• December 21, 2014

Mobile chefs test food-truck concept in Temple area

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Posted: Sunday, August 3, 2014 4:30 am

TEMPLE — Those looking for a gastronomic adventure know food trucks usually deliver, at least in larger cities.

While Temple is not teeming with food trucks or trailers, there are some people who are testing the local waters.

In Hog Heaven has been in operation for a couple of years, and for Sherry and Bonz Ayres, it’s all about the pig.

“I decided to go with pork because everybody does brisket in Texas,” she said.

They tried pulled pork sandwiches at multiple festivals in Round Rock and Austin before landing on a recipe.

“I practiced and practiced and we do it the same way every time,” Ayres said.

At one event, In Hog Heaven had some customers from the Carolinas, where pulled pork reigns. The visitors decided to give Ayres’ version a taste test.

Ayres doesn’t put cole slaw on her pulled pork, as some on the Eastern Seaboard do, but she does include pickled onions and sauce.

“They came back for more,” she said.

Ayres teaches in the Rogers Independent School District, so In Hog Heaven operates mainly in the summer and at festivals.

However, now until the start of school, the little blue house on a trailer will be parked on the south parking lot at Temple College serving up porky goodness from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“It’s a labor of love,” Ayres said of her part-time pastime. “It has to be.”

Preparing the pork is a 12-hour process and Ayres is up at 3 a.m. getting things together and pulling the pork at 4 a.m.

The menu selections include pulled pork sandwiches, pulled pork tacos, sausage wraps and porky pie, a new take on Frito pie.

Food truck fest

In Hog Heaven is one of nine food trucks that will participate in the Temple Parks Foundation Food Truck Fest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Santa Fe Depot.

The number of food trucks at the festival is limited since it is a new event and the estimation of attendance is a big unknown, said Kelly Garcia, Temple Parks Foundation member. Curtailing the number of trucks more likely will ensure each truck will receive enough business to make the effort worthwhile.

However, vendor slots are available, Garcia said.

The Parks Foundation board hopes to make the Food Truck Fest an annual event and its primary fundraiser, she said.

The Temple Parks Foundation supports the city parks in getting special projects completed. It was responsible for getting the Sam Farrow Amphitheater and dog park built, along with the Rotary playground for children with special needs.

The foundation is working on getting lighting for Scott & White Park by Travis Science Academy and renovated bathrooms at the Wilson Park Complex.

Vanilla Bean Bake Shoppe

Another participant in the Food Truck Fest will be the Vanilla Bean Bake Shoppe from Waco.

The business, a trailer at the beginning, got its start in June 2013 as a regular on Saturdays at the Waco Farmers Market, said Becky Chollett.

Just recently, Vanilla Bean Bake Shoppe opened full time at its permanent location at the corner of Sixth and Franklin in downtown Waco, Chollett said.

Chollett had wanted to open her own business and was told whatever she did needed to be her passion.

“I wasn’t sure that I had a passion, but I do like to bake and I do like to eat,” she said.

The Cholletts had been researching food trailers for a couple of years and knew the business model had been embraced in larger cities, but it hadn’t caught on in Waco.

The new style of food trailers — impeccably clean and offering outstanding fare — are quite different from the typical purveyor of funnels cakes and the like, found at community festivals and carnivals.

The concept is popular with Baylor students, many of whom are from larger cities, she said.

“It (Waco) is coming around,” Chollett said.

Vanilla Bean Bake Shoppe is housed in a 1971 Airstream, which the Cholletts found at a barn sale.

“I wanted something that was vintage and somewhat unique,” she said. “The trailer was perfect.”

The Bake Shoppe offerings include cookies, hand pies, cheesecake and cookie bars.

“We’re best known for our monster ice cream sandwiches,” Chollett said.

The treats are made to order using freshly baked cookies and Blue Bell ice cream. The monster ice cream sandwich is two 3-ounce cookies and three to four scoops of ice cream. Smaller sizes are available.

Mix of foods

At Food Truck Fest, vendors will offer a mix of new and familiar foods.

Burgers, hot dogs, popcorn and barbecue will be available, along with specialties from Greece, Korea and Guam.

Food trucks offer the community diversity in food offerings, and allow entrepreneurs to explore a unique element of the restaurant business, said Jennifer Graham, a proponent for a local food truck park.

“The festival is a great way to introduce the concept to our community, and I’d like to think that this kind of activity will develop into a permanent park that will develop a high-end mobile food industry in Temple,” she said.

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