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Catching Up With Rising BBQ Competitor Wade Morris of TREmendous Que

One of the things we love doing at M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks is catching up with customers to see what they’re up to and hear how their trailer, truck, or other vehicle is working for them. Today we have the opportunity to talk to Wade Morris who operates TREmendous Que in Tampa, Florida. In 2016, Wade purchased a customized NS 72 SWT trailer he calls the “Mistress” (read the full interview below for the story behind the name).

Within just a few short years Wade has gone from grilling in his backyard with his setup from Home Depot to winning numerous awards for his smoked meats and crafting his own custom-made sauces like the Mighty Mango Habanero. Needless to say, we can’t wait to see what Wade does next!  Until then check out this interview with Wade Morris, where he shares his passion for traditional BBQ, methodology to cooking mouth-watering meats, and plans for the future! Enjoy!

Pork spares with homemade Mango Habanero Sauce from TREmendous Que.

M&R: How were you introduced to BBQ and competitions?

Wade: My father has shown me how to grill since I was knee high to a pickle but for barbecue I really started cooking in Ohio when we were stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB. Probably like most cooks out there I am a huge football fan. BBQ and football go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. So about 5 years ago, I was waiting for a football game to come on and my son was sleep on my chest. He was young and my fellow parents can all attest to how sacred that “quiet” time is. So instead of getting up, I just started channel surfing and came across a show called BBQ Pitmasters. It was a marathon and I watched every last episode. I missed the football game and immediately became hooked.

Later that weekend, I went out and bought my first pit. It was a Charbroil offset from Home Depot. Nothing fancy and not very big, but I threw it together in my garage and bought the first slab of ribs I could find. I’m not going to lie, those first ribs actually turned out pretty good. Feeling overly confident, I thought I would try my hand at a pork butt next. That brought me back down to earth real quick. I kept cooking though, perfecting my craft…I just wanted to do a competition and eventually do well enough to get an invite to the show that got it all started. A bit ambitious but I figured all those guys got started like I did in their backyard cooking for friends and family. Eventually we PCS’d (moved) to MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL.

We hadn’t been in Tampa but maybe 2 or 3 months and I started looking for another cooker. I wanted something on a trailer and with the capacity to cook a whole hog. I had no real need for either but I kept remembering the whole hog my dad did up after I graduated from school and thought about how cool I thought that was. I figured I could find what I was looking for on Craigslist so that’s where I started. One of the listings was for a guy that built cookers. When we went by to meet him and see some of the pits he had built, he told me about a contest that his friend was putting on in a couple of months. It was in town and the second year they were holding the contest. I didn’t buy a pit from the guy but I did sign up for my first contest!

In November 2015, I rented a U-Haul, packed up my Charbroil, Kingsford Kettle grill, a couple of tables, a huge cooler, pop-up tent, and some lawn chairs and did my first BBQ competition. I took 2nd in Pork and 2nd in Brisket. I was exhausted but more important I was hooked and haven’t looked back since.

Watch Part 1 of the TREmendous Barbecue Trailer Review with Wade Morris

M&R: What do you consider to be your style of BBQ?

Wade: Style…? Like virtually every other aspect of our lives and food, Barbecue has its styles too. Kansas City, Memphis, Carolina’s, and Texas. My style probably leans more so towards Kansas City BBQ than any other if only because KC is sort of a melting pot for styles from so many of the regions around it. Because KC is centrally located, it has picked up many of the characteristics from a lot of passersby over the years. But some of the staples are sweet/molasses and tomato. I would definitely say that is what characterizes my barbecue.

But for me, personally, I think traditionalism is the most important part of my barbecue. I have always had a thing for nostalgia…Keeping it old school and keeping it simple. If you take a look at the history of barbecue and the culture that has surrounded it, you’ll notice that it is filled with blue-collar workers, large social gatherings, and cheap cuts of meat. There wasn’t a lot of fancy rubs, sauces, and injections, just meat, fire, and long hours tending the coals. That is what I try to remember when I am cooking… the Tradition.

Tradition is what makes the difference. Whether you are cooking on the competition trail or in the backyard. Repetition and consistency are key and two of the hardest things to master. But that is what I aim for every time I fire up the pit. I keep it simple and honor the old school method of low and slow. That is a flavor that cannot be replicated in an oven, crock-pot, or with propane. It can’t be rushed, reasoned with, or imitated. That is what makes my product/style unique. I am not in it for the money so I don’t need to cut corners or sacrifice quality for quantity. I can burn 100% wood, buy a good grade of meat and take my time to turn out genuinely authentic and juicy barbecue because that is what I love to do!

