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Kenny’s Meat Wagon (Truck)

2 Mar

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Kenny’s Meat Wagon Facebook
Kenny’s Meat Wagon Instagram
Kenny’s Meat Wagon Twitter

Phone: (614) 425-0556

Let’s start with some mobile food math. What happens when you take this:

Flat Top Pizza

Then add one of these:

Kennys Meat Wagon Cart

The end result equals this, the breakaway favorite of the winter 2017 food truck season, Kenny’s Meat Wagon (2.0).

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Kenny’s Meat Wagon has established a reputation on serving big, man sized sandwiches with lots of fresh ingredients and exceptional locally sourced breads. See a few examples below.

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Kenny’s Meat Wagon started as a cart in 2013. Being a bit under the radar and a smaller profile cart he won notoriety at several food trucks events including best food cart in Columbus in 2014 at the Columbus Food Truck Festival, in 2015, best overall vendor at the Q FM 96 food truck festival, in 2016, 2nd place overall in the Columbus Food Truck Festival.

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In the late fall of 2016 inspired by a spin of the Lend Lease Act between England and the USA during World War Two, Kenny’s Meat Wagon brokered access to the Flattop Pizza Truck (with the arcane knowledge of its owner Mike Cryan) thus Kenny’s Meat Wagon (2.0, Truck, Kenny’s Mike Wagon) was born. This true Meat Wagon has been pounding the pavement pretty hard over the winter, something Kenny could not do in cart format. His timing was good since he was also expanding his family with a second child concurrently. The truck offers a more expanded menu than the cart could as well as the capacity to serve more people in a shorter period of time. I checked in with Kenny to find out more about his Meat Wagon.

1) What was the tipping point for you to start Kenny’s Meat Wagon?

I had been working an office job for 8 years and not going very far. I really didn’t like the office life and wanted to do something else but I felt stuck. I had always wanted to get into the restaurant industry but the thought of cooking someone else’s food and working crazy hours didn’t sound great to me. My wife had been pushing the food cart idea for a while. We saved up as much as we could, then, one day while staring out the window of the office I decided to go for it. My wife backed me 1000% of the time and we jumped in feet first. My last day in the office was a Thursday, we got married on Friday, took a little honeymoon and I was a full time food cart owner/operator when we got home

2) You operated as a cart for over three years, what are the pros and cons of operating from a cart vs. a truck. Is there anything you miss about being a cart operator?

I have to say that there’s not a whole lot that I miss about running a food cart! I had a ton of fun and got to work some really fun events and meet a countless number of amazing people. But, it is hard, physical work, hot in the summer and nearly impossible to operate in the winter. The food truck has given me the opportunity to run through the winter. It has also allowed me to expand the menu in ways that I never could with the cart. It has opened the door to use ingredients that I could never use on the cart. The thing that I do miss the most about the cart is not having the face to face contact with the regulars I’ve built up over time. I’ve met some really amazing, interesting people over the years and I’ve had some great conversations while cooking their food. I also think that people really like to be able to watch their food be prepared in front of them.


3) What type of culinary experiences did you have prior to starting the cart?

I had no professional cooking experience when I started the cart. I had never gone to culinary school. I am pretty much completely self-taught when it comes to cooking. I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen, reading recipes and helping as I could. I started to really learn watching Alton Brown on the Food Network. He really got me interested in the science of cooking, and how and why you use different techniques in the kitchen. I practised as much as I could. Anytime friends or family had parties, tailgates, etc. I would always jump on the opportunity to “cater” the event and try new things. Everyone I knew became guinea pigs in whatever experiment I was on at the time. They enjoyed that most of the time but trust me, not everything is a winner! Just learn and adapt and keep on moving!

4) When did you know that you loved to cook and wanted to do so for a living? Do you have strong food traditions in your family growing up?

I enjoyed food from a very early age. As I was getting out of high school and beyond is when I really stared to realize that cooking was my future. We didn’t really have strong food traditions growing up. My mom did make sure that we always had really good home-made food on the table every night. She had her core recipes that she stuck with (some that I still cook today), and she would experiment when she could. Being around and having good food so often is what really got me interested in cooking. Without my mom, I don’t think I would be the cook that I am today.

