By Robert Duffer, Chicago Tribune
The English are not known for their food, and food trucks are not known for being green. Bridgeport Pasty Co. is setting out to change that.
Since August of 2011, Carrie and Jay Sebastian have been baking pasties and selling them about town in their diminutive electric food truck. It’s less a truck than a wagon, and to be clear a pasty is pronounced PASS-tee. It is a handheld pie, a dough pocket filled with meat or veggies like an empanada, calzone or pierogi.
“Every culture has a version of a pasty,” Sebastian says. And it should not be confused with a pasty (PAY-stee), the decoration favored by strippers.
“If I sold pay-stees, my job might be a whole lot more interesting,” says John Shotwell, who manages the food truck for the Sebastians.
Patsy the Pastymobile is a GEM all-electric vehicle manufactured in Iowa by Polaris. At 6 feet high by 6 feet wide by 12 feet long, it is bigger than a golf cart and smaller than most road vehicles, except for those you might see zipping around airports or retirement communities.
The gel batteries will run for about 25 miles when the truck is loaded. That range is perfect for mobile vending in Chicago, especially Patsy’s popular vending spot at the University of Chicago. The truck is classified as a low-speed vehicle, topping out at 26 mph.
Chicago drivers are not known for their patience. “I’m a cyclist, so people honking at me does not faze me in the slightest,” Shotwell says.
The Sebastians are cyclists as well, active in the bicycle booster group Critical Mass, and they are committed to the bicycle as their preferred mode of transportation. It was a fateful bike ride in London at Christmas time that turned the Sebastians onto the pasty.
“We saw it as the perfect street food, a grab-and-go food,” says Sebastian. That was the case historically as well, where the pasty was popular with coal miners because it could stay warm and stick to their ribs. The crusts acted as a handle for their arsenic-laced fingers.
The pasty migrated with miners to the Midwest, where Sebastian notes a weird little pocket of pasty shops in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
That’s why Bridgeport Pasty’s flagship pasty of beer-marinated beef, onion, potato and rutabaga is dubbed the Yooper. Chef Carrie Sebastian, who grew up with pasties during her summers in Ireland, has developed seven pasties, from the classic Yooper to the Oinkle.
The Oinkle combines pork, apple and onion with chucks of potato and a light, distinctive smattering of sage. Enveloping it is a flaky dough that tastes like the product of a buttermilk biscuit mating with a pie crust. There should be no discarding these crusts. Not only does it stick to your ribs, it sticks to your taste buds. I would eat another if I hadn’t been filled from the first.
The most popular one is the veggie, made with spinach and mushroom, and the ginger chicken, which is popular with the five Sebastian grandchildren. Pasty popularity has led the Sebastians to build a brick-and-mortar bakery at 3142 S. Morgan, where 40 solar panels will charge Patsy.
Sebastian is hopeful the bakery will open for walk-in traffic this summer, but he’s been stymied by Chicago food law before. In fact, he originally had proposed to be a food vendor on a tricycle with a propane stove.
“The city wouldn’t go for it,” says the 60 year old, who works in administration at a large downtown law firm. He expects Patsy the Pastymobile to be part of his retirement plan, making road trips via trailer to Florida or Austin during the winter months.
For now, Sebastian hopes improvements can be made to lessen the carbon footprint of the fuel consumed in making their product and their truck, which includes a super-efficient 1 gallon gas heater to keep the pasties at the city-mandated temperature. A gallon is enough for about two lunch shifts.
“My hope is that some 12-year-old kid sees this and asks how can I make it better?” Sebastian says. “You can’t put a price tag on the inspiration this can create in the younger generation.”
It inspires passersby as well. Shotwell notes that the curiously cute truck lures people to the pasty. Its podlike cab, diminutive wheelbase and plastic body all attract attention among the big rigs of the burgeoning Chicago food-truck scene.
“I feel like a bug sometimes,” Shotwell says, who takes it slow and trusts in the kindness of other drivers.
On the street, it looks like the traditional food trucks are about to eat Patsy. But bigger food trucks do not bully Patsy, or Shotwell. “They’re envious of my ability to park.”
