By Emily Collins Behind the Food Truck is a FoodtoEat original series where we meet the amazing men and women behind our favorite mobile cuisines and share their inspiring stories. At FoodtoEat, we’re lucky to have the best food trucks NYC has to offer in our family. Here are their stories.
This week, I was able to meet one of New York City’s local food-lebrities, Lisa Fernandes. Lisa is the passionate chef and owner behind Sweet Chili – a “Thai-etnamese” truck with a menu full of original and incredible recipes by Lisa herself! If you didn’t know already, Lisa was the runner-up on season 4 of Top Chef, so you’re literally trying some of her winning recipes from the show.
All throughout Lisa’s life, food was her passion. She started with her mom in the kitchen, served ice cream at the mall as a teen and went on to culinary school to pursue her dream of becoming a professional chef! It’s not very often you meet someone who can say they genuinely wake up every day and want to go to work, but Lisa does. She loves her customers and makes an effort to learn their names and wants the experience to be not only delicious, but entertaining! “We make it personal, we have a good time with them, we play fun music, we’re not prim and proper, ‘good afternoon, how may we help you today?’ ” And it definitely works for them. You can walk up to Sweet Chili, get on-the-go restaurant quality food, a 1980s power ballad serenade and maybe even a Vietnamese coffee sample if you’re dancing!
Her favorite thing about owning a food truck? “We have fun! People can relate to us. They say, ‘I’m not in the mood for that today, can you just make me something?’ and we just make stuff up. People like that. You can’t do that in a restaurant.” I was able to see this first hand when I asked Lisa and her team to just “make me anything” on the menu. I was served with their flavorful Heavenly Beef over white rice with bean sprout salad and was recommended by Lisa “get the fried egg on top, it makes everything better!” She was right; the dish was indeed heavenly and the fried egg? A perfect companion to the sweet and spicy dish.
At the end of the day, Lisa’s goal is to serve up unique, amazing dishes while giving the best experience to the customer, “If you’re in a good mood when you make the food, and the person’s in a good mood when they get the food, they’re going to be in a good mood when they eat the food.” You can check out Lisa and the Sweet Chili team this summer at their frequent spots, South Street Seaport and DUMBO Lot during the week and Governor’s Island on weekends for dancing to 80s and 90s jams and cooking some of the best Thai-etnamese food in New York City!
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