We had the good fortune of connecting with Jackie Tran and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jackie, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I believe the success of my brand is the result of how much I value authenticity — both authenticity of how much I care about my work, along with authenticity in how I present my work.

If you’re happy in your work, you’ll perform better. And you’ll be happier when you perform better. Win-win all around.

In my writing, photography, and restaurant work, I’m selling an experience above all else. With such a high saturation of superficial marketing these days, people crave a genuine experience. Take the humble burger, for example — a corporate social media post with thousands of dollars in lighting and tweezer-placed sesame seeds may result in a beautiful image, but it will always feel like a hollow ad and not an authentic moment. People are so used to these ads now, they immediately and subconsciously think, “that’s a pretty burger, but there’s no way that’s how it will look when I open the wrapper”

Instead, imagine the post conveys that you’re sitting next to the window on a sunny day. The burger just arrived at your table and you’ll burn your roof of your mouth from taking a bite too soon, which you will do anyways because you can’t resist the smell of the grilled onions. The messy cheese and grease continues dripping onto your wrist because you didn’t grab enough napkins but you’ve already committed to another bite. Those perfect imperfections are what you actually experience with a burger, not a Stepford-symmetrical bun. These authentic expressions tickle your nostalgia and will drive you to get in your car or even plane for that burger. An not an ounce of hyperbole was needed.

That being said, staged photos have a time and place too. I like to keep it fun.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I originally wanted to be a restaurateur, but hated accounting and switched to becoming a wannabe Anthony Bourdain. Although he was a chef and then writer, I was already in college, so I decided to write and then become a chef. I graduated with my journalism degree and moved to Portland, Oregon to pick up culinary jobs, but found out quickly that my experience wasn’t relevant enough for a solid kitchen job.

With my tail between my legs, I came back in Tucson, which conveniently began to explode in the culinary world. I spent about four years years of documenting Tucson’s food scene through writing and photography for Tucson Foodie. If you’ve ever Googled any food in Tucson, chances are you’ve read multiple of my articles.

Once the pandemic started, I switched over to freelancing, filming recipe videos, and have come full circle to work on opening my food truck, Tran’s Fats. I still hate accounting, but won’t let it get it in my way of crossing off all my bucket list dreams. It will be several months before the truck is open, but keep an eye out for pop-up dinners around town.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve written countless articles covering this in various perspectives, but for funsies today, I’ll highlight Sixth Avenue as the place to be.

Just north of downtown south of Sixth Street, we’d start with coffee at Exo Roast Co., walk next door to Tap & Bottle for a beer, then return to Exo at night for a mezcal tasting at their bar, El Crisol. We’d share a pizza and seasonal veggies at Anello, then follow up with cocktails at the Royal Room.

At Sixth Avenue and 22nd Street, we’d go ham on some mariscos at Cocteleria La Palma and Sonoran hot dogs at Ruiz Hot Dogs.

Even further down Sixth Avenue, we’d go ham on tacos from Carnitas La Yoca and Taqueria Pico de Gallo.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Tucson Foodie is where most of my known work resides. I wrote over 1,000 articles and took tens of thousands of photos for them in about three years. I wouldn’t have gotten in so much practice in my writing and photography if it weren’t for my time with them. They’re also the reason I’ve connected with Tucson’s lovely and supportive community of chefs and food businesses.

Visit Tucson has helped my name reach national and international publications such as Bon Appétit and National Geographic. Their support has changed countless lives within this city, I’m sure.

El Torero gave me a place to learn some professional kitchen common sense along with a place to practice for my food truck.

And of course, I have to thank my mom for providing unconditional love my whole life.

Website: http://www.jackietranphotography.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jackie_tran_/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCroHPxndd14iS7xN5DrmT_Q

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