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Fort Hood is hopping on the food truck bandwagon.
Army & Air Force Exchange Service now sponsors a rotating cast of food trucks weekdays outside the Clear Creek Main Exchange and the 1st Cavalry Division Express.
Papa Jazzy’s Creole Kitchen was posted outside the shopping center on Jan. 8, serving customers despite the cold, rainy afternoon weather.
Owner John Williams is a New Orleans native who has spent the past 30 years in Texas, following his time in the service.
“I’m a hometown favorite,” he said of serving the local Fort Hood community. He operated Papa Jazzy’s in Harker Heights for more than 10 years before opening his mobile truck last July.
Sales on Fort Hood have steadily grown, much to Williams’ delight. With the construction on U.S. Highway 190, he saw business plummet at his previous location, prompting its closure and the move to a new endeavor.
“It’s simple, it’s compact and I have a captive audience,” he said. “Soldiers want something different, things they can’t normally get.”
At Papa Jazzy’s, that includes authentic south Louisiana offerings like crawfish.
“It’s the fastest thing in town, good food and the price is right,” Williams said with a laugh.
Spc. Hassan Williams, 15th Finance Battalion, 13th Financial Group, 13th Sustainment Command, a repeat Papa Jazzy’s customer, was spotted waiting in line.
“I’m from New Orleans ... it tastes like home,” Williams said.
He typically orders shrimp along with extra catfish.
“I really like it. It gives me that home-cooked taste, and there’s good customer service,” he said.
Nearer the shopping center entrance, Robert Brown runs his sweet shop, Oh Fudge!
He’s owned the business since 2009 and has operated on Fort Hood since early November. His love of fudge runs deep.
“I made it for my grandfather in high school (in Michigan),” Brown said of his start in culinary arts. Before selling fudge on the installation, he traveled to festivals and other military bases around the country.
Brown thanked soldiers for their service as he handed out chunks of freshly-made fudge. His most popular flavors are rocky road and chocolate pecan.
Working on Fort Hood is “great,” Brown said. “I like being outside.”
Along with fudge, he offers pasta handmade by a friend in Scottsdale, Ariz.
At the 1st Cavalry Division Express parking lot, Revenge of the Pork stood opposite the Twisted Mexican, awaiting hungry soldiers.
The pulled pork sandwich is the go-to menu item for Matthew Daniel White’s Revenge of the Pork.
White left the Army Oct. 3 after 12 years of service on and opened his food truck on Fort Hood on Nov. 1.
“I always intended to work in food,” he said. “A truck is simple; there’s not a lot of overhead. I purchased it, got in touch with AAFES, and it’s been great. I love feeding soldiers.”
White has been cooking since he was 15 years old, when his mom taught him.
So far, business has been great.
“Everyone seems to love it,” he said.
Like White, the chef at Twisted Mexican is an Army veteran who was taught to cook by his mother at a young age.
David Chavez opened the food truck on Fort Hood this past June, following 24 years of military service. After retiring as a first sergeant, Chavez worked for Fort Hood Family Housing while operating a catering business on the side.
Eventually, he enrolled as a culinary arts student at Central Texas College’s Fort Hood campus. He will graduate in May.
Chavez is a San Antonio native, but his style is unique.
“I’ve been around the world, I like to do a twist,” he said of his menu, which offers tacos featuring pork and chicken brisket along with a variety of sandwiches. Chavez plans to expand his offerings.
“I love it,” he said of his new business venture. “I’ve always been here for soldiers, and I love still being around soldiers.”