Preparing for Adventure and the South X Southwest Festival!

I’m writing from the road this morning, some 200 miles from Austin and a couple of days from serving our first customers at South x Southwest – the inaugural festival for Nomad Street Cuisine’s new festival trailer, Danny Boy. For the record, Danny Boy draws a lot of inspiration from Woody, Bear’s Backyard’s first rig and the first open-air trailer approved by Larimer County Health. That said, Danny Boy is awesome, and at the risk of offending Woody I’d trade rigs in a heartbeat. Danny Boy features a 36″ grill and 36″ griddle, deep fryer, double steam table, double hot plate burners, a prep fridge, storage space, and a metal roof with an open-air interior. Big propane and water tanks allow high-intensity use all day long with 300,000 BTU’s of total cooking power! This machine was made to pump out great food at a rapid pace, and that’s what we intend to do in the days ahead.

Nomad was accepted into the prestigious Southbites Trailer Park, where Austin’s and the nation’s finest food trucks and trailers serve attendees of the Southbites Food Conference and other festival goers in downtown Austin. Nomad’s founder, Blake Shepler, mentioned to Bear’s founder, Curt Bear, (me, the writer of this infamous blog) his concern over the need to find locals in Austin to staff his rig for this event, due to the difficulty in paying for staff travel time. Bear’s Backyard is still hibernating, and festivals are always fun, so I agreed to help Blake staff for the festival and only get paid while I’m truly working – learning the festy craft from a young man better-trained-than I in large volume food production and dispensing. I mean, 16-hour days of frantically-paced ball busting labor at a near-minimum wage level – who wouldn’t jump on that opportunity! Those who know me well know it fits my character to sign up for adventures like this.

Joining us for the road trip to Austin is Umami Mobile Eatery founder, Ryan Martin. Martin sold Umami in the fall of 2014, and moved to Crested Butte where he enjoys a mostly ski-bum existence with his wife Chelsea – also a big part of Umami’s success. So with coolers packed full of frozen packages of corned buffalo, burgers, pulled pork, and an 8,000 lb. trailer full of brand new kitchen equipment, we set out from Fort Collins yesterday morning at 7 am, picking up Martin in Walsenberg before crawling up Raton Pass and heading out across Texas.

What does it look like to serve 500 people a day, 9 days in a row? Like many things, it takes a hell of a lot of planning followed by heavily applied elbow grease. We’re packing about 2/3 of what we hope we’ll need, and Blake has sourced both a commissary and food vendors for most of his menu items – if we’re busy, some of us will be cooking and others still slinging food, at a commissary kitchen we’ve never seen and in a city that most of us have never been. Sourced locally will be fresh vegetables and brioche rolls, and local cheeses. We’ll have to stay ahead of our thawing schedule, so that the proteins have adequate time to thaw and be ready to serve customers from the trailer.

I tip my hat to Blake – his training at the Culinary Institute trumps my “Credit and Management Trainee” with Community First National Bank for this endeavor, and he’s done a great job of it so far. We’re ready for the storm to come, and hope to come out of it with stronger reputations and stronger character for having taken on this grand adventure. Wish us luck, pray for us, and if you’re in Austin the next 10 days – check out Nomad Street Cuisine. We’ll be the rig flying the Colorado Flag in the Southbites Trailer Park in Austin Texas!