M&R: I see from your Facebook page that you make your own style of BBQ sauce. What is your BBQ sauce like?

Wade: If southerners like their Tea Sweet, then they’ll love this sauce! In a word, its TREMENDOUS. Sticking with the traditionalist theme, my sauce is simple to make and super sweet. It is thin, has a hint of black pepper and a brilliant red color to it. It is a long time in the making, almost 3 years to be exact. But the beautiful thing is that it is doesn’t take that long to make. I could probably whip up some complex concoction that would have me in a white lab coat and rubber gloves and eye goggles, but I like things simple and that is the main ingredient. I stay experimenting though and always looking for new flavors to add to our tool bag.

Just recently we actually threw together a sort of island blend, the Mighty Mango Habanero. This sauce is good in and of itself but when married to BBQ it turns into something amazing. There’s sweet. There’s heat. And just a whole lot of rich and savory goodness. It is light and compliments not just TREmendous Que products but all your cuts you are thinking about cooking up, whether on the grill, smoker, or even in the oven. There really is no wrong way to serve up this newest addition to the family.

Watch Part II of the TREmendous barbecue trailer review with Wade Morris.
M&R: What goes into making BBQ sauce?

Wade: What goes into making BBQ sauce? A little bit of everything. I have watched television shows like ‘Man, Fire, Food,’ ‘BBQ Pitmasters,’ ‘BBQ Pitwars’ and ‘Smoked.’ I have joined virtually every online BBQ forum I could find, read books and online articles, and even talked to other pitmasters on the competition trail. In the end the most important lessons I learned were all from trial and error. Nothing beats putting a pan on the stove and standing there adding a little of this and a little of that always taking notes along the way. And of course, scurrying over to the wife, wooden spoon in hand asking her to taste the latest and greatest as she rolls her eyes because this is the 5th batch of the evening.

Her palette was always phase 1, if the sauce made it past phase 1 then I would put it to test during a cook out or get together. Towards the end, I would always ask what everyone thought of the sauce and my scale was simple: either it was hot or not. I was/am my own hardest critic and pretty much would only let a sauce out of phase 2 if folks raved and asked about how they could get some. Anything short of “we loved it” just didn’t matter to me, because I wanted only the best. Each and every time you try our products I want as much flavor packed into it as possible so any time I took results I always polarized them and that took me to phase 3.

Phase 3 was performance at BBQ competitions. This phase was a little bit harder to determine how much of the success…or lack thereof, was attributable to the sauce, but I took notes based on scores and how the sauce performed as I was prepping the food in my turn-in boxes. Believe it or not, BBQ sauce is served in multiple different fashions and at multiple temps, so I even took notes on physical characteristics of the sauce in a variety of environments. Folks get more annoyed than they consciously admit when bottles get clogged or they need to beat the bottle to get that little bit of sauce at the bottom. So 3 phases in, if a sauce has made it this far, then the recipe will make to the ‘She’s a Keeper’ pile.

M&R: What’s your “secret” to success in BBQ competitions?

Wade: I don’t have a secret. In fact I share as much as I can. And I always lead off with the same thing, consistency is key. I have had really good cooks and really bad cooks. Each and every time I took copious notes but there are always going to be variables, for instance, you will never cook the same piece of meat twice and never burn the same log twice. So you try to control the things you can like the temperature, the age/grade of the wood, the quality of the meat you cook, the humidity of the cook chamber, and how clean of a fire you burn.

Great barbecue is all about the basics. Don’t start off complicated with crazy rub and sauce mixtures, stick to tradition and keep it simple. Master your fire management, learn to recognize good cuts of meat, inspect your wood so you know the difference between seasoned and rotten wood and how it performs on your pit. As you cook more and improve these skills you will naturally pick up tricks along the way.

So my ‘secret’ if I had to give it up is to keep it simple, take notes, and try to reduce as many of the variables as you can. If you can attain a consistency that your patrons can trust they will definitely keep coming back!

Wade serving up some incredible tomahawk steaks.
M&R: What equipment and size is your BBQ trailer? Any unique things that you like about it?