With so many new — and delicious — food trucks hitting the streets of the Twin Cities each summer, it’s almost too tough to keep up. Well, fear not, we’re here to help. Here’s this week’s food truck feature!
All that really needs to be said about this week’s food truck can be summed up in three glorious words: duck fat fries.
Yes, beyond bringing the retro feel of a good ol’ fashioned drive-in to the streets of St. Paul, Neato’s Burgers has given us the precious gift of duck-fat frying, without the hefty price tag or the cross-country journey. God bless them.
They’re also having a lot of tasty fun when it comes to the classic drive-in burger on a bun. Their most popular patty, fabulously named the Mustard Tiger, features a mustard-grilled burger, duck fat fries, more mustard and a special sauce. There’s also the jalapeno popper burger and a “Hans Goober” burger, for those PBJ fans.
If the fierce flavors weren’t enough, you can feel good about the food itself — nearly everything Neato’s makes is Minnesota-made and fresh to death.
Let’s learn a bit more, shall we?
Find them at @NeatosBurgers and at www.neatosburgers.com
Owner: Neal Lenzmeier and Antonio Gutierrez
Date the food truck opened: October of 2011
What kind of food do you serve? We try to do our take on a classic drive-in burger and then we try to get creative with that, little bit of fusion — we do a Mexican Elotes burger, a jalapeno popper burger. So we kind of play on the classic drive-in burger.
Price range of menu: Our cheapest item is the fries for $4, or $3 with a combo, and hamburgers start at $4 with the most expensive being $8.
Hours of operation: Usually on the streets from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, plus special events on weekends. We’re also looking into dinner service with a couple other trucks.
What was your job before opening the food truck? Tony and I were independent contractors. So we both had restaurant experience years ago and decided to get back into with this truck.
What made you want to open a food truck? Mostly just to be my own boss, have a creative outlet, make my own hours, which has been pretty difficult but it’s starting to pay off.
What made you want to get into the food industry in the first place? My dad was actually a chef around town in the 80s and 90s so I started to follow in his footsteps after high school. He told me to not go down that path. So I kind of got out of the back of the house, did some front of the house work in my early 20s and then left the industry around 24. I’m 31 now. I got back into it at 29.
How is the food prepared? Well every morning, we get our meat fresh from Stasny’s — a meat market on Western. They grind it fresh for us every morning. And then we get our potatoes from a potato distributor, fresh cut them every morning and fry those in pure rendered duck fat. I believe we’re the only business in town doing that. And we get all of our produce fresh every morning. So we typically don’t have food inventory. Every morning we get fresh food, cut it up and sell it all.
How did you come up with the name? It’s actually the first part of my first name — “Nea” — and then “To” for Tony. Tony came up with that. We thought it kind of had a 50s vibe to it so we created the character Neato.
How did you decide on the menu? It was kind of up in the air, even as we were starting the truck. And then Porky’s closed down. So we kind of thought, why not pick up where they left off? There aren’t really drive-in’s like that anymore so let’s try to do that. That’s kind of where we came up with duck fat because we wanted to do animal fat the way drive-in’s used to be before vegetable oil. And you can’t really find that anymore, except for we found this duck farmer, who was really helpful and let us know all about duck fat.
What’s your favorite dish that you serve? It’s probably the Mustard Tiger. That was kind of something we created and put on twitter, just to drum up some business one morning and it took off from there. It’s a burger patty grilled, with mustard on it, to create a crust then cheese, onions grilled in duck fat, then we put it on a bun with fries, special sauce, tomato and a little more mustard on top. That’s our best selling product. I’m also quite fond of the jalapeno popper burger, with cream cheese, grilled jalapenos and raspberry preserves. So it’s kind of sweet, salty, spicy. It all really works.
Describe your truck in one word: Retro.
