SEÑOREATA brings flavor, culture and sustainability to Great Food Truck Race, interview

SEÑOREATA ,The Great Food Truck Race, Season 15. Image courtesy Food Network
SEÑOREATA ,The Great Food Truck Race, Season 15. Image courtesy Food Network /

On The Great Food Truck Race Season 15, the Food Network show says that it is bringing the heat to the popular summer food television series. As the only plant-based food truck in this season’s competition, SEÑOREATA is determined to fire up some big flavors while adding some spice to important food conversations.

Each season of The Great Food Truck Race looks to highlight both new food trucks and talented food professionals that are making an impact on their local food scene. Although great tasting food is always the focus of the show, that delicious bite needs to be paired with smart business decisions. Earning the keys to that food truck requires all the right components, just like a perfect dish.

Recently, FoodSided spoke with SEÑOREATA about their The Great Food Truck Race experience. Regardless of the final outcome of Season 15, this opportunity was more than just proving their culinary talent. That connection to their culture is woven into everything that they do.

“Starting SEÑOREATA gave me the ability to take control of my own narrative as a first generation woman— there would be no SEÑOREATA without my roots, and I aim to show Food Network viewers how vibrant the culture is through the food we make. People in Cuba make a lot with very little, and some of the food you see on my menu you cannot actually find on the island. I’m aware of the immense privilege I have in America to access the ingredients to showcase the food I grew up with in a modern, sustainable way.”

While they appreciate the opportunity, their food and their approach need to reflect what foodies want. The message woven into the plate is vital.

Commenting on their culinary responsibilities, “I believe as chefs we have a responsibility to make delicious, innovative, and familiar food that also reflects the times we’re living in. For me, modern Cuban cuisine means using the same flavors and textures from traditional Cuban dishes without having to tap into markets, such as animal agriculture, that are leading causes of our planet’s deterioration. You can see how at SEÑOREATA, we’re working with plants to recreate the Cuban menu. Those in areas experiencing food inequity have access to free recipes on SEÑOREATA social media to recreate simple recipes of mine at home in an economically lean way. I feel it’s no longer enough to make food the way we’ve been making it for years, just for the sake of tradition. If that were the case, we’d all still be cooking over a log fire.”

While there is a story and purpose seasoning the food, many people are looking for that authentic flavor. Although some people think that they know about Cuban food, there are plenty of dishes to be discovered.

When asked about popular dishes, SEÑOREATA shared, “The Cuban Sandwich is our best seller, but Cuban food is so much more! Picadillo is a very foundational, traditional Cuban dish. It’s ground beef, bells, onions, garlic, raisins, olives, tomato sauce and spices. I call it foundational, because of the way it’s repurposed into several Cuban dishes. You can eat it on a plate with white rice, black beans, and plantains, or in a fan-favorite papa rellena (stuffed into mashed potatoes, breaded, and deep fried), or in a delicious meat pie wrapped in puff pastry. Cubans know how to make things new, by necessity. The different deliveries of picadillo make this common dish exciting any time of day. “

As people get a taste of that picadillo or another dish from the food truck, many people are drawn to SEÑOREATA because it is plant-based. But, there is more to these dishes than just fitting into a particular food style. Still, they were up for the challenge.

“Being the only plant-based truck on the season brought more challenges on the truck than it did with customers. Sourcing certain plant-based specialty ingredients while staying within our seed money budget at certain grocers and in small towns was the most challenging. We could never get everything we needed at just one store, and the more time we spent sourcing ingredients meant the less selling time we had!”

Even though The Great Food Truck Race is a competition, it is more than just food television. The experience and lessons learned can bring success going forward.

SEÑOREATA said, “The biggest takeaway for me was learning to exist in a steadfast space of confidence while also embracing fear. From time to time, I experience imposter syndrome and have had to pinch myself as a reminder of what an incredible accomplishment this was for me as a chef and business owner to have the business I built from the ground up on Food Network! The kind of stress I experienced on the show with time crunches and limitations has made it easier to take risks and get into a high functioning flow no matter where I’m cooking or how barebones my equipment is.”

And, as a woman chef, SEÑOREATA wants to set an example for other chefs, too. Specifically saying, “You’re the only one who can make it happen for you. Don’t be the person who always talks and thinks about something- do it. The fire we feel from inspiration is so finite and fleeting; be confident in yourself and your vision and pay no attention to what anyone says about it. It’s not their dream, it’s yours.”

Be sure to watch SEÑOREATA on The Great Food Truck Race Season 15. New episodes air Sunday nights on Food Network and can be streamed on discovery+.