Last week, José Andrés confirmed that his very first food truck — Pepe — aims to launch in DC in late February serving Spanish sandwiches and non-alcoholic sangria. While working from home with his team to finalize menu plans for his Miami restaurant, the Spanish chef spoke with Eater by telephone about Pepe, food truck regulations in DC and his dream for a good samaritan future of food trucks. He also had some words for conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who recently mocked Andrés (and his accent) for statements he's made regarding childhood obesity.
That's exciting about the new truck.
Well, don't be excited.
I just saw Rush Limbaugh trashing me for my comments [about childhood obesity] on TV yesterday. I don't know if to celebrate being trashed by Limbaugh or to cry. I'm going to find out where he has his studio and I'm going to send him the truck. I mean it. I want to send him the truck. Rush Limbaugh: José wants to feed you.
How long have you been planning the truck?
I see a lot of the issues that the food trucks are experiencing. Those are young people and they're trying to make a living and are active members of their community. Instead of being at home waiting for an employment check they decided to be entrepreneurs. I think it's something that should be applauded. We know that trucks sometimes are given a hard time by officials. And sometimes it is because there is not even real legislation in place to handle the truck issue.
But anyway, at the end of the day I have restaurants, I don't have trucks. So you could argue if I had 50 or 100 trucks in my city it is taking away from my restaurants. But I would argue the contrary. I will say this gives life to a city like Washington, DC. And I like to have those smaller trucks that hopefully compete with the big fast food industry. I would prefer to have more local people that I know try hard to serve something unique, different, affordable, than the super-big corporations.
There are still negotiations happening in Washington about how to deal with the trucks — and I'm very happy it seems the mayor is moving forward with this issue. DC should be a good example to the mayors of every single city to make sure that they are active and creating the right environment. We have these small business owners providing a service to the city. I'd like to be part of this. That's why we're doing the truck.
So now I'm thinking about getting 100, but I'm trying to make sure that one works. And it's going to be very simple. We're going to do sandwiches, the sandwiches I grew up with. Nothing fancy, nothing big. You will find Iberico meat, you will find Iberico ham, you will find a goat cheese sandwich. We'll have a good vegetable sandwich with roasted vegetables from Catalonia. We have some potato chips that will be very delicious. We will have a gin and tonic without the gin but with the flavor — I have a green card. I don't want to lose it.
And the non-alcoholic sangria?
We will have a non-alcoholic sangria. But if you bribe the truck driver he'll be able to put some booze in your drink.
Excellent. I'll make sure to do that.
And then we'll have this ice cream flauta. Flautas are these long very thin things. They make very cute sandwiches because even a lady with a very small mouth can enjoy this very long flauta. And then the ice cream is kind of like an elongated whoopee pie.
Have you been taking it out on the streets for test drives?
We don't have the name attached yet. But yeah, I almost crashed it into a tree. Remember, if you drive a food truck and eat while driving, it's illegal. Or should be illegal.
So hopefully you'll launch in late February?
Yeah, we'll launch as soon as I feel more comfortable, but late February we'll be doing some testings here and there. My daughter asks me, "Daddy, daddy, can you do a testing in our school?" And daddy cannot say no. Again, I'm very happy with the truck culture that America has developed, quite frankly. This is almost like pop culture of food, right? And it's here to stay. I really admire people that are willing to risk everything they have to do something unique and special that enriches everything. So this is almost a way for me to say, "Here we are. We're going to support you."
Are you going to be joining the DC Food Truck Association?
I guess we'll need to join. My people are doing all that stuff.
That's great. And if all goes well, you'll have more?
Well, you know, I have dreams. I hope [it] never ever happens again, but if something else like Katrina happens in America, we can have a whole bunch of trucks who are going to help. Sometimes you just remember how slowly we reacted to Katrina and all those people who were in the Superdome. For two or three days we couldn't feed them properly. I don't think this is what we want to see happening in America. When we have a crisis, we can change the mode from a food truck for profit into a food truck for emergency. This is a dream of mine.
Yeah, so it's good. So as soon as I have the truck, I'll found out where Rush does his show and I will go and feed him.
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