Patriotic and Proud

This past season of Great Food Truck Race had its share of engaging stories behind each team. Who could forget the Military Moms team comprised of Carol Rosenberg, Michele Bajakian and Wendy Newman? All three have active duty husbands stationed with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in Northern New York. We reached out to Carol Rosenberg, a trained chef and leader of the team, to learn more about her and the team’s experience on the show.

Military Moms Team: Michele Bajakian, Carol Rosenberg,  and Wendy Newman (L-R)
Military Moms Team: Michele Bajakian, Carol Rosenberg, and Wendy Newman (L-R)

FP: We love the concept of Military Moms Food Truck. How did the concept evolve?

CR: Before the concept of The Military Moms Truck evolved, I actually applied to be on season 4 of The Great Food Truck Race. I wasn’t contacted to compete in that season, but I must have gotten someone’s attention because they contacted me for season 5. I had a strange feeling (my husband thinks its crazy but I have a history of strange good luck!) I would be cast if I had a great concept. I originally applied with two different people but one’s husband was deployed so she couldn’t come and the other wasn’t a military spouse. She had worked as my assistant with a private chef gig I had with the Busch family and lived in Minnesota.

So when I resubmitted my application I picked two military spouses, which I knew would make us unique and also super simplified my food to race! Comfort food is a broad base of good food and I just put a little twist in mine. I named the sandwiches with fun military names to further set us apart. The Private Jelly is actually made with a homemade peanut butter, sprinkled with toasted nuts and a homemade jam also sprinkled with fresh berries. The Sergeant Jelly is made with a pile of bacon, lots of sharp cheddar cheese and a drizzle of spicy jam! Its not expected but yet oh so delish! The Charlie Fox Trot was barely mentioned on the show but it’s  made with ground beef, andouille sausage, onions, spicy tomatoes, okra and rice. Its a twist on a sloppy joe, but much more fun to call it a Charlie Fox Trot! Its served on a toasted bun and topped with a couple of crunchy onions.

FP: Definitely some creative and delicious concepts!

Tell us about your experience on the show.  

Being on The Great Food Truck Race was an amazing experience for all of us! It was the most intense, high anxiety, thrill ride of a lifetime! The cast and crew were amazing. We had such a talented team of producers, camera, and sound crews that showcased us as very classy, which is what we have been told. It was a blast! It is so much harder than it looks and it was simply amazing to see what goes into a T.V. show.

FP: What was it like to compete with the other food trucks? 

CR: We kept a pretty low profile and got along with everyone. We felt a lot of respect from the cast and crew being military spouses and they were shy to tell us. Thank you all, it was felt by all three of us.

FP: Looking back would have you done anything different?

CR: Looking back, I would have trusted my instincts a little more. I took two rookies with no real cooking experience and a couple times I doubted myself and shouldn’t have but it is what it is. I learned that my guts are pretty good when it comes to food.

FP: What will you remember most about the experience? 

CR: I think I can speak for all three of us that the best part was the people we met, the people who stood in line for hours to try our food! Food is powerful stuff.

FP: So true!

Which city was your favorite?

CR: Tucson was our favorite. It was amazing to pull up to a vacant parking lot with a huge line of people who had come out to support us. Thank you Tucson! Our social media went nuts and people said and continue to say the nicest things. There were so many heartwarming messages you didn’t see on T.V. Our military really rallied behind us and we couldn’t stop them from donating money to us so we actually just took all that money and donated it to the Fisher House, this past weekend at the Army 10Miler, thank you!

FP: Besides Military Moms Food Truck, what is currently keeping you and other Military Moms busy? 

CR: Being moms and military spouses keeps us all busy and we all spend time volunteering in our communities. Wendy is working now so she stays busy with work and her three sons. We don’t see her as much as she lives about an hour from here in Canada. Michele has two kids with busy schedules as she spends time driving them to and from activities. She is also involved with lots of volunteering with her husband’s unit. I spend my time working on truck stuff. Our youngest is still at home so I taxi him around but he starts driving next month! I volunteer at the school on a couple of boards and auction my chef skills off a couple times a year. Recently, I just did a dinner for a bunch of local doctors whose donation went for some high speed medical equipment for our local hospital.

FP: Great to hear that you all are keeping busy while also giving back to the community!

What are some of your favorite meals to prepare when you are home?

CR: After graduating, I ended up as a private chef, which I think lends itself to being a well rounded chef so I wasn’t cooking the same thing day after day. People ask me all the time what’s my favorite thing to cook and thats a really hard question for me. I can cook just about anything and I like all sorts of food so I’m a pretty adventurous chef. That wasn’t seen on the show at all as I took food that was really simple to prepare, and out the door fast.  I can cook Asian, Indian, Mexican, great Italian, and German just to name a few. I canned four bushels of tomatoes this year and froze as many in corn.  I make a mean spicy corn chowder people will see on my truck when its up and running along side some homemade cheddar crackers and a smoked brisket chili.

FP: Sounds like your kitchen is the place to be!

If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in Fort Drum, NY or other cities you’ve visited.

CR: When I do go out here I go to Jose O’Connor’s, in Carthage New York, which is my favorite place.

FP: What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂

CR: It’s such a guilty pleasure of mine and its embarrassing, but I love malted milk balls. I can’t help myself and I don’t like to share! But give me comfort food any day of the week. A great sandwich will do it for me. I’m talking a braised beef and cheddar on toasted sourdough, a toasted tuna with avocado and cheese. Don’t even get me started on some homemade scalloped potatoes with some fontina and caramelized onions. I love me some good old soul food too, slow cooked collard greens with a pinch of sugar and bacon and spicy fried chicken. Being married to a military man has its perks as we have lived all over the States and also have spent time overseas we have eaten everywhere and everything! Kase Spatzle is so stinky and good after skiing in Austria.

FP: It’s great that you’ve been able to travel and taste the food from so many different places!

Will the people in Fort Drum, NY (or another city) see a Military Moms Food Truck cruising The streets in the near future?

CR: As far as the truck, there is good and some bad news. The one I had hidden away in a barn had some engine issues and needed $1,300 worth of repairs, ouch! It will be off to the builder to be swanked out very soon. I will be launching a Kickstarter program soon, hoping to get as much support as we did on the race. It’s not cheap to have a restaurant on wheels but it’s the only way for me as a military spouse to take it with me. I am hoping it turns into more opportunities to get other military spouses into mobile kitchens. I love how the Food Network branded us and we have so much diversity in the military community and comfort food is different for all of us. I would love to branch out and have trucks on other military bases in the U.S. serving comfort food to soldiers everywhere. We are sometimes away from big cities so we don’t have as many food choices as you would in one so it would be a way to offer great food to lots of people.

I love the idea of having Military Moms Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. Fort Drum will for sure see the first one roll out here in the north country as it’s hard to miss the pink camo even in the snow! It’s been a long time coming as I put it all on hold to go on the show. I will be so proud to serve and finally be up and open!

FP: Thank you so much for your time. We wish you the best of luck with your food truck! 

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