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DALLAS Arrow

Isaac Rousso: Concessionaire Extraordinaire

How this humble restaurateur stayed persistently determined as he rose to success at the State Fair of Texas.

Every year for eight years in a row, concessionaire Isaac Rousso eagerly walked out to his mailbox only to find a letter that contained profoundly-deflating news which read something like this: Thank you for applying for the State Fair of Texas. There are more applicants than space available. Your application has been denied. But according to the hard-working and persistently-determined Rousso, What defines you is not your success; it's how you handle failure. So persevering until the opportunity to become a fairgrounds vendor ultimately arrived, this fried-food inventor fully embraced the chance he'd been given and told his family, We're gonna do whatever it takes to be successful.


I'm passionate about my family. I live for my children. I live for my wife. Everything that I do is for them.

Now a three-time winner of the highly-coveted Big Tex Choice Awards for innovative creations like his Smoky Bacon Margarita, Deep Fried Cuban Roll, and this year's Cookie Fries, Rousso has risen in achievement over the past decade thereby placing his name alongside iconic State Fair families like the Fletchers, Nevins, Newports, and Zables.


Isaac Rousso: Concessionaire Extraordinaire | State Fair of Texas and State Fair Treats | Dallas, Texas, USA


Spinning the Dream


The Dallas native credits the guidance and ethics of his parents as the crux and the roots of where he is today. After emigrating from Cuba in 1962, Rousso's mom and dad owned a West Dallas clothing store where he spent his Saturdays as a boy breaking down boxes and helping with general cleanup efforts. But what really fascinated this 10-year-old budding entrepreneur was the action happening outside on the street as a young guy would pull up in a trailer, open the door, and set up his corn dog fryers. Standing by one day with wide-eyed curiosity, Isaac was offered a chance to try his hand at spinning cotton candy. And it was at that life-changing moment in time when he realized, Wow, this is a lot of fun!


I never could've imagined that I'd be here doing this, he now says about the latest advancements in his food-industry career, but the fact is that it started back then. My parents showed me by example that if you work hard, good things can happen. A lot of times, people just feel they're owed it; and there's nothing that's going to be given to you. You have to get out there and grab it.


Isaac Rousso: Concessionaire Extraordinaire | State Fair of Texas and State Fair Treats | Dallas, Texas, USA


A Family, A Fair


The necessary support for Rousso's ever-evolving venture comes by way of a united all-hands-on-deck approach collectively offered by the members of his household throughout the entire year. It's not like I walk up to the fairgrounds in September the week before the Fair starts and set up, he explains. We are living this year round, and my family lives it also. While 9-year-old daughter Sarah interacts with customers and acts as a taste-testing guinea pig for new ideas, 13-year-old son Joey also works in the kitchen as an expression of his own developing passion for food service. Joey's emotional investment in the painstaking work was evidenced to many in 2015 when his enthusiastic hug and congratulatory response for his dad's accomplishments happened to be captured on video footage which received over 50,000 views online.



But it's Rousso's wife Lily that he considers to be the real anchor of their family. I couldn't be where I'm at if it wasn't for her, he muses. My wife is the rock that has really truly given me the inspiration. She's never crushed any dream; she's always been the one encouraging me to believe and dream big. And having someone that loves you like that, that supports you – it almost kind of validates the hard work because there are ballet recitals that you miss sometimes and there are football games that you want to go to, but this is our life.


With a goal of creating a legacy and a hope that his children will follow in his footsteps, Rousso considers himself extremely blessed and admits that every step he takes is to be able to pay it forward to his wife and children. I'm passionate about my family. I live for my children. I live for my wife. Everything that I do is for them. They are part of this. This is who we are.


Isaac Rousso: Concessionaire Extraordinaire | State Fair of Texas and State Fair Treats | Dallas, Texas, USA


Step Right Up


Not only has Rousso thrilled hungry fairgoers year after year with award-winning creations, but he's also concocted a number of attention-worthy competition finalists like his savory Cowboy Corn Crunch and Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet covered with whipped cream and blueberry compote. The most current menu items are offered for 24 days each year at State Fair locations including the Taste of Cuba booth (in the Cotton Bowl Plaza) as well as the Magnolia Beer Garden, Magnolia Pavilion, and Magnolia Smokehouse (through Gate 5 across from the Old Mill Inn), and the new Craft Beer Terrace (on Nimitz Drive). His concepts are also presented at area festivals like Taste Addison, Richardson's Wildflower festival, Main Street Arts Festival in Fort Worth, and more.


And as he embarks on this next leg of his life's fantastically-whimsical journey, he's not likely to forget all that it has taken to get there or the sustaining influence of people who've faithfully help curate his vision along the way such as his late father who passed away just a few years ago. At a celebratory event recently, Isaac Rousso half-whispered with a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes as he said, I've been the luckiest man to have parents who have supported my dreams, and I want my children to learn from me. And they have, and they see my passion. I'm so proud of my kids because they love what we do and they love to serve the public, and I couldn't ask for more.


For more information about State Fair Treats and other concessions by Isaac Rousso, visit online at:
State Fair of Texas

RELATED STORIES

State Fair of Texas Announces Winners of the 2016 Big Tex Choice Awards

News | 8/28/16

Best Taste goes to Ruth Hauntz for Fried Jell-O, while Isaac Rousso takes the title of Most Creative for his State Fair Cookie Fries.

State Fair of Texas Ticket Information, Discounts, Attractions, Big Tex Choice Awards, and More

Events | Information

Since its inception in 1886, the State Fair of Texas has celebrated all things Texan by promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement.
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