In addition to watching Great Food Truck Race on Sunday nights, we love learning more about the chefs featured to find out what the cameras don’t tell. Recently, we reached out to Coast of Atlanta’s Chef Lena Price to learn about how she got started in the culinary industry and how she’s trying to bring food trucks to the city of Atlanta.
FP: How did you get your start with cooking? What do you enjoy most about cooking?
LP: I enjoyed cooking even before I realized it. It all came together for me in 2005 when I lost my son Matthew (he sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident where he was the passenger). A week before he passed, I prepared Salmon Belly Quesadillas. I made them extra delish that particular time and he thoroughly enjoyed them. He said to me “Mom, why are you not showing the world your culinary creativity? You should be on Food Network because you make really good food like the chefs on there.” Three years later, I set my path towards Food Network. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make it happen but I was determined. I decided to attend culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta to learn technique and terminology i.e. sauces versus gravies. I graduated cum laude in 2009.
I’ve always loved cooking. It has become very therapeutic for me. I love the flavors, textures and the overall idea of creating great tastes for the pallet. What I love the most is when people take a bite and go “MmmmMmmmmmm!”
FP: That’s really touching. Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us.
Tell us about your experience on Great Food Truck Race. What was it like to compete with the other food trucks? Looking back would have you done anything different? What will you remember most about the experience?
LP: The Great Food Truck Race is like food truck basic training. It was hard work but at the end of the day it was one of the greatest experiences that I’ve ever had. What the masses don’t know is that although it was a competition, we are all really cool friends and I think that was the best part of it all for me. Looking back, we just “didn’t show up” as we should have. It’s obvious that we have exceptional cooking skills but there are many other aspects to the food truck business than just making good food. Marketing and securing locations [advance planning] were lacking from our team. Not to mention, Mike and I are in a real life relationship and we encountered “technical” difficulties at times and it showed. Opening a business with the one that you love can be challenging when both are so passionate about what they do.
FP: What are you up to currently? Will the city of Atlanta see a Coast of Atlanta food truck cruising the streets?
LP: Mike and I are in the slow process of putting Coast of Atlanta on the streets of Atlanta. Unfortunately, the city has not been very food truck friendly, although they are trying. We are toying with the idea of moving to another city in order to pursue our dream of owning our own food truck. Some places that we have considered moving to include Los Angeles, Ohio, Texas or Las Vegas.
FP: We’ve been to Atlanta and think food trucks would be great additions to the scene!
Besides seafood, what are some of your favorite meals to prepare when you’re home? If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in Atlanta or other cities you’ve visited.
LP: I’m a comfort food person. I crave hearty soups: She-Crab, Seafood,Bisques and chowders. Atlanta needs a good gourmet soup shop!
FP: We’re big soup and Chinese food fans ourselves!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂 Seafood is definitely one of ours!
LP: OMG I loveee seafood!!! Mike loves calamari and he made me a believer. I can devour huge servings of the deep fried deliciousness! Shhhh, don’t tell anyone but I also love food trucks! Gone are the days of “roach coaches.” You can get some totally awesome gourmet delights at food trucks.
FP: We totally agree with you about food trucks. Living in NY, we are fortunate to have access to so many!
Name any three individuals you would invite over dinner and what you would prepare for them.
LP: Masaharu Morimoto, General Colin Powell, and President Obama. I’ll have to get back with you on what I would prepare for such awesome people!!
FP: Awesome people indeed! That would be an interesting dinner for sure.
In three words, how would your friends and family describe you?
LP: Compassionate, Loyal and Funny. Despite my villainess character on The Great Food Truck Race (lmao), I am super uber compassionate and selfless. I have a desire to feed everyone in need and am an advocate for homelessness/hunger for veterans, the elderly and children.
FP: If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing? Any non-cooking hobbies? We read that you’ve traveled a lot around the world. Do you have a favorite place you’ve visited?
LP: I’m an accountant by day and it is definitely not my passion. In the throws of pursuing my CPA, I decided to drop out and attend culinary school. Cooking is what I dream about and live for!
My ultimate desire is to travel around the world assisting those in need. I’ve always wanted to pursue missionary type of work.
My favorite places are Italy, specifically the breath taking views of the Amalfi Coast. (I just had a moment of ahhhhhhhhhh). I think the South of France offers great views as well. I’m a monumental history buff, so the idea of being in the same place as [Romans] [Coliseum] just makes my soul tremble in awe.
FP: Chef Lena, thank you so much for your time! It’s always a pleasure to learn more about the people behind the contestants on the show.
We wish you the best of luck in getting your food truck out on the streets, either in Atlanta or elsewhere. Let us know so we can come by for a visit. To learn more about Chef Lena, visit http://www.twogourmetgirls.com/Meet-the-Chef.html