Next Stop for “The Great Food Truck Race” on The Food Network: A Vegan Chef
Food shows are multiplying like hot cakes. The latest entry into the bake-offs and chef wars is The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network. And to really spice things up the producers are pitting a vegan chef against the rest of the fleet. The highly anticipated 15th season of the challenging reality competition will feature the team behind Los Angeles-based Cuban restaurant Señoreata. The vegan chef will compete against eight other teams, attempting to prepare the best dishes while racing across Southern California in Food Trucks. The winning team will win $50,000.
The Señoreata team will be led by the founder Evanice Holz, who will enlist Chely Saludado and Adri Law for the duration of the food truck competition. The team will compete in The Great Food Truck Race’s “Hottest Season Ever” across the California desert. Other competitors include Southern Pride Asian Fusion, Maybe Cheese Born With It, Salsa Queen, Saute Kings, Girl’s Got Balls, Eso Artisanal Pasta, and Amawale’s South African Kitchen.
“I’ve been watching Food Network since I was a kid, and to be on there was always a dream growing up,” Holz told VegNews. “It’s such an honor to not only represent my Cuban culture but to also represent plant-based [cuisine] on nationwide television on such a reputable network that everyone knows. Seeing Señoreata up there shows me how far I’ve come in five years building this business from the ground up.”
Holz is Veganizing Her Traditional Family Dishes
Missing her family’s Cuban cooking, Holz founded Señoreata in 2017 to recreate the meals of her childhood with fully plant-based ingredients. Initially, the vegan entrepreneur hosted the pop-up kitchen from her car, and now, Señoeata has gained a cult following. Holz noted the difficulties of launching a pop-up, but the chef was determined to produce her plant-based take on Cuban American cuisine.
“We started five years ago and we’re still working out of my car,” Holz told L.A. Weekly. “We pop up out of my Toyota Prius. This whole outdoor kitchen set-up in front of you goes in my car. I might not be able to see all the way, but somehow it works. Right now it’s second nature because I’ve been doing it for so long, but you have to have quite the passion to sustain a business in this way.
“You’re gritting your teeth a lot. Strapping your boots on to get ready for a whole day. It’s not like in a restaurant where you turn off the lights and lock the door. When we’re done here, we have to clean it all up, pack it into the car and load it back into my garage at the end of the day. The day starts at 7 a.m., and ends at 6 p.m. when the event is from 10 to 4.”
When Holz went vegan as a teenager, she started asking her father and grandmother for recipes and transformed them to fit her new vegan diet. Now, the vegan chef delivers Cubano sandwiches with jackfruit lechon, vegan Croquetas, plant-based ropa vieja, and more.
“It didn’t take long to veganize the recipes,” Holz said. “When I got the recipes from my grandmother and my father, I realized that 90 percent of the recipe is plant-based. All I had to replace was the protein. Once I found the substitutes, it was really easy. Conceptually, when you’re going from being omnivorous to being plant-based, it seems very overwhelming. My whole culture is meat, but I realized that what balances everything is already plant-based. The work was kind of cut out for me, it was just about fine-tuning everything.”
Joining The Great Food Truck Race, Holz is determined to share her plant-based cooking with the world. Currently, customers can find her food at SmorgasburgLA on Sunday and at various locations around Southern California. Señoreata updates its locations and pop-ups via its Instagram. Holz and her team will showcase their best vegan eats every Sunday at 6 p.m. on The Food Network.
“I think we might inspire other people to put more plant-based dishes on their menu because they see, ‘Oh, maybe there’s something to this,’” Holz said to VegNews. “I know there’s still a lot of people who think plant-based food is something foreign, but I think if you release the stigma behind vegan food, [we can] unwrap it, bring it back to basics, and serve it in a way that is culturally relevant.”
Vegan Cooks Take on the Food Network
Holz and the Señoreata team will join a growing portfolio of vegan and plant-based chefs that have taken on Food Network television shows. Last May, Gordon Ramsay invited two plant-based chefs to compete in the “Young Guns” season of Hell’s Kitchen. Both Josie Clemes and Emily Hersh became the first two chefs to showcase vegan and vegetarian cuisine exclusively in the show’s 20 seasons.
This January, legendary celebrity chef Bobby Flay learned a lesson from his show’s first vegan contestant. For the first time in the show's 30-season run, Beat Bobby Flay invited vegan chefs Tamearra Dyson and Adyre Mason to compete against him, with Dyson ultimately triumphing over the Food Network star.
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