Jeff Kraus of Truckin' Good Food, Part Two
Kraus, owner and chef, spoke yesterday about his take on French cuisine. Today we've got the scoop on his progress turning TGF from one kick-ass food truck into a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
If you could only eat three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Oh man! These questions are hard for me to answer. I eat the same way I live my life - adventurous - spontaneous - and with a lot of variety. If I could have the same experience as I did the first time I ate "it" I would eat: 1. Breakfast whey chocolate protein shakes with cinnamon and cardamom infused cooked and chilled rolled oats, Nescafe, and a frozen banana, 2. Whole roasted chicken or duck and crackers (crispy skin), 3. Hot espresso poured over frozen custard.
Francophiles, find out after the jump what two things this chef says you need in your kitchen.
Can you talk a little bit about Experience Gastro?
The idea started a long time ago with a bunch of journal scribbles and loose ideas on how I could make a meal that was just like my personality: playful, unpredictable, detail-oriented and as diverse as Walt Disney World. With ++experience++ I want people to come to an event with an open mind and without preconceived notions. If a diner tells me that they don't like goat or eggplant--and this happened at our last Cycle event--, I ask that they give me a chance to change their mind. I cooked ground goat in a controlled temp bath which was served with a tomato jam brûlée, charred eggplant mash, and smoked onion gravy, aka: ketchup topped meatloaf with mash potatoes and gravy. They loved it! And found a new appreciation for two ingredients they said they didn't like.
I won't make any claims that my cuisine is "x,y, or z." I use a wide range of ingredients and techniques that are innovative and could be considered progressive. No matter how people describe it, my goal is to make diners play, think, and guess what's happening around them and in front of them. The idea is to spark as many senses at one time as I can with each course.
You can check out pictures on our Facebook and if people are interested in having an ++experience++ of their own they can email for more information. It takes about three weeks to develop a menu though so we ask for at least four weeks notice.
We know you were working on getting a brick and mortar location for Truckin' Good Food, how is that going?
Grab a snack and a drink because this answer can take a while. I underestimated how long finding a brick and mortar was going to take. We've had restaurateurs/chefs in the area who've been there and done that and tell us that it took them longer than they'd expected. I'm taking their advice and have started being more patient. There are places out there available but nothing that feels right or that is aligned with the type of culture we want to build upon. The bright side of not finding a place right away is we've had time to write a few menus that are banging. We want to get into a place badly but we want to be smart about it. When we do we will be ready to rock. Hopefully people will feel like it was worth the wait.
I know you're also working on some new dishes and a cookbook...what types of things can we look forward to?
The cookbook is pretty cool. It's going to take a while to finish, though. We are converting my formulas into house-friendly recipes so that we can include them in the book. When it's done I think people will want to pick it up, read it, sniff it (its crazy sounding but I think I can make it happen) and actually use the recipes in it. It mostly shows a wide range of what can be done with a sweet or savory crêpe. There will be "how to" sections for making crêpe bases ; fillings; sides, e.g.: petite taco salads using chili infused crêpe chips; and desserts that are traditional and not traditional, like a fried ice cream that uses day old crêpes as the shell. We want the book to spark people's creative side so that they think about food and what they eat in a more artistic, nourishing, and playful way.
What two things do you think every French cuisine lover should have in his or her kitchen?
A dictionary of all French culinary terms, like an anchor of a book, it's heavy, Larousse Gastronomique and, my forthcoming fool-proof, just add water, crêpe mix which you can get by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for information. Shameless plug I know - but the mix is truckin' awesome!
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Phoenix dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.