It takes a mad, sweet-toothed culinary genius to add Nutella to a Choco Taco, and Carmen Fuentes is happy to assume that mantle.
“I know, that’s horrible,” she says with a laugh. “Food makes me extremely happy.”
The 24-year-old Puerto Rican has a dreamy look in her eyes as she waxes poetic about Brie, fresh mozzarella on Wheat Thins and the flaming saganaki at Cava Mezze in Washington. But even her favorite foods can’t compare to the satisfying taste of working on Capitol Hill.
“When I was three, I decided that I wanted to move to D.C. and work on the Hill,” Fuentes said. She found an old cigar box and started saving her pennies, eventually asking her mother to put her Washington fund into a savings account so she could someday make the move.
She got her start as a staff assistant in Rep. Andy Harris’s (R-Md.) office before landing her current gig as a deputy scheduler for Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.). She said she’s passionate about the Republican Party and enjoys feeling like she’s making a difference for constituents.
“Being the person they can call and be concerned about something, and I’m the one that can say, ‘OK, let’s talk this through,’ and getting them to the point where they feel better about a situation is something that makes this job amazing,” Fuentes said.
Although she inherited her mother’s appreciation for cuisine, Fuentes says she didn’t get the workout bug from her award-winning triathlete mom, who regularly places first in her age group.
“I like to say she works out enough for all of us,” Fuentes said.
Still, she manages to stay active by walking to work and to various spots around the city. Fuentes was also into dancing when she was younger, but said she hasn’t found time to pick it up again.
One thing Fuentes does devote time to is her style, which she describes as “classic, but my friends think I’m pretty quirky.” Fuentes said the key for her is quality over quantity.
“I would rather save up for something instead of buying four or five little things that would fall apart,” she said, referencing a Hermès scarf she picked up while on a trip. “That’s a big thing for me.”
Between food and fashion, Fuentes plays the piano, guitar and drums, and enjoys going to music shows. And when she’s home, she’s often found vegging out in front of science fiction shows such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who” with her turtle, Orly.
— Ashley Perks