I basically ambushed the good people over at the NURISH Fresh Eats food truck on a recent Saturday morning.
Maybe "ambush" is too strong a word — but I definitely surprised them. Co-founders Reid Torrens and Victoria (Tori) Vangeison had parked their food truck at the Downtown Mesa Farmers Market and were serving breakfast.
NURISH Fresh Eats is first and foremost a purveyor of lunch bowls, using plant-based, hand-prepped ingredients with globally inspired tastes like pesto and tzatziki. But the truck itself was not part of the original plan.
In 2020, NURISH was in the planning stages."We wanted our concept to be a smaller venue with five offerings so we could serve it quickly in the form of a drive-thru," Torrens explained that morning. "We looked around the current marketplace for affordable options but couldn’t find anything.” Their fully operational food truck debuted in August 2021.
Neither of the two are chefs, though "we’ve always been interested in a healthy lifestyle,“ Torrens noted. He has a background in finance, and Vangeison worked at Honeywell as an engineer. But their combined experience gave them an advantage when it came to planning their menu, they say.
“We’ve created a fairly streamlined prepping process to trim the vegetables, hand-wash them, and to grate cauliflower or dice the tomatoes so we’re as efficient as possible,” Torrens said.
“Our goal with that is to avoid buying frozen bags of cauliflower,” added Vangieson.
Victoria Vangeison (left) and Reid Torrens left their jobs in engineering and finance to start a food truck.
Courtesy of Reid Torrens
Excited to try some healthy food, my friend and I ordered two breakfast bowls, found an outdoor table, and dug in with our plastic spoons. It was…average. The yellow scrambled eggs tasted dull slapped on top of a small portion of cauliflower rice under too much sauce. My friend had ordered sausage, which sort of resembled kibble. However, the freshly brewed black tea was excellent, with flavors of rosehips and black currants.
“Honestly,” said Torrens, “right now our goal is expanding our lunch and dinner service. We only serve breakfast at the farmers' market.”
“We started the breakfast menu a week ago,” added Vangieson.
With that in mind, I made a plan to visit their main spot for lunch. The NURISH food truck is parked in an industrial area at 2013 East Cedar Street in Tempe between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Torrens said they’d started the business with the Mediterranean bowl, so I ordered that, then sat in the privacy of my car and opened the lid. The smells wafting up in savory steam surprised me. Such a vastly different experience from the tiny, sad breakfast bowl that had reminded me of a summer camp serving.
The NURISH lunch bowls have depth and thought behind them. In the Mediterranean bowl, gentle tzatziki sauce cooled and complemented tender marinated pieces of chicken. All of the veggies — diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion — tasted fresh. And the cauliflower rice was plentiful, a soft bed of clean whole grains without any fuss.
The combination of proteins, vegetables, and cauliflower rice was perfectly balanced — something the couple said they had focused on when creating their menu.
Sitting in my car and eating my healthy lunch, hbu?
The second dish they developed was the Southwest bowl, a medley of riced cauliflower, chicken, corn, black beans, pico de gallo and a creamy cilantro lime dressing. Yee-haw and giddy-up: The bowl was flavorful and the rice guilt-free!
Other options include the pesto farm bowl, with freshly sliced zucchini pasta, chicken, roasted broccoli, tomatoes, and a sprinkling of parmesan. And for those who want to spice it up, the food truck offers the spicy stir-fry of the banh mi bowl. Here the cauliflower rice is blended with brown and topped with chicken, cucumber, pickled carrot (yum) and jalapeño, then sprinkled with green onion and drizzled in what the menu calls "banh mi sauce" and spicy lime mayo. The blend of exotic and clean ingredients is what keeps these lunch bowls exciting. You feel like you’re taking care of yourself, but there’s also something addictive about that chicken.
For being so new, NURISH food truck really has its branding and its lunch menu figured out.
“The truck space is perfect for us right now,” Vangieson said. “We operate from the same spot serving lunch so we can be there for the community as a healthy option. With our customers, we can get their feedback right away, and sometimes people have suggestions.”
Our suggestion is that we could do without the breakfast. But we’ll be back for those lunch bowls and a refreshing iced tea.
Find NURISH Fresh Eats food truck at 2013 East Cedar Street in Tempe from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Learn more at nurishfresheats.com.