We’re on a cross-country road trip to take pics for our upcoming cookbook!
You guys. Raleigh and Durham quite literally brought out the welcome wagon for us. With six food trucks packed into one day, this was one of the busiest cities on our schedule. So imagine our surprise when hearing the food truck owners had banded together and decided to drive to us! Instead of navigating and parking in an unfamiliar city, food trucks pulled into the parking lot of the Durham’s Department of Human Services every hour like clockwork, ready to cook, chat, and smile for our cameras. And, without fail, every single food truck owner lavished praise on at least one, if not all, of the other chefs we were about to meet. It was an incredibly touching example of solidarity we haven’t seen before or since on this trip, not just amongst food truck owners, but with the city itself. You know a community has got it together when the Department of Human Services (an entity that, in other cities, isn’t a resource so much as a dispenser of red tape and arbitrary rules) lends their parking lot for a food truck gathering. Very impressive, Raleigh and Durham!
A huge thank you to the food trucks who rearranged their day to come out and meet us:
Barone Meatball Company: Stephen Dewey brought his entire family out (even his mom!) to show off his moist, flavor-intense gourmet meatballs. And who says you need meat for a good meatball? His Black Bean and Corn Balls held their own alongside his more traditional offerings.
American Meltdown: We heard Paul and Alycia Inserra referred to by several other owners as the nicest people in the business. We have to agree. These former New Yorkers warmed us up with friendly conversation and some incredible grilled cheese sandwiches, like the Beer n’ Bacon Melt.
CJ’s Street Food: Mark Thomas credits the Mission St. Cookbook and David Chang’s Momofuku Cookbook for his playful, versatile approach to Asian cooking. “You know what, they took a chance,” he says. “If they’re playing with their food, I can play with mine.” Judging by the way he was immediately trading food with other chefs the moment he arrived, his risk paid off.
Porchetta: Nicholas Crosson and Matthew Hayden know their way around a pork shoulder. And they should, they go through at least four a shift. Crusted in rosemary, these beautifully tender cuts of meat make for some juicy, delicious sandwiches. You can’t miss their truck. The artwork is as stunning as their food.
Café Prost: A special thanks to Stephan Bayer for giving us hands-on experience in rolling and twisting our very own pretzels. It gave us a new appreciation for the hundreds he goes through in a day. There’s nothing like a hand-rolled, fresh-baked pretzel, trust us.
Deli-icious: The first thing we noticed stepping into Deli-icous with Susan Tower and Ty Parker was the smell of fresh vegetables. Which is kind of Susan’s calling card. Everything that goes into her dishes is fresh and vibrant. She rightfully calls her Watermelon Gazpacho a “garden in your mouth.”
Pie Pushers: Due to timing, Mike and Becky Hacker got an entire day to themselves. We ended up meeting in their serene, wooded backyard right before a winter storm swooped in. The first thing we noticed upon entering their trailer: the gigantic pizza oven. The oven may clock their trailer in at 8,000 lbs, but it makes a beautiful pizza with a crispy, yet fluffy, crust.
It was such a treat meeting everyone! We ended up staying in North Carolina an extra day due to icy roads and general winter mayhem, but we were still sorry to leave. Especially when hospitable folks like Derek and Claudia Toomes are letting us camp out in their home. Thank you Derek and Claudia for the homemade breakfasts, the ready cocktails, and your wonderful company. Next up: the Nation’s Capital!