By Kathy Stephenson | The Salt Lake Tribune
When Julie Sheehan was handed her pink slip last year, the Salt Lake City private chef turned her job misfortune into dough.
The 45-year-old started The Torta Truck, a mobile food truck business.
Sheehan is one of several Americans featured in the 2010 What People Earn salary report. She earned $43,000 in 2010, according to the survey, which will be published in PARADE on Sunday. The magazine is distributed with The Salt Lake Tribune.
Other salaries in the survey include a glassblower from Waterbury Center, Vt., who earns $59,700; a New York celebrity stylist who earns $150,000; a Vancouver, Wash., blogger who earns $24,600; a tattoo artist from New Orleans who earns $40,000; and a dance studio owner from Richmond, Texas, who pulls in $100,000.
Sheehan said she started out 2010 as a personal chef at a Utah fitness retreat. Partway through the year, she was laid off. She had already been researching the growing food truck industry and figured losing her job was a sign it was time to jump in.
She purchased an old Frito-Lay truck, painted it blue and in November started serving panini sandwiches, salads and — her specialty — Italian torta rustica (not to be confused with Mexica torta), a type of savory tart made with a buttery crust and filled with spinach, roasted vegetables and cheese.
“My sister owns a restaurant in St. Louis and I had been helping her perfect a torta recipe,” she said. “She always sells out.”
Gourmet food trucks have been driving the culinary scene in Los Angeles, New York City and other metropolitan areas for several years. Salt Lake City joined the trend in 2010 with one truck that sells Asian tacos and sliders and another that sells cupcakes.
A personal chef for more than a decade, Sheehan worked on small private and charter boats in Seattle and Alaska before moving to Utah.
“I’m used to working in funky venues,” she said.
Tuesday through Thursday, The Torta Truck is parked at various office buildings in Salt Lake County, including Overstock.com, the International Center and eBay.