"I didn't think it was real," said Chris Paciora when the Food Network called her asking her about her food truck business "Spice it Up!"
Paciora was a fan of the show The Great Food Truck Race, even before she ran her own mobile eatery business. " I even went as far as to tell my family, 'I'm going to be on that show some day." The show pits seven of the best food trucks from around the country against each other in a 2,500 cross-country journey. The most successful truck wins $50,000.
Now the cameras are off, the taping of the latest season of the show is finished and Paciora & her Food Truck will make their network debut this Sunday along with 6 other food trucks from around the country. And she says it's been a dream come true.
"It's the toughest thing I've ever done. The entire show was a roller coaster of emotions. I can't even put into words, the entire experience. I can tell you, what you see in the show is real." But she also says the journey she has had has been absolutely worth it and that the show itself has made every single sacrifice worth it.
So why her food truck?
Paciora says, "Spice it Up!" is all about flavor. Spicy and hot are menu options but ethnic and savory flavors are where her cooking stands out.
"Our number one seller is the Cambodian Ginger Beef," said Paciora. "It was 33 ingredients and takes hours of preparation. Everything is made from scratch. We even grind our own spices."
Dishes like Tikka Masala and curries are also a staple of her food truck menu.
"I haven't traveled to a lot of these countries so my way of experiencing them is through their food," said Paciora. She says her family has really contributed to her concept with dinners centered around "theme nights," where the family tried new types of foods and learned about the country of origin.
Paciora and her passion for cooking have certainly come a long way from cooking as a child, to making ethnic food for her family, and then working catering events around the Valley. But she says the time and love that goes into every dish she makes is the key to her success so far.
As far as what she's learned? "That I can do it. For a long time I felt very stifled, I always felt like I had more to offer. And now that I have 'it', the sky's the limit."
She says seeing customers savor the dishes she hands out of her truck window and having people come back to the food truck to tell her how great her food is, is the best feeling in the world.
"Handing the meal out the window and watching people's reaction to my food. That's what makes me happy," said Paciora.
If you are interested in trying Spice It up! They participate in Food Truck Friday at the Phoenix Marker Square from 11:00 - 1:30 p.m. You can also follow them on Facebook & Twitter for special occasions.
The Great Food Truck Race, 6-episode series premieres August 23rd at 9 p.m. (ET).