As an only child with a single, working mother, chef Victoria Wilson spent a lot of her childhood home alone. At age 9, she attempted to cook her first meal — frozen chicken nuggets — in a sauté pan with a lot of grease.
“I went to eat it, and it was completely mush on the inside,” she recalls with a laugh. “For some ungodly reason, I poured the hot grease into a plastic measuring cup, and it went everywhere.”
Frustrated, she cleaned up the mess and called it a night. “But that was where my intrigue for cooking started, to take some kind of product and just make it this wonderful, fantastic, tasteful meal,” Wilson says.
Since that first mushy dinner, she’s come a long way. At 17, she started working at a Bojangles on Hendersonville Road and since then has cooked everywhere from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to The Cliffs at Walnut Cove to the kitchen of the now defunct Xcapades strip club on New Leicester Highway.
But it wasn’t until Wilson, now in her 30s, met chef Zakeya Cheeks last year while cooking together at The Cliffs that either of them felt ready to embark on what had been a longtime dream for both: a kitchen to call their own. Inspired by their fast friendship and nearly identical cooking and childhood backgrounds, the duo quit their jobs in October and launched Twisted Trap Dinners, a food truck and catering business that serves what Wilson calls “gastro soul.”
“Like gastropubs, we do all kinds of different and crazy dishes,” Wilson says. “But we’re also keeping it soulful at the same time.” The business always offers a vegan option, too, she adds.
“We make the truck so you can come get that fine dining without having to dress up or pay $25 for two pieces of asparagus,” jokes Cheeks. Like Wilson, she was raised by a single, working mother and learned how to cook meals for herself as a young person before rising quickly through the ranks of fast food then entering the world of fine dining.
“Working in fast food showed me how to actually run a kitchen, because there were days when the whole kitchen would call out,” says Cheeks. “I’d have to roll out the biscuits, put everything on a grill and send the food out. It was definitely an experience.”
Because of these varied experiences, she explains, the pair are adept at creating a wide variety of cuisines, from lamb sliders to Italian sausage and peppers to jerk chicken. “We haven’t come up with a set menu,” Cheeks says. “We want to show off our skill set. And we also want to know what people respond to the best.”
While the menu and truck location are subject to change daily, a few early hits include slow-simmered and peppery Birria tacos, Mexican street corn nachos and red velvet pancakes the pair have nicknamed “trap cakes.” Wilson also says vegan dishes such as the tofu scramble and chickpea gyro have been popular.
“Basically, with us coming from not necessarily the hood, but where poverty and lower-class folks live, you know, having single moms trying to try to make it — that’s what the trap is derived from,” says Cheeks. “We’re trying to uphold the culture. There will be days where you’ll see us both tatted up with grills in our mouth, but you’re gonna get some good food.”
For up-to-date menu selections, hours and locations, see avl.mx/8md.