Charlotte Stessel has lived in Maricopa since 2002, watching the city’s food scene evolve and grow the past two decades.

When she first moved to town, food trucks were scarce. But over time they grew in popularity, eventually inspiring her to open Asian Seoul in 2019, diversifying the city’s cuisine.

“It was something that Maricopa didn’t have,” Stessel said.

Stessel’s food truck is known for Asian cuisine — her fixed menu consists of egg rolls, bowls and loaded fries. Everything else is very adaptable.

“I’m Korean, but we don’t stick to Korean,” Stessel said. “We also have fried rice, which is Chinese, and teriyaki, which is considered Japanese.”

She often adds to the menu, such as her popular dessert eggrolls and apple pie. “It all depends on what my customers want,” Stessel said.

When Stessel was raising her children, they served as her test kitchen. She experimented with different recipes and let them have the first bite.

“In order to afford good food, it’s cheaper to make it yourself,” Stessel said. “And luckily, my kids have a very wide palette. They like a lot of different foods because I would cook a lot of different foods.”

As her children got older, Stessel signed up for culinary programs at Central Arizona College and graduated in a few semesters.

She wanted to further pursue her dreams and started looking for food-truck builders and trailers.

“From the time we decided to do it to the time that we had our truck was about a year,” Stessel said. “It was a lot of trial and error.”

As the owner and head chef of Asian Seoul, Stessel’s days are filled with hours of cooking, restocking and prepping the food.

“Three hours before we open and close, I have to be there,” she said. “It’s a lot of work.”

Although Stessel is the head of operations, her children help when they can. She likes to keep the recipes in the family, cooking marinades with her son on the weekends.

“The only ones that really know the recipes are immediate family,” Stessel said. “Other than that, doing some standard prep, it’s pretty much me and my son that do all of the cooking.”

From attending city events, to adjustable working hours, Stessel enjoys the flexibility of the food truck. Especially during the summer months, when the food truck can be more than 120 degrees.

“It gets really, really brutal,” Stessel said. “Last summer, we went down to three days a week. If the temperature reached over 114, we were not open.”

In the upcoming summer months, Stessel wants to possibly hire additional staff to help with food prep and serving.

“We could reduce the amount of hours each person works and still possibly be open five days a week,” she said.

In the meantime, Asian Seoul will be serving their customers in their usual spot at 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

“It’s quite a ride,” Stessel said. “But we’re learning a lot.”