Ludington’s Fulton sisters featured on Food Network’s ‘The Great Food Truck Race’
By Kate Krieger-Watkins, MCP correspondent
Lara (Fulton) Webster, 33, never claimed to be a world-renowned chef, but the Ludington resident did have a passion for cooking in her spare time, which she discovered after she got married to her husband, Zach.
“I discovered a passion for food early on in my marriage,” she said. “I love cooking. It relaxes me. I would play around with recipes and discovered I’m kind of OK at this. Brunch has become my passion. I love to brunch and who doesn’t like to brunch?”
Webster said she experimented with a lot of different recipes that she had seen in cookbooks, on TV or that she just thought up on her own. She had always worked in the food industry throughout high and college, so she thought maybe this was something she could take more seriously.
“I always had worked in restaurants,” she said. “I always loved it. I didn’t ever really think I could have a career in it though, but I always thought maybe it’d be a side job.”
Webster enjoyed interacting with customers and getting to see them have that moment of pleasure when they received their food. She stated that when she was attending Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, she took a job in Hudsonville at a restaurant called “Noble” and this is where she really saw her passion for food and the food industry come to life.
“I knew someday I was going to own my own restaurant,” she said. “I started working on the line for a year and I took that job to get a better understanding of the business. The owner at that time, Andrew Lamppa recognized I had a flair for food and we started helping each other out. I redesigned the platings and aspects of the menu and he showed my aspects of the business.”
Fast forward to Summer 2018, Webster, along with her sister Mariah (Fulton) Sniegowski, 21 and cousin Lydia Van Wormer, 34 decided to take a chance and signed up to be a possible contestant on the Food Network’s popular show “The Great Food Truck Race.”
“It was my idea,” Webster said. “I had seen seasons in years past and I enjoyed it, but I never thought about trying to be on TV. I had been looking for an opportunity and I was sitting at the counter one day on my computer and the casting call popped up. I called Mariah as told her we she apply as a joke.”
The three had to come up with a concept, pictures and background biographies to send to the network. Webster said the name Brunch Babes just came to her while she was trying to come up with something and that’s what they went with.
“Food was how our family celebrated things,” Webster said. “I knew it was a long shot signing up, but we did it. Lydia was a good home cook and had worked in the front of the house at many places and all our grandmas were cooks. Food has always been central to basically everything we do.”
Early 2019, Webster received a phone message that she almost deleted from Food Network informing her that the Brunch Babes concept was one of the nine chosen to participate on the show.
“I get a lot of spam calls,” she said. “I happened to look at the transcription of the voicemail and saw it said something about Food Network, so I listened. I had kind of forgotten we even applied and this was saying we made it and I almost deleted it.”
The three gathered up the things they would need being away from family and headed to started filming the show, which took place throughout the southern United States, starting in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
“None of us had ever worked in a food truck before,” Webster said. “There are similarities and differences comparing them to a restaurant. We were hoping since we had no experience, maybe no one else did either, but I was wrong. We were the only ones who didn’t have some major food experiences on our resumes. I started to wonder if they brought us on to be the comic relief for good television.”
Not knowing what to expect, the three ladies headed into their first day of filming, just knowing they were in for a lot of surprises and an amazing opportunity to put their creations in front of famous chef and the show’s host Tyler Florence.
“We didn’t sign up for TV at all,” Webster said. “We just wanted to put our food in front of a real chef and see if he thought it was good. Would he think I was a real cook? We just were focused on that first day on making good food and on competing and we really forgot what was going on.”
The Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” premieres tonight at 9 p.m. and runs until the finale at 9 p.m., Sunday, July 28.
“It was a lot of fun,” Webster said “We’d definitely do it again. It was a unique experience. I’m excited to see what happened that first competition behind the walls of the other trucks. Everyone had the same goal and that was just to try and make it through the first week.”
Webster said that she still wants to have some type of connection with food and she is looking for the right fit for her ideas.
“There will be no Brunch Babes food truck rolling down the street yet,” she said. “Nothing is concrete yet. We are just going to see what happens.”
With support from her family during her time competing, Webster also had another speed bump in the way. She found out she was pregnant with her third child when she got the call they were going to be competing and when she left she was in her second trimester.
“I had great support from my family,” she said “Zach was the one who really pushed me to do it and he really did amazing taking care of our kid, Jayden, 7 and Ava, 4. My mom and Zach’s mom, Cathy really stepped up too. Thank goodness for my mom. She’s so busy, but she helped out so much.”
This opportunity would be a memory the three would have for the rest of their lives and Webster is so grateful for that.
“I’m so thankful I got to do this with family,” she said. “I was taken out of my comfort zone, so to have family there to share this experience with, that was really neat. I don’t know how someone could just leave home and do it alone. We three have these memories forever.”