Wade: My first cooker was a Charbroil off-set from a big box store. Those things are probably only supposed to last 2 maybe, 3 years, but I have managed to keep my burning for more than five. I call her my “Ol’ Lady.” It’s a traditional off-set and can do 1 large brisket or 2 butts or about 8 slabs of St. Louis style ribs. I didn’t make any modifications to this pit even though I have thought about it many times. Those are probably coming very soon those as I think she is on her last leg and I don’t want to let her go. The second barbecue I got was my M&R trailer and she is the “Mistress.”

The Mistress is six feet wide, 24” deep and 22” high. She is long enough to do 18 full slabs, 14-16 – 15lb briskets, 12 – 20lb turkeys, or even a whole hog. All of that capacity is great but my favorite functional feature is the reverse flow design. Unlike traditional off-sets, the reverse-flow design forces the air and smoke from the firebox along the bottom of the cook chamber inside of channel created via a metal pane. The smoke raises into the cook chamber at the end opposite of the firebox through an opening in the metal pane and reverses flow back towards the side with the firebox and stacks. The smoke then smacks the meat and does a few circus tricks before exiting through the smoke stacks which are situated on the same side of the pit as the firebox. Once the pane heats up, it helps with heat retention because it will bring the temperature inside the cook chamber back up quicker than a traditional off-set would. This helps a lot especially during the cooler cooks during overnight competitions when you have to open the pit to wrap meats.

Three other features that I really like about my M&R trailer are the smoke stacks, box design, and rims. The ‘cool’ factor of the dual stacks on the cook chamber and then the third on the warmer box next to them just makes for a very sexy design. When I am pulling my pit down the road, I can’t even begin to tell you how many ‘thumbs up’ I get from other cars. At competitions, even though I usually do not vend because I am a very small team, I always get people coming up and saying “Wow, is that rims on a BBQ pit?” or “That’s cool!” referencing the versatility of a barbecue trailer with a 6’ cooker, 3 open storage compartments, a high pressure propane burner, a 22’ x 22’ grill, a warmer box, and even the Kitchen sink!

I had been looking at a lot of different cookers but I went with M&R because they had great workmanship and a great price point. After seeing their original 72 SWT (Smoker, Warmer Box, Trailer) video I called them up and asked if they would be amiable to me taking their original design and customizing it. They were 100% on board from the jump. I literally drew up my concept on a piece of paper and emailed it over to them. After a couple of weeks of back and forth and exchanging ideas, they digitized it and eventually we have the monster I cook on today. From first contact until I picked up the pit it was probably about 4 months. I couldn’t be happier with the performance and look of the pit. I was able to get something custom made with a ton of versatility but still maintain the staples of a traditional barbecue with the sleek black paint, big firebox and great performance.

M&R: What’s the goal for your competition BBQ career?

Wade: Easy. No. 1 at The Jack, the Kingsford Invitational, American Royal and the Memphis in May! To win Grand Champion at those events, or hell even just one, would probably be the highlight of a cook’s career besides their first ever Grand Championship. The Jack, Kingsford Invitational and American Royal are all invite only. You need to win a qualifying Grand Championship or State Grand Championship to get an invite. The Memphis in May is a whole hog contest and whole hog is something I feel every pitmaster should try at least once if only for bragging rights. Some cooks believe you can’t really master BBQ without tackling the whole hog but I think that it would just be a great experience that could only be beat by maybe the whole cow, which I have seen before!

Nothing succeeds in life like excess! I love BBQ, almost every aspect of it (competition chicken prep probably being the only thing I could do without)! Anything I do with this hobby I am always looking to improve, learn, or just have fun. I am by no means perfect and competition BBQ is not backyard, so there are a lot of differences and even more that I still have yet to learn. But I think to win those, more so than anything else, would give me a sense of self-satisfaction with BBQ that, I think, could only be rivaled by the raving I hear from customers after they try my food. I am a people pleaser, but winning those contest would be for me and for bragging rights!

On the business side of things, I want to open up a simple BBQ joint after I retire from the military. Sticking with tradition, I envision something like Franklin Barbecue (Austin, TX) or Adamson Barbecue (Toronto, Ontario in Canada) where I am open from 11am until SOLD OUT! I don’t want set hours, because that means guaranteeing product which means you always buy more than you sell but more importantly I think you lose quality if you have set hours. Because you would need to always have meat available, you have to do unnatural things to it in order to hold it throughout the day and keep it moist. If you get a line before you even open up and slice as you serve until you sell out you can ensure you are always giving the best possible, top-quality product to your customers.