5) Most of your menu is sandwich based and often skews toward items like Italian Beef Sandwiches as well as what objective people such as my wife consider to be the best Italian sub in the state of Ohio. What inspired your choice of sandwiches? Do you have Italian family connections where you grew up? Did you discover Italian Beef while in Chicago?

I’ve spent my whole life making everything into sandwiches. Having pasta for dinner? Butter some bread and eat it like a sandwich! Breakfast? Pile it all between your toast and eat it like a sandwich! I discovered Italian Beef on my first trip out Chicago and I was hooked. The au jus soaked bread with tender, thin sliced beef with giardiniera and roasted peppers immediately became my favorite sandwich. I started trying to recreate it as soon as I got home. When starting the cart I needed something that no one else had and Italian Beef was it. The rest of the menu has come since then based on my favorite things to eat. I put a ton of thought into every item on the menu. Everything on the menu has been tested and tweaked countless times before you even see it as a customer. Quality is not something to take lightly. Our THE Italian Sandwich that you referenced has been an evolving sandwich for the last 3 years. We’ve finally gotten it to where I’m 100% happy with it. It is absolutely my favorite sandwich on the menu.

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Baba’s Porch

3 Nov

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Phone: 614-262-2227

You may not know it but you have met Baba’s Porch before – in the form of That Food Truck and in particular, Dan Kraus.

When the engine of That Food Truck died, Dan had to find another path to your stomachs. A bit tight on cash while building out his restaurant Baba’s Kitchen, Dan found a trailer and started working on a concept to compliment his brick and mortar project. He also took what he learned from a few years of smoking meats on the fly and built a new smoker to add to Baba’s Porch. Baba’s has been serving Friday nights at Seventh Son Brewing and occasional Saturday afternoons to fill in for other mobile vendors. As Baba’s Kitchen slowly….but surely, comes close to completion Dan says he will continue to keep to Porch out for Friday night service and catering.

When Baba’s Kitchen opens you will find the Restaurant at 2515 Summit Street near the intersection of Hudson Street and 3rd Ave. You can expect to see the Baba’s trailer at Seventh Son and special events.

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I checked in with Dan between courses and construction to find out more about Baba’s Porch.

1) Let’s start with the smoker you built for Baba’s, any design enhancements or special features on this smoker from the previous one you built. What makes this smoker extra special to you?

This was the first smoker I fabricated and welded from beginning to end. It was an education during the whole process and being so intimate with the whole thing gave me a chance to really understand the dynamics of space and draft. Making sure its airtight between the firebox and cooking chamber is what kicked this up to another level and maintain consistent temps regardless of barometric pressure.

2) What was the transition like from Truck to Trailer? You are accustomed to tight spaces but its looks like you have to get creative with the space. What do you like best about trailer life?

In many ways it’s a lot easier. Building the trailer out after having That Food Truck for so many years, we knew exactly what was needed and shed the rest. Simplifying the line and having only what is absolutely necessary makes it a breeze to have everything within reach. trim the fat to save the meat. The best thing about trailer life is no rusty ass engine to break down. I can rest knowing as long as I have access to a truck, I can make the gig, no problem.

3) Baba’s Porch will continue after you open Baba’s Kitchen, how do you think the Porch may change as the kitchen grows and you start the grocery aspect to the business?

The Porch will be our place to shine a spotlight on the smoked meats. Simple, smoked sandwiches will always be flying out the window. Having access to more produce and homemade items from Baba’s Kitchen will allow us to play with specials and sides.

4) You have a secret weapon at Baba’s now – Tim. Can you share your history with him and why he is such a great addition to the team?

I met Tim in Culinary school in Portland OR ten years ago and we clicked right away. We have parallel ways of thinking about food and how it should be prepared. We started this conversation about our own place way back then with intent to open a truck in Portland. Literally life happened as my wife and I found out we were pregnant and decided to move back to Ohio. Tim went on to Hawaii and Minnesota and really honed in on some tight culinary skills. His high end expertise and managing a huge line at Lafayette Club has really matured his kitchen nature and often reels my more wild eyed approach. We can challenge each other in respectful ways to find the most delicious and efficient ways to build a plate.

5) Your other secret weapon is your wife Caroline. What are some of the ways she has helped with both projects over the last year?

