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October 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Features


Lone Star Chuck Wagon
and The Great Food Truck Race

A competitor from The Woodlands shows how it’s done—Texas style.

by Laura Jackson

Competing against seven other national teams in the fifth season of Food Network’s successful series, The Great Food Truck Race, Lone Star Chuck Wagon, the Texas-based team, gave viewers from around the country an excellent taste of true Tex-Mex at its best.

On a high-stakes culinary road trip traveling from Southern California to the beaches of Key West, FL, each team was provided with a vehicle for the race—and a chance at walking away with their own food truck and $50,000 to start their business. Gaining valuable experience with each new challenge and city, the rookie teams soon learned that running a food truck is harder than it looks.

Lone Star Chuck Wagon’s fearless leader, Lance Kramer, grew up in The Woodlands, competed in barbecue competitions for years, where he won against trained chefs, and has even developed his own line of sauces and rubs. With the support of his wife, Rachel Young, and their best friend, Andrea Chesley, he came to the race trained and ready to bring Texas-style home cooking to hungry people across the nation. Lance’s favorite aspect of The Great Food Truck Race was the spontaneity of it all: “It was also my least favorite part! We never knew where we were going next, or what curveball the host Tyler Florence was going to throw at us. It was exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time. Traveling the country, doing what we love was amazing!”

Naturally, growing up in Houston influenced Kramer’s cooking style. “When I was young in The Woodlands, there was only one restaurant, so my family would always drive to Houston for good eats,” he recalls. “With Houston’s melting pot of cultures, we were exposed to a wide variety of foods. This opened up my palate and made me very adventurous.”

His fondest memories of learning to cook are with his grandparents. “My grandma had a step stool, and I would climb up it and help her in the kitchen. She always let me help, and if I close my eyes, I can still smell her amazing cooking. And in my grandpa’s arms, he would let me flip burgers on the grill before I was even tall enough to see them!” All that true Texas training definitely paid off.

For fun photo galleries, blogs and video clips of the show, visit www.foodnetwork.com.

Worth the Wait

pixelstudioproductions.com-1737Billboard Bride Channing says to hold out for love.

By Laurette M. Veres • Photography by Pixel Studio Productions

Channing Smith was spending the day at the Kemah Boardwalk with her cherished nieces and boyfriend. The young girls were having caricatures drawn, so Brian and Channing decided to get one as well. The artist revealed his work; he had drawn a large ring on Channing’s finger. “As I turned to ask Brian if he liked the picture, I saw him down on one knee,” she says. As soon as she accepted his proposal, family members appeared, nieces cheered and strangers high-fived.

Brian Morvant pulled off the perfect engagement. The whole day by the water was a setup; the nieces were bait. Her family was in on the gig, watching from behind the bushes, and her sister was there with the trusty video camera to capture the entire proposal.

The icing on the cake: The Bridal Extravaganza Show selected Channing to be the Billboard Bride. Like a few lucky brides before her, she too will appear on giant billboards all over the greater Houston area. Hundreds of thousands of motorists will see her beautiful smile during their daily commutes.

Channing’s message to future brides: “Resist pressures created by mainstream and social media. Forget about crazy, unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves based on Facebook, Pinterest, reality TV and Instagram. Work on being healthy, happy and being you.”

There is no perfect life, yet we race to meet “norms” we see on social media. Married right out of college, buy a house, have kids; that’s someone’s life, it may even be a good life, but don’t feel it has to be your life. It’s okay to feel something better is out there and search to find it.

Channing threw away a chance at the “normal life” and waited to find the right man. “I felt like I had nothing worthwhile to post on social media; no picture-perfect engagement photos, no romantic weddings shots and definitely no cute, cuddly pictures of my non-existent kids! I started feeling bad about myself despite having a wonderful life. Looking back, I realize how foolish this was, however, it was a real struggle.”

Many brides can have unrealistic expectations, wanting gowns, décor and more based on what they see on Facebook, Pinterest and reality TV.  “I’ve been to a ton of weddings, and none of them look like those I see on Pinterest. Why not? Because that isn’t the norm,” says Channing. “I’ve joked many times, my Pinterest wedding costs $90,000; my real wedding will cost a third of that!”

Channing feels everyone’s fairy tale comes true, some just take an alternate path; some have a different vision of what their fairy tale may be. She encourages people to follow their hearts and souls, not www.buzzfeed.com.

Brian, the LSU Tiger, and Channing, the Texas A&M Aggie, are planning a fall wedding at Crystal Springs in Magnolia, TX. The one hitch to setting the hitching date: “Checking LSU’s football schedule,” she says. “Seriously!” It’s no Aggie joke; these two SEC rivals will have to find a way to get along during the annual LSU/A&M matchup. 

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