I am not a mad scientist but every little thing counts and the guys and gals that make it, I mean really make it, in this industry pay attention to detail and sweat the small stuff because they know that’s what it takes to stay consistent. I love this industry because cooks are not always on the lookout for the newest trends in cuisine like chefs need to do keep their restaurant current or trying to create some super fancy dish. It’s just a bunch of good people that like great barbecue. I sort of equate it to the camaraderie of the military. Every time we move, we are always welcomed with open arms by other military families because they know what it’s like to be the “new kid on the block” every 2-3 years. In BBQ, no matter where we go, we are greeted with open arms by folks that love to eat and talk about this crazy hobby!

M&R: Thank you for your time and sharing your story with us. Any final thoughts? Where can folks find you competing at next?

Wade: I am from a working class family but what I love about this BBQ thing is that it transcends your social class, wealth status, and culture. Barbecue is the people’s food. It doesn’t matter where you are from, if you eat meat (or even if you don’t we got some grilled veggies for you too!) and like friends and family this is the food for you. You can laugh, eat, drink, kick back and relax and I love that about it!

My next competition will likely not be until the fall as my job starts to ramp up going into the summer through the end of September. But you can find TREmendous Que every First Sunday in Riverview just pass the corner of US 301 and Balm Rd. We are right off of US 301 on the east side of the road! Be sure to check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/tremendousque, Instagram, or Youtube “TREmendous Que.” We will always have the latest and greatest info about where we will be and what we will be cooking up!

Jacksonville’s Newest Desert Craving: Stroopwafels from Van D’s Dutch Delights

Van D’s Dutch Delights Desert Trailer.

Got a craving for warm and delicious stroopwafel? If you live in the Jacksonville area finding freshly baked Dutch inspired deserts can be nearly impossible. Fortunately in 2016, Van D’s Dutch Delights entered the scene to fill the void and quickly become a staple of the Jacksonville food truck community. Since starting their mobile food business Van D’s isn’t just serving up one-of-a-kind deserts, but has introduced countless locals to a whole new food group that many didn’t even know existed.

Take for example the stroopwafel, a Dutch word that translates to “syrup waffle” in English.  The stroopwafel is a staple of the Van D’s Dutch Delights menu and can best be described by this writer as two super thin waffles put together with syrup in the middle. Another accurate description is just plain old delicious and although many in the United States have never tried it, the treat is extremely popular desert in the Netherlands.

Of course, Van D’s Dutch Delights has taken it’s own spin on this traditional desert by serving amped up variations of this classic by adding chocolate, strawberry, caramel or cinnamon. View photos of a sample of their tasty treats below.

Stroopwafel’s and other tasty treats from Van D’s Dutch Delights.

The Abridged History of the Stroopwafel

Although the exact date the stroopwafel was first invented is debated (most reports state the late 18th century or early 19th century), the desert hails from Gouda, a municipality in South Holland that was founded in the middle ages. Today, it is reported that there are four active factories in Gouda  that continue to produce the stroopwafel for mass consumption.

As the story goes a baker by the name of Gerard Kamphuisen was looking for ways to reduce waste and created the stroopwafel with excess dough. Gerard’s creation would quickly go on to become a local favorite and eventually a traditional desert.

Learn More about Van D’s Dutch Delights

If you live in the Jacksonville area, you can find out where Van D’s will be heading next by visiting their Events page on Facebook. You can regularly find them at popular food truck destinations such as the Jax Food Truck Court or catch them early next month at the Fleming Island Plantation.

In addition stroopwafels, Van D’s also serves hot chocolate, Dutch coffee, malts and ice cream. The Dutch coffee or hot chocolate in particular are an excellent compliment to a stroopwafel. Bonus Tip: A common way to enjoy this desert is to place it over a cup of hot coco or coffee to help warm the desert and melt the syrup.

M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, located just outside of Jacksonville, FL, is proud to have built this one-of-a-kind desert trailer. The external wrap was completed by the fine folks at MediaWorks Graphic (recently acquired by Dimension Design) in Jacksonville.

 

Refuge Coffee Co. – Job Training and Change Through a Coffee Truck

At M&R we have the privilege of working with many different entrepreneurs and organizations across the country to help build their unique vision. The story of Refuge Coffee Co. based out of Clarkston, GA, (located just outside Atlanta) was one we had to share with you on the blog.

