‘Aw, I’m going to work.’ It’s still exciting to me.”

While Carter is famous for his tacos, it is just one of countless dishes he loves to make for people.

“All the foods that I like to eat, I like to cook. The foods I like to cook for people are the foods I like, also,” Carter said.

Growing up in a multicultural household and town, Carter became accustomed to all different kinds of foods. When asked his favorite, Carter laughed and listed off Mediterranean, Italian, Lebanese, soul food, Asian, and Spanish until there were no more cuisines left to add.

Despite his wide appreciation for food around the world, Carter doesn’t offer a catering menu. The reason simply is so customers don’t feel restrained to any specific type of cuisine.

“I want everyone to be able to eat good food. If they see something too expensive or too cheap, they may not order,” Carter said.

To show his love for diverse foods, Carter came up with the slogan “World-Wide Flavors.” At the end of the day, for Carter, his favorite food is anything that his clients want to eat.

Carter explained how he feels lucky and has a true passion for cooking and serving people.

“I didn’t know I loved it until I started doing it — that passion and that love was just given to me,” Carter said. “I didn’t develop it or anything. I’ve just always liked it.”

Despite the business’ growth, Carter keeps Carter’s Table as a one-man show so he can see his work from start to finish.

“Their reaction to the food is everything,” Carter said. “It’s like, I’m still blown away by how much people like my food. Still, to this day.”

Carter has worked in the food industry for decades, first starting as a dish washer and line cook at State College’s now long-gone Hooters. Over time, Carter worked different positions and fell in love with it all — from serving and cooking to the hours of prep work.

Carter urges students to find their passion and to find something they enjoy doing.

“If you start doing something and you don’t love it, get out of it because life is too short,” Carter said.

Carter has done his best to serve all customers, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Carter’s Table felt its impact.

“It was growing big time, it was a rocket ship, and then Covid hit and it just died,” Carter said. “People weren’t getting together. It’s all based on people getting together.”

Almost two years later, he’s back and better than ever. Carter loves being at the State College farmers market to once again share his meals and be surrounded by the positive energy the community emulates.

“I love seeing everyone I know here. The students are great,” Carter said. “It amazes me how powerful you guys are with connecting and putting the word out.”

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