Truck stop chain hires new chef to ‘elevate’ dining experience

March 17, 2023

Ryan Witkowski


If you’re an avid diner at any of the over 285 TravelCenters of America locations across the U.S., you may notice a gourmet touch coming soon to the menu.

On March 14, the company announced Chef Maira Isabel as TA’s corporate executive chef. According to the truck stop giant, Isabel “will focus on adding flavorful, healthy offerings and integrating food trends and regional specialties into the menus of TA’s Country Pride and Iron Skillet restaurants.”

Prior to joining TA, Isabel was a corporate executive chef and vice president of research and development for Wild Wing Cafe, Backyard Burgers, and Schlotzsky’s/ FOCUS Brands. A best-selling cookbook author, Isabel’s “Gourmet Para Todos Los Días” (Gourmet for Every Day), was the No. 1 cookbook in Puerto Rico for more than 10 straight weeks.

Her career has spanned outside the kitchen as well, working as a chef and on-air talent for multiple television shows. Isabel’s work has been featured on Telemundo International, Univision Puerto Rico, Fox-Utilisima and WIPR, and as the Puerto Rico hostess of Bizarre Foods” on Travel Channel.

“Chef Maira’s diverse background working in restaurants around the world, coupled with her sincere passion and enthusiasm, will elevate the sit-down dining experience at our travel centers,” Lloyd Sanford, senior vice president of hospitality for TA, said in a statement. “Every culinary decision will be focused on ensuring we deliver on our mission of returning every traveler to the road better than they came.”

This isn’t TA’s first attempt to redefine truck stop food by bringing a more upscale approach. In January, the company opened the first of its new proprietary restaurants – Fork and Compass – at the Petro Shopping Center in Perrysburg, Ohio.

The new concept, according to a news release, is “designed to be a destination spot for the community,” and features a newly designed menu – including a mac and cheese bar. The new restaurant is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“The new design layout fosters a relaxing environment with various seating options, including booths, counter seats, a large community table for family and friends to gather, or a more intimate setting for two near the ‘fireplace,’” the company said in a statement.

Time will certainly tell if this will actually lead to better, more tasty options at TA locations. However, if the food on Isabel’s website is any indication, I’m willing to at least hear her out. LL

More business news is available on LandLine.Media.