Refuge Coffee Co. is a non-profit organization formed with the goal of creating more jobs and providing job training to some of the 2,500 refuges that settle in the Clarkston each year. Since Refuge Coffee Co. is a new non-profit without an endless amount of resources they chose to begin their venture with a single mobile coffee truck. To help raise capital for the conversion, they started a crowd-funding campaign (video from the campaign is below) on PureCharity.com and were able to raise $30,000 for the conversion. Refuge Coffee Co.’s is goal is to ultimately become will be a self-sustaining organization with a coffee shop and brand of coffee supplying revenue in addition to the truck.

Kitti Murray, founder of Refuge Coffee Co., was kind enough to take the time to respond to a few of our questions about the non-profit and plans for the recently built coffee truck. If you want to learn more, visit RefugeCoffeeCo.com

 

M&R: Tell us how Refuge Coffee Co. got started? 

Kitti: My husband and I moved to Clarkston three years ago, fully aware of the demographic here, but with no plans other than to be good neighbors to the refugees in our neighborhood. It was an intentional move in that sense, but no plans to start a business.
Of the many challenges, the job situation for most resettled refugees was abysmal and weighed on our hearts. (A jobless rate that was half the state average and really bad options at that.) We also noticed right away that while there were many small mono-ethnic shops/restaurants here, there was no multi-ethnic community hub.

I’d heard that 85% of immigrants to our country have never been inside an American home. It seemed to me there was a hospitality gap as well as job/financial one. Yikes – no coffee shop! I think the coffee shop is kind of like an extension of the American living room, so in time, the idea for a coffee shop that would employ and train refugees lodged in my head. But I kept thinking I’d tell younger, smarter people about it and someone would do it! Eventually, the conversations led back to me doing it.

M&R: What are some of the challenges that refugees face in Clarkson? 

Kitti: I’ve included a flyer about us that tells some of this. CNN called us the “most diverse square mile in the world.” I think it is beautiful here – a mash-up of African/Asian/Arabic cultures. But because it is low-income and under-served, people are not drawn here… and they miss out. Over 60 languages… women walk down the street with baskets on their heads and elderly Nepali women bow and tell you Namaste everywhere you go.

M&R: What was it like setting up a non-profit? Was it easy to get support? Difficult? Explain the process. 

Kitti: Well, my husband and I have been in the ministry/non-profit world for years, but nothing prepared me for the challenges or the exhilaration of this whole thing. People have gotten behind us like crazy. But it’s still scary every single day. I think the thing I had going for me (this is my baby, but my husband is the biggest cheerleader) is that I know what I don’t know, which is almost everything. Zero business acumen. So I cashed in dozens of one hour free consultations. I have mentors. We have great attorneys and an even greater board of directors. Plywood People (look them up!) agreed to sponsor us at the beginning. Caleb Goodrum (our Director of Operations) and I found each other through some weird connections… We could NOT do this without him. Safehouse Roasters has been invaluable. A friend in the community offered to raise her own salary so she could head up our job training… So many smart, gifted people and organizations. It’s been great.

M&R: How did you come up with the big idea #1 for a coffee truck? 

Kitti: I started out wanting to build a shop (that’s phase two). Our board suggested the truck as a test and a way to start “small” – it’s kind of our minimum viable product that doesn’t feel minimum. Over time, we’ve realized what a great decision that was. We want to tell the Clarkston story to Atlanta and this is such a great way to do that. Our trainees get to experience so many wonderful parts of our city. It makes us nimble as we figure out sustainability. And besides, it looks so great!

M&R: What are your goals for year one of Refuge Coffee Co.? 

Kitti: Oh, we have goals! To create a culture that celebrates the refugee community. To become sustainable (i.e. profitable, so we don’t rely on donations). To build so much buy-in in the community and beyond that by the end of one year we are raising funds to build a shop here. To put little, beautiful Clarkston on the map!

Data supplied by Refuge Coffee Co.

Data supplied by Refuge Coffee Co.

 

M&R: Where can folks go to learn more?

Kitti: Social media tells the up-to-date story, so anyone who wants to know more or wants to share might want to start there. Our website offers a way to donate… we are in need of the final dollars of our start-up capital, so donations are more than welcome these days. Also – we are in Clarkston (4170 East Ponce de Leon) every Wednesday from 7 am till 4 pm… It’s less than a mile outside 285, four miles from Decatur. The best way to learn is to experience, right

Inside Look at the Runway Grill Truck

We’re back at M&R Trailers with Bob, and he’s got a concession truck he wants to show us for today’s video upload! This one’s rather good sized, made for The Runway Grill a couple years back, with a 17 foot box on it, we were able to get a good solid kitchen in it while keeping plenty of room for moving around.

