Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Food Truck Diaries: Chef's Kitchen

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM

What happens when you put a family of chefs together in Arizona’s first and only solar powered food truck? Chef’s Kitchen, of course. Clad in matching tattoos of their logo, the Cryderman’s - Chris, Ivor, and Chris’ wife Mary - are sharing their passion with Tucson one dish at a time.

Chris has been a chef for 40 years. He started flipping burgers in Detroit at 14 and trained at the Culinary Institute of America the same time Anthony Bourdain was there. “It was quite the party,” says Chris.

He’s opened 23 restaurants in Michigan and Colorado, mostly for other people. Chris always wanted to come back to Tucson - he worked at El Conquistador for a time - and finally had his chance when he found the right woman. The original plan was to open a cheese store, but when the perfect location fell through, Chris figured it just wasn’t time and looked into food trucks instead.

Ivor grew up in the kitchen and Chris knew he was a natural. When Ivor was seven, Chris had him on his cooking show for kids and noted he was able to use a 10-inch knife and observe his father at the same time. At age 20 Ivor moved to North Carolina to become one of the youngest sous chefs at Lake Hickory Country Club. He spent 7 years enjoying the non-stop work, and loved creating new recipes and menus. After a while Ivor grew bored of the politics, and when the chance came up to work with his father again, he jumped on it.

Chris and Ivor feel that Chef’s Kitchen is a labor of love. “I love brick and mortar, but this is just so cool,” says Chris. For Ivor, the truck means going back to basics, connecting with customers in a way that reminds him why they started this business in the first place. “This is a big part of our lives,” he says.

They changed the menu frequently upon opening, ultimately settling on bayou-style cuisine after spending time in New Orleans restaurants and falling in love with the food. Everything except the bread is made right there in the truck. Their food is GMO-free and can be adapted to accommodate food allergies. They use separate cutting boards, gloves, and utensils depending on what food they are working with, and they make nut ingredients separate from the truck and keep them in closed containers. “People just want to eat,” says Chris. “They don’t want to worry about it.”

The Lobster Po’Boy was the tastiest of their sandwiches. Fresh lobster (none of that “fishy” taste) on a bed of cold, crispy lettuce gave the sandwich a good balance of textures. All of this was covered in a tart, creamy sauce. The bread, which is par-baked and finished fresh on the truck before serving, was delightfully chewy. Their steamed mussels were fresh and briny, and the sauce didn’t overpower the rich flavor of the mussels.

They made a special vegan/gluten free dish that consisted of a huge variety of vegetables and serving them in a rich creole sauce. The potatoes stood out - cooked to a flaky texture and slightly charred - and the sauce was deliciously spicy with a definite creole flavor. For being a simple dish of vegetables and sauce, it was well-balanced and satisfying.

The falafel Po’Boy (vegan) was flavorful - not bland like most falafel - and packed full of vegetables seasoned with Chef’s Kitchen’s homemade spice blend.

Chef’s Kitchen is also able to take care of your brunch needs. You can follow them on Facebook to find out their daily locations. Email them at chefskitchencatering@yahoo.com or give them a call at 903-7004.

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