Some of the Bronx’s most delectable food is always on the go.
The Los Viajeros food truck has been cooking up a storm at Jacobi Hospital on Wednesday afternoons for sometime now, but the origin behind Caitlyn Napolitano, the co-owner of spicy Latin food on wheels is even more savory.
She loves food and loves to eat. Growing up in an Italian family in New Jersey, it was a rite of passage for her to help make Sunday night dinner with her grandmother.
Although, it wasn’t until after studying communications at Penn State and travelling to Italy that the cooking affectionado learned and saw a “a new side of food.”
Around that time she also realized that a 9 to -5 job simply wasn’t for her, admitting she didn’t enjoy working for other people.
Family and friends constantly told Caitlyn that she simply ‘needed to be cooking for people.’
“One day my mom told me you should have a food truck,” Napolitano said.
So, when push came to shove, Caitlyn’s longtime companion and business partner Carlos Dacosta, an FDNY member in Castle Hill, converted an Entenmann’s delivery truck into their new kitchen.
Caitlyn does the cooking while Carlos does the handiwork.
She also mentioned that spending time around Carlos’ family is what inspired the food truck being steered towards Latin cuisine.
After trial and error, the duo figured out a system and began to find their usual lunch spots.
Since that time in July of 2015, the business has boomed into one of the most successful food trucks in the city.
“I have to be honest, the Bronx customers are the most particular, but they’re also the most loyal ones we have,” Caitlyn said.
Last year, Caitlyn competed on the Food Network’s Chopped, winning the grand prize.
“I practiced…a lot,” she said. “I had to start learning how to make desserts, which weren’t my forte,” the chef added.
More than practicing making desserts, Napolitano practiced keeping her composure on television.
She was used to working under high pressure and in stressful environments so the pressure of being on television didn’t get to her.
However, she did have to fight off the tendency to use foul language like Gordon Ramsay, a popular TV chef, often resorts to using.
“I just kept saying in my head, do not disgrace the family on national television,” Caitlyn joked.
Her victory brought her business great publicity and a tremendous boom to Los Viajeros.
The couple recently expanded into a brick and mortar spot in Columbus Circle.
The Hefe burrito has been the number one seller on the menu.
While reflecting on her prominent and recent success Napolitano said “I never went to culinary school and I never measure out ingredients and it works.”
Caitlyn and Carlos travel around the world exploring new flavors and ingredients for their business.
The happy couple has gone to Costa Rica, Mexico City and even Thailand to discover new hot sauces and spices for their dishes.
“Travelling is what inspires us, that’s what Los Viajeros means, The Travellers,” she said.