What’s your craziest story from working at a food truck? Actually, last year, our first day at this food truck court, our generator started on fire towards the end of the day, so at least we got some sales in. But yeah, we looked out of our window and there was all this smoke coming out and our generator and the generator cord were on fire. So that let us put in a new generator. Every different, crazy story we have is a learning experience and I feel like we had a lot of them last year. I think we’ve replaced everything on this truck so that it will run every day but I’d say that was probably the craziest thing that happened last year.
What’s one thing you want people to know about your food truck? That all of our food is really fresh, locally sourced. We don’t go out of our way to advertise or put a bunch of buzz words in front of everything that we have. It’s just really fresh. We try to incorporate as many Minnesota products as possible.
Catch the Food Truck Feature every week, in the Curiocity column. Know of a food truck you think should be featured? Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting your suggestion to @SaraPelissero!
File Photo – Jersey Shore Food Truck Wars will be held at Monmouth Park this weekend.
Food Truck Wars will be at Monmouth Park this weekend, with trucks coming from around New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York.
The two-day festival will run Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $3. The cost of food is separate.
Below is a list of participating food trucks and sample menu’s of the food they will be serving.
Click here for more details on the festival.
Ahh! la cart: Meatball Sliders Subs, Chicken Fingers Fries, Butterfly Fries w/Toppings, Southwestern Chicken Cheesesteak Sub, Triple melt Sandwich
Amanda Bananas: Original Amanda Banana, Breakfast Banana: Fresh Fruit and Granola, Banana Cream Pie: Crushed Graham Crackers and Whipped Cream, Almond Joy: Coconut, Almonds and Hersey’s Syrup, S’mores: Graham Cracker, mini marshmallows and Hershey’s Syrup
Angelotti’s Pizza: Pizza, Mozzarella Sticks, French Fries, Chicken Tenders, Fried Oreos
Aroy-D Thai Elephant Truck: Pad Thai, Kao Man Kai (Chicken Rice), Chicken/Pork Satay, Curry Puff, Spring Rolls, Thai Iced Tea
Burger Box: Burgers, Fries, Onion rings
Bacon on Wheels: Chicken Fried Bacon on a Stick, Fresh Fried Apple Pie with Cheddar Bacon, Fresh Fried Potato Chips, Grilled Cheese and Bacon Sandwich with Onion Jam, Hot Coffee
Cinnamon Snail: Vegan Organic Sandwiches, burgers, wraps, Vegan Organic Donuts, Vegan Donuts, Assorted Sweet and Savory Pasties, Raw Salad, Raw Pizza, Artisan Ginger Ale, Natural Root Beer, Coffee
The Cow and The Curd: Battered Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Sprecher Root Beer Cream Soda, Frozen Lemonade, Gourmet Dipping Sauces
Cupcake Carnivale: assorted cupcakes
Dellano’s Food Service: Sausage Peppers, Hot Dogs, Burgers, Funnel Cake, Zeppole, Lemonade
El Lechon de Negron: Rice Beans, Roasted Pork or Chicken, Empanadas (Beef, Chicken, Chorizo), Tostones (Fried Bananas)
Empanada Guy: Beef Empanadas, Chicken Empanadas, Cheese Empanadas, Lobster Empanada, Crab Empanada
Fork In The Road: Braised Short Rib Sandwich with Caramelized Onions on Ciabatta, BBQ Pulled Pork with Cider BBQ Sauce Green Apple Cole Slaw on Brioche, Grilled Chicken, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Blend on Ciabatta, Fries
Four Boys: Ice Cream, Italian Ice, Smoothies, Pretzels
Freezy Freeze: Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream, Nitro Oreos, Cold Brewed Ice Coffee, Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, Brewed Ice Tea
The French Quarter: A Taste of New Orleans LLC – Gumbo, Po’ Boy, Jambalaya, Muffaletta, Red Beans Rice, Chips, Beverages
Gozen Yogurt: Soft serve frozen yogurt
