With so many food trucks rolling around South Florida, there’s no excuse for skipping a meal. Fresh to the meals-on-wheels scene? Head to Abacoa’s monthly Food Truck Invasion featuring some 40 gastro wagons and live music.
Touted as the county’s first mobile gourmet kitchen, Matthew Somsy of West Palm-based Curbside Gourmet weighs in on the perks of a moveable feast.
PBI: Describe the cuisine you serve.
Somsy: I call it handheld New American. There’s Thai fusion and we use a lot of flavors without taking away from the food itself. For instance, with our fish tacos we’ll grill mahi with a little bit of cilantro, fresh lime, and salt and pepper. We don’t fry or marinate it. We work with farms like Swank and Kai Kai. People use the term “farm to table,” but we like to say “earth to table.” We use fresh, local ingredients not because it’s popular but because it’s just the right thing to do.
Why eat mobile: Besides food being cooked fresh in front of you, there’s a social aspect to it. People enjoy talking with the people around them. Food always sparks a good conversation.
Why Curbside’s special: We use ingredients you’d find in a fine restaurant, like gras-fed hamburgers and truffles. Everything is cooked to order, so it takes a little longer to serve.
Best part of the business: Getting our customer’s feedback. They’re not shy about telling you what they liked or didn’t—especially on social media.
Favorite dish on your menu: The Maine lobster roll. I’m from New England so I’m biased. It’s not overly mixed and we serve it on an old-school bakery bun with fresh lemon zest and French fries.
Other services you provide: We cater special events and weddings. This year alone we’ve catered more than 50 weddings.
Something about this industry you wish would go away: Trucks with loud graphics or have too much written on them. We kept ours plain so we can fit into any ambiance.
Most challenging part of the business: The South Florida heat. We have air conditioning but the equipment gets really hot. Once we did a private luncheon and it was 105 degrees out but inside, it felt like you were standing in a 500-degree oven.
Describe a proud moment: Winning “Food Truck Impossible” hosted by Robert Irvine at the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival in 2013. Flank steak was the secret ingredient. We made lemongrass Thai steak street tacos and Argentinian flank steak with heirloom tomatoes and truck made chimichurri. Now, we serve the tacos a few times a month.
Advice for future mobile truck entrepreneurs: If you think you’re going to make a million bucks doing this, it’s not going to happen. If you have a passion for cooking and want to get your food out there, then do it. Last time I checked, there were 264 food trucks registered. Find a niche that’s different from the rest.
Where we can find your truck: At Food Truck Invasions in Abacoa and Lake Worth.
What’s next: Working on opening a fast-casual oceanfront restaurant that only serves seafood.
For Somsy’s New England lobster roll recipe, go to page 2.
New England Lobster Rolls (serves 4)
- 4 1-to 1-¼ lb. lobsters
- ¼ cup and 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 4 top-split hot dog buns
- 2 tsp. unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup shredded Boston lettuce
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Prepare a large ice water bath, set aside. In a very large pot of boiling salted water, cook lobsters for 10 minutes or until they turn bright red. Using tongs, plunge lobsters into the ice water bath for two minutes, then drain.
- Twist off lobster tails and claws and remove the meat. Remove and discard the intestinal vein that runs the length of each lobster tail. Cut lobster meat into ½-inch pieces and pat dry. Strain then refrigerate until very cold, at least 1 hour.
- In a large bowl, mix lobster meat with mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper. Fold lemon juice until well blended.
- Heat a large skillet. Brush both sides of the hot dog buns with melted butter and toast over moderate heat until golden brown. Transfer buns to plates and fill with shredded lettuce and lobster salad. Serve immediately.