Can I just say everything, lol? Caroline has supported every crazy idea and move I wanted to make. She gives me the foundation and real support anyone trying to do this would need. She gives words to my ideas and helps organize the chaos. Outside of the actual cooking she is involved in every aspect of the business. Concepts, construction, finance, design, and and networking, Caroline is all over it. Its so cliche, but she is my rock.

She is itching to get Baba’s blog populated with stories of the line and gorgeous food photos.

6) What one (or two) things do you want people to know about Baba’s Porch?

First that we have felt the support for the change of business. We lost TFT and were worried about re-branding and loosing some of the steam we had with the old truck. But Columbus people are awesome and have showed up hungry and left with smiles.

Its an elementary introduction to the food Tim and I can cook. Simple and quick as truck food needs to be. But what flies out of Baba’s Kitchen is elevated with the luxury of time and space. Basically, if you like the Porch food you will love what Baba’s is serving up!

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Sock Hop Soda Shop

26 Oct

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Sock Hop Soda Shop

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The Sock Hop Soda shop is the creation of Terry Levine, a 50’s enthusiast who literally brings the party to you. In world of mobile food, one path is to beat the streets looking for hungry customers, and the alternative to chase events and private parties – that is the approach for Sock Hop Soda Shop. The crew comes attired as soda jerks and works hard to create a fifties vibe with music, hula hoops, dancing (when not serving) and a soda shop style menu with ice cream and sandwiches. The team also rocks local with Velvet Ice Cream and Frosttop Root Beer.

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Sock Hop Velvet Menu

You will see them set up at events and private parties in the warm months, during the winter they bring the party inside (without the truck) by request.

Sock Hop Soda Shop

Blank Slate Coffee

23 Oct

Blank Slate Coffee Trailer gahanna

Blank Slate Coffee
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169 Mill Street (near intersection of Mill & Carpenter)
Gahanna, Ohio

The Mill Street strip in downtown Gahanna is filled with plenty of restaurant and entertainment options just a stone throw away on the fringe of the area a beautiful airstrean trailer caught my eye. I was excited to see a mobile food option in the neighborhood. After a nice visit for an Italian Soda and chat with the guys, I figured our readers would want to know more. So here you go, my Q and A with Blank Slate.

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1) Tell me about the Team on Blank Slate (who and what you do).

The Blank Slate team consists of the owner/operator Matt Roberson, as well as three other baristas. Working in such close quarters demands that each barista be able to “run the show” by themselves, or in pairs. We rarely have a 3rd person on the trailer.

2) When did Blank Slate Open?

Blank Slate has existed for almost a year and half, though for the first year, we only did booth events. We’ve only been running full ours from the Airstream since June 6th of this year.

3) How did you pick your spot?

My wife and I live in Gahanna and are dedicated to a community-centric business model. We’re asking the community to support us, so we should be working to support the community. Gahanna is our community, so it was a no-brainer. We’re consistently parked on a commuter route that a good portion of New Albany and Gahanna uses. Morning commuter traffic is essential for us.

4) Where did you find your trailer and how long did it take to build out.

The Airstream was in Indianapolis when we found it. A woman who owned a couple of bakeries was looking for a mobile outlet, and had started the process to turn the Airstream into that. She ended up going a different way, and we ended up with a partially restored Airstream! The exterior had been buffed, floors and interior walls updated, and partial electric. Building out everything needed for a coffee vendor took around two months.

5) What is your background in / passion for coffee?

I actually came into coffee culture through a different door than most. As an artist and musician, I had the opportunity to put together art and music events for various coffee shops. My sister had owned a coffee shop when I was younger, and it has always been an atmosphere that was naturally comfortable for me. From working with various pour over methods at home, to using our basement to restore the antique espresso machine that we use, I definitely have a DIY approach when it comes to coffee. Our roaster, Mission Coffee Co, has been an amazing resource for us, as well as Kenny Sipes, the owner of Roosevelt Coffee.

6) You source a lot of local ingredients and locally made products on your trailer, what inspired that for you?

We’re local and we ask people to support us because we’re local. Supporting local is common sense when you step back and look at it. It’s better for you health wise, better for the environment, and better for your local economy. If we push these ideals as individuals, we should strive to live them out in our business practices as well. Using Ohio products makes a lot of sense to us, and finding businesses that we can support that are good for our health, environment, and economy has made it a practical choice for us.

7) Anything else to add that you want to make sure people know or understand about Blank Slate.

