In 2018, Victoria Garcia was having trouble booking a food truck for the McAuliffe Elementary School International Night.
After a few failed requests, she decided to take matters into her own hands, preparing hundreds of small Mexican food samples for the attending parents, teachers, and students. To her surprise, they were an immediate hit. More than 150 people tasted Garcia’s cooking.
In that moment, Garcia realized just how much she had enjoyed cooking for other people. This experience brought back her childhood memories of learning to cook with her aunts, sisters, and mother back in Texas and during visits to her hometown of Coahuila, Mexico.
“After the International Night, these little wheels started turning in my head. I thought, if I can cook for this many people, why can’t I cook for more?” Garcia, 42, said.
So, in 2020, Garcia typed up a quick Facebook post and announced that she would be running her own Mexican food delivery service based in Sammamish – Rice, Beans & Happiness.
For Garcia, the market conditions felt right. In all of her 16 years of living in Sammamish, she had never seen a wide variety of traditional Mexican food. The closest Mexican restaurant that she considers to be “authentic” was a good 45-minute drive away, in Kent.
Furthermore, after being cooped up by the COVID-19 pandemic, Garcia was eager to try something new.
In the following weeks, her business boomed. Rice, Beans & Happiness expanded to have its own licensed commercial kitchen after six months, and took orders on its own established website.
Customer reviews have been mostly positive.
“Everything we’ve tried has been delicious but we especially like the taco kits. They come with a variety of toppings which let everyone customize how they like,” Leighann Novielli, 37, a customer, said.
Garcia’s most popular dishes have been burrito bowls and enchiladas. However, her personal favorites have been soups, especially pozoles verdes, which are chili-like meals sprinkled with hominy.
“We love to have Ms. Vicky’s food! Her sunshine personality is poured right into her home cooked meals that our family of five gets at least two meals out of,” Breanna McCleary-Childress, 39, a weekly customer, said.
Garcia said she is grateful for the collective support she has received from her family, friends, and customers over the years. To give back, she hopes to increase her cultural presence in the Sammamish community by incorporating cooking classes to Rice, Beans & Happiness.
“One of my other passions is teaching. I love being able to watch people go through that ‘aha’ moment when they realize they can cook too, and that’s what I hope I can do with these classes,” Garcia said.
With each dish, Garcia tries to add a dash of Mexican culture and a pinch of her own personal flair, valuing the connection that she has with each of her customers. After every meal that she prepares, Garcia will send her customers a quick note via email or text message, explaining the historical and cultural background of the dishes served.
“In my culture, a meal is not just about the food. It’s about the connection. I just really wanted to spread this feeling of bringing people together,” Garcia said.
If you are interested in ordering from Rice, Beans & Happiness, please visit their website.