2 Girls Jamaican Tacos celebrates food bringing people together, interview

2 Girls Jamaican Tacos: Shelly Flash (Head Chef), Elijah Mcphie (Prep), Bri Labossiere (Hype Person), as seen on The Great Food Truck Race, Season 16.
2 Girls Jamaican Tacos: Shelly Flash (Head Chef), Elijah Mcphie (Prep), Bri Labossiere (Hype Person), as seen on The Great Food Truck Race, Season 16. /

On the new season The Great Food Truck Race, 2 Girls Jamaican Tacos might be part of the rookie team, but they have had experience in the food world. Although this Food Network competition is more than just the best tasting plate of food, the reality is that these food entrepreneurs are ready for the challenge. How it all plays out on The Great Food Truck Race David vs Goliath remains to be seen, but everyone is excited to watch their journey.

While their name on the show is 2 Girls Jamaican Tacos, the contestants New York NYCWFF best taco winner is known as 2 Girls & a Cookshop. The pop-up restaurant and catering business has many people craving their bold, flavorful dishes.

In addition, one of the team members might be familiar to food television fans. Shelly had previously appeared on two seasons of MasterChef.

When asked about their culinary competition experience and whether it would help in this Food Network competition, 2 Girls Jamaican Tacos shared, “Being on a culinary competition prior to being on Food Network prepared me somewhat but you’re really truly never prepared to participate in something of this magnitude. And I’ve never worked on food truck before so the opportunity came with lots of twists and turns. Being up for challenges, the unexpected, and having a level of figured-it-out-ness came into play, but that’s naturally who I am. But nothing prepares you for something like this.”

Although the food business has a strong following in New York City, The Great Food Truck Race David vs Goliath is based in Los Angeles this season. A familiar city can be daunting for any business. For these chefs, they learned that getting people to excited about their food was vital to the competition.

2 Girls Jamaican Tacos on the Great Food Truck Race
2 Girls Jamaican Tacos: Shelly Flash (Head Chef), Elijah Mcphie (Prep), Bri Labossiere (Hype Person), as seen on The Great Food Truck Race, Season 16. /

2 Girls Jamaican Tacos said, “Without a doubt, the most daunting was the unfamiliarity of the city of LA. It took active social media, existing business savvy and trying new things because if it works back home it didn’t necessarily mean it was going to work there. So that level of unfamiliarity, was intense. Will we be well received, learn the truck in time, find ingredients, the right parking – so many elements were just unknown. But I will my background in culinary definitely helped me to pivot, think on the fly, come up with alternatives and substitutions and always reminded me that it’s about the food and the connection to people.”

While many people assume that the food truck will feature jerk seasoning, it is the group’s vegan offerings that make a big impression. Understands that a food truck needs to bring everyone to the table, and that means offering all types of menu choices.

Speaking to their vegan choices, 2 Girls Jamaican Tacos stated, “Thank you for mentioning our vegan options – they are very popular and we are so proud of them. It’s about having options because food is universal and bringing culture and people together. I won’t ever limit myself to just one thing.”

Further explaining their menu, they said, “2 Girls prides ourselves on being about to feed everyone no matter what their dietary preferences are. From Jerk Chicken to Escovitch to Ital – we want to feed everyone, especially in our communities. Being plant-based will change our lives for generations and we make sure to keep the flavors of home at the forefront.”

Still, when people want to experience Jamaican food, they tend to focus on a familiar concept, jerk. Recently, 2 Girls Jamaican Tacos received high praise for the offering.

They said, “We received honorable mention for best Jerk by Little Caribbean in Brooklyn. It was really special to us. And it highlighted the fact that you don’t have to have four walls, brick and mortar, to be seen and your food to be heard and received.”

“Our jerk is unique, and I would say great, because it’s something that is balanced and welcoming, it’s nostalgic. I don’t believe in blowing out someone’s palate by making something too spicy. Our jerk has a balance of sweetness and smokiness. It has the heat that everybody loves from jerk but then we make sure it’s paired with other ingredients like our coconut rice, our sweet plants and the acidity from our pickled cabbage. That tangy and coolness of our sour cream. Everything marries together and allows our perfect bite to be unique to 2 Girls flavor!”

Although many people are looking to expand their appreciation for all types of cuisine, that connection between food and culture runs deep. Instead of looking at the differences, food can open the conversation to appreciating the commonalities.

2 Girls Jamaican Tacos said, “In Jamaica, we like to say “out of many, one people.” At 2 Girls we like to say “out of many. one culture.” So our motto alone, our slogan, is representative of bringing people to the table for a better, deeper and more connected understanding of food and culture. Our food is a vessel and a conversation piece. Our food is representative of so many people. It is something that is nostalgic and unique at the same time. It’s going to transport you to a place of familiarity, but it’s also going to introduce something new to your palette and food journey. Every time you take a bite we’re bringing people together. And we take a lot of pride in the fact that our food is about culture blending and tells a story while you eat. We want to make sure that we’re always paying homage, inviting you in to tell your remember when story or create a new story.”

While that story is vital to not only flavoring the food on the table but also the memory, it is the women behind the business that need to drive the success. Although they are dependent on the customer, they need to feel empowered in their choices.

When asked about both the struggles and the benefits of being a Black woman business owner, they said, “As a Black woman business owner – wow – benefits, struggles, combinations of the two! We already know it’s hard being a Black woman, especially in the male dominated space of food is extra hard. From not being seen or represented to being the ones that often times are the ones teaching people how to cook. It’s difficult to maintain and share our stories and still not be recognized. Also, the physicality of it all is hard – it’s very physical labor. But on the flip side, the benefits are the fact that we have so much resiliency. So much grit and this level of intuitiveness that is unique and sensitive. We’re able to curate these experiences through food and translate messages and stories in the culinary industry that we share delicately and with levels of depth and flavor.”

Even though the path may not be the simplest one, they said, “It pushes me. I will be seen. I will be heard. I will be representative of our culture and I’ll do it with grace. We are representation for young people, other women, and my peers.”

Although Food Network fans will watch The Great Food Truck Race David vs Goliath every week to watch the food trucks process, 2 Girls Jamaican Tacos looks to be rolling into a variety of successful endeavors.

When asked, they shared, “Sky’s the limit. But immediately on the horizon, we are diving head first into our catering and event experiences so we can continue to bring our culture to the people. We are doing some amazing activations like Smorgasburg Prospect Park and BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn. We’ll also be at Essence Festival in New Orleans.”

“We will continue to cook and smile and by 2024 we plan to be in households across the country with our product line of sauces, rubs and juices. 2 Girls will continue to spread love through food and bring that joy of cooking and smiling to so many people no matter where you are and what your experience is. In our mind and hearts, everyone is 2 Girls!”

New episodes of The Great Food Truck Race David vs Goliath air Sunday nights on Food Network and episodes can be streamed on MAX.

More information on 2 Girls and Cookshop can be found on their website.