Hibachi Heaven: Chicken Vegetables Rice/Wraps, Beef Vegetables Rice Wraps, Shrimp Vegetables Rice Wraps, Tofu Vegetables Rice Wraps
Jersey Johnny’s Grill: Hot Dog, Jumbo Hot Dog, Foot Long Hot Dog, French Fries, 8 oz Burger
Kona Ice: Hawaiian Shaved Ice, Ice Cream Novelties
Max’s Hot Dogs: Hot Dogs, Burgers, Veggie Burgers, Fries
Molly’s Milk Truck: Molly’s Signature Turkey Pesto Sandwich, Guilt-Free Grilled Cheese, Turkey Guac Panini, Lean White Meat Turkey Burger, Better Choice Ham Sandwich, Molly’s Signature Iced Coffee (Non-Dairy)
Morris Grilled Cheese: Classic NY State Cheddar, Gouda w Herb Butter and Bacon, Delicate Cheese (Truffle Cheese Truffle Butter), Homemade Sodas
Pizza Vita: Breakfast Pizza – mozzarella, crushed tomato, basil, egg, sopressata; Margherita – mozzarella, crushed tomato, basil; Tony Pepperoni – mozzarella, crushed tomato, sopressata; Jersey Boy – mozzarella, crushed tomato, sweet sausage; Fun Guy – mozzarella, crushed tomato, mushrooms, truffle oil
Red Hook Lobster Pound: Lobster Rolls, Shrimp Rolls, Lobster BLT, Milkshake, Lemonade
Rickshaw Dumplings: Dumplings – Pork Chive, Chicken, Vegetarian; Sides – Chilled Edamame, Asian Green Salad, Chili Rice Noodle Salad; Fresh Ades – Watermelon or Calamansi
Seoul Food NYC: Korean Burritos, Korean Bahn-Mi Sandwiches, Rice Platters, Korean Tacos, Fries, Sliders
Surf and Turf Truck: Classic Lobster Roll, Firecracker Roll, Lobster and Beef Rolls, Salmon Sliders, Asphalt Roll
Tony’s Italian Sausage: Sausage Hot and Sweet, Philly Cheesesteak, Lemonade and Homemade Raspberry Lemonade
Tony Boloney’s Mustache Mobile: Pizza, Subs
Wafels and Dinges: Belgian (Uege) Wafels, Coffee, Ice Cream
Wrap Star: Will I “Ham” Double Cut Pork Roll; Grilled Chicken, Homemade Buffalo, Bleu Crumbles; Shaved Ribeye Steak, Onions, Peppers, Smoked Gouda; Slim Turkey; Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini, Roasted Peppers, Fresh Mozz, Balsamic Glaze
OCEANPORT – A war is coming to Monmouth County this weekend – a food truck war that is.
More than 30 four-wheeled eateries from all over Jersey, New York and Philadelphia will be rolling into Monmouth Park on Saturday, serving up everything from lobster rolls and empanadas, to pizza, pad thai and cupcakes.
“We have an amazing array of food trucks this year from New York, Philadelphia and right here in New Jersey serving every kind of burger and sandwich along every type of ethnic foods you can imagine,” Food Truck Wars spokeswoman Patti Baxter said.
Click here to see the full list of trucks and sample menus of what they will be offering.
The two-day event kicks off Saturday with live performances by Craig Campbell and Chris Janson. Sunday is Family Fun Day at the park, with free face painting, bounce houses and clowns for kids. The Star-Ledger’s Pete Genovese will host a panel of judges that will award several prizes to the trucks, including Best Guilty Pleasure, Best on a Bun, Cutting-Edge Cuisine and Most Seductive Sweet.
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People can also vote for their favorite truck for the People’s Choice Award and enter to win prizes.
During the two days, festival-goers can catch thoroughbred horse racing on the track.
Last year more than 23,000 people attended the one-day event so organizers made changes to the festival, including adding a second day of food tasting and spacing trucks out in front of the Grandstand and into the adjacent bus parking area.
Baxter said around 40,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event.
“You almost have to strategize coming to something like this,” Baxter said. “Figure out what you’re going to do, spread out and hit the lines.”
“You can be kind of creative with it and accomplish hitting all of them,” she said.
Admission is $3, which includes entrance to the festival and Monmouth Park to catch the horse racing.