We’re collaborative people. We’ve worked hard to build connections with city hall, our visitors bureau, parks and rec, etc. We see a lot of potential in Gahanna, and if there’s other people who are interested in making something out here work, we’d be happy to get together and see what we can come up with.

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Graeters Ice Cream Truck

29 Jul

graeters truck

On Street Food Finder
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614 648 7842

The Graeter’s Ice Cream Truck debuted in Columbus this summer. For many people this is not news, Graeter’s has been in Columbus since 1988 with over a dozen locations throughout the city and plenty of half-gallons available in stores. However, I think this is worth noting for a few reasons. First for a company which has been around since 1870, a mobile operation is downright new-fangled (maybe it was peer pressure from the youngsters from Schmidt’s who have only been around since the 1880’s).

The truck has stayed busy out on the town most days of the week and hitting special events and festivals on the weekends. It is a perfect way for the company to expand brand awareness and grow on site catering.

The menu is simple, a scaled down version with a limited number of flavors available in cones, cups, sundaes and milkshakes.

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A nice feature to the truck is a large video screen which shows videos of how the ice cream is made and other information about Graeter’s, it is a good way to pass the time and learn while waiting for a scoop.

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Horn OK Please

25 Jan

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Facebook:HornOKPlsFood
Twitter:hornokplsfood
(614) 446 4613

I have been waiting for mobile Indian food for a long time. Horn OK Please made a debut in the fall of 2015 and five visits to date they have never disappointed me. The menu focuses mostly on traditional Indian dishes but with a very practical twist. Most items offer a small (on a stick or in a boat) or large portion so those new to Indian food or mobile food or both can dip their ties in ethnic food waters with small monetary risk or create their own mini buffet by ordering several small portions. My favorite dish to date is Reshmi Chicken in wrap form: chicken marinated in almonds, ginger, garlic and cilantro chutney with some pickled onions on the side and of course the optional fried eggs
added.

Food

One fusion food that is a crowd pleaser is the Horn OK spin on Tater Tots:topped with chickpeas, tamarind, yogurt sauce and cilantro chutney!

You might be wondering about the name – well and explanation is included in the truck decor – see below.

Horn Ok Please

And the owners always have a book out for display which showcases many of the classic and colorful rigs of the Indian Highway (so you know what is up with the Horn and the color scheme).

Book

The menu is small but has enough depth not to get bored and you can usually count of a special of the day. Another interesting connection, the owners received some help in their build out from Johnny Oak – a long time Columbus BBQ purveyor and occasional mobile fooder.

Keep an eye out for Horn OK Please at local breweries and the usual lunch spots.

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Aloha Streatery

18 Jan

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Facebook:alohastreatery
Twitter:alohastreatery
Phone: (614) 943-3523

Aloha Streatery hit the streets of Columbus in the fall of 2015 bringing some welcome menu diversity to the mobile food scene. What many do not know is Hawaii was a mecca for food trucks before most of the mainland showcasing diverse menus in the islands of Aloha for decades. Aloha Streatery brings authentic flavors via a menu that hits the spot that is refreshingly simple and with price points that are refreshing.

Owner Sara Siv leads with a menu that is slider based and features the full on flavors of Hawaiian Street Food. The clam like home-made lotus buns (light, fluffy but a very firm base to pile on toppings) have just a trace of sweetness to them. Typical toppings include Hawaiian mainstays such as BBQ Chicken, grilled pineapple, Spam(!), pork belly or homemade tofu. (FYI: Hawaii is the largest per capita consumer of Spam in the world). Depending on the sandwich pour or pile on house made peanut sauce, sriracha mayo, house make pickled veggies, and add in an optional fried egg and you might you feel yourself transported to Maui.

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Other menu items include a spin on a Hawaiian icon Loco (No) Moco – sweet chicken with steamed jasmine rice, grilled pineapple, cilantro mayo and a dash of freshly chopped cilantro. Tater Tots and Fries with an island twist round out the main menu. Specials are well worth your time and attention as well examples include wraps and Banh Mi.

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Two things I really like about Aloha which shows this newcomer is savvy enough to go the distance. First price points – many menu items are under $4 which is appealing to first time visitors and regulars who want to explore the menu in-depth. The second inspired decision is having a menu ordering system that allows customers to text in their order without having to lose their seat or brave the elements.

Aloha.

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