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National Restaurant Association - Restaurant experience drives success on wheels

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Restaurant experience drives success on wheels

Working in her uncle’s small New Jersey restaurant, a young Vicky Harris never expected to open one of D.C.’s most iconic food trucks, becoming recognized on a first-name basis by hundreds of food truck vendors and customers.

Food trucks might be relatively new, but Harris’ passion for food isn’t. She knew she wanted a restaurant industry career from a young age. At 15, she became a line cook in her uncle’s restaurant.

“I made a lot of soul food, stuff like pulled pork, mac and cheese, and cornbread,” Harris says. “I learned a lot of my signature recipes and techniques from working in the kitchen alongside my family.”

Harris enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America after high school.  By the time she was 22, she simultaneously was developing her customer service skills in front-of-the-house operations at Stephen Starr’s hospitality group and her branding techniques as an intern at a public relations firm. Eventually, she had the opportunity to combine both by co-founding and spearheading the marketing efforts of CapMac, one of D.C.’s first food trucks.

“Working in small restaurants and very small food trucks was the best learning experience I could ask for,” she says. “I’d recommend it to anyone. You learn teamwork and get so much hands-on experience that is great for career development.

“It is definitely hard work, it took six hours alone just to make a batch of one of our sauces at CapMac, but the long days feel like nothing when it’s what you love to do.”

Harris uses her experience and entrepreneurial spirit to consult local food truck and restaurant owners on consumer engagement, creative menu development and other topics. At the end of the day, she enjoys finding ways to help others prosper in her favorite industry.

“Whether you are working in a food truck or a Michelin star restaurant, you become part of somebody’s day. I find that very humbling.”

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