This was originally a used truck with a Roll-up Door design; we eliminated all of the roll-up doors, rebuilt the walls, and set everything up for our customer’s needs. It made for quite a truck, big vehicle, a lot of room, and it came out very well, we’re quite happy with it. We would certainly love to put you in something like this, and this item may be big but we can do any size all the way down to sno-cone kiosks. But for now let’s take a look at this particular project.

Some of the highlights of this trailer include:   

  • 11 foot Hood system
  • All New Equipment and Outfitting (not counting two 24” griddles supplied by owner)
  • Various Cabinetry above and beneath all sink and prep tables for optimum storage capabilities
  • 2 ½” Foam insulation in all walls and ceiling

Eat at The Runway Grill

While also presently owning a restaurant in Panama City, you can find the new mobile eatery nearby as they bring food to hungry beachgoers. The food they offer is always amazing, offering up local sandwiches and such for easy consumption. If anyone has any other information on them feel free to send us some links in that regard.

Customer Success Story: Super Food Truck

Here at M&R Trailers, we put a lot of time and effort into the work we do, focusing as much attention as we can into making quality products. We love nothing more than seeing our trucks, trailers, and bbq equipment at work out on the streets and in competitions. So it’s an even greater pleasure to see our customers succeed and shine in their field, much like Jacksonville’s own Super Food Truck. We wanted to catch up with them and their success, so we sat down with Richie Haugk to talk about their journey, truck, and where they’re going.

Question: Thanks for talking with us Richie, great to have you back! Why don’t we go down memory road a bit with how you guys started off in the industry?

Richie: I’ve been a chef my whole career, and I was really looking to start something small, always trying to do something to think big but with small aspects, and a Food Truck is the perfect way to do that. It’s just a great way to get your food directly to the consumer, instead of, you know, going through the channels of working for someone else.

sft1The concept is how I want America to eat; I thought about doing some of the more popular food trucks, that were maybe a little easier and popular, but I decided to go to the Super Food Theme, so that people get food of substance, not just eating cheese! There’s super food all throughout our menu, on every item, some items are very good food and other items are more comforting, so we cover all items on them.

It’s been quite a roller coaster, we were one of the first food trucks that started out in Jacksonville, there was really nobody to set the trails for us, so we had to figure out a lot of things on our own. The first year was definitely very difficult, a variety of things that go wrong on a daily basis, the second year was getting us picked up quite well, we started to become more educated to the food truck market as well as being able to iron out some kinks. So we were approached a lot more for business the second year, made things a lot easier with people trying to find it, and that just got the ball rolling.

Q: What decisions went into the build for your food truck, and how has it been treating you these past years?

Richie: I wanted to go with a regular food truck instead of a trailer, since it’s a little more traditional, and then I didn’t need to buy another truck to tow it around as well. So I did a traditional, and we bought our actual truck from Disney World, was pretty well taken care of, a good sized truck, then we basically figured out what kind of equipment we needed for the type of menu we were going to have. And then our trailer is designed around so everything works properly.

Q: So why go to Jacksonville?

Richie: This is where we grew up, when we were first looking at food trucks there was no trucks out whatsoever, and there was nowhere to eat at one when we began the adventure so there was nobody to model after. We wanted to kinda start out here, and there was just barely seed of an industry when we were beginning, so we wanted to help make it happen here in our own town instead of moving somewhere else to do it.

Q: To keep it simple, what’s been some of your best moments or business successes since starting up? You worst?

Richie: Oh goodness! There’s been some decent moments, let me see… I would say the best moments is the ending of this one park, when we had a very successful week, worked our tails off the entire week, but ended putting a lot of money into the bank and get over that hump. Also, the two weddings I’ve done, they were just great, flawless, had great reviews, and some of them ended up getting set up to other things, we really liked the reviews on them.

Some of the worst moments, man there’s been a lot of them. The generator breaking down, definitely, the propane pipes busting. But the engine blowing, that was definitely the biggest, when it blew on the food truck. Luckily we were only down and out for a week though. M&R helped very much with all of these, in fact on the way back from doing an event at M&R Trailers our serpentine belt broke, and I wasn’t that far from them. So I called them to see if they knew anybody for repair, unfortunately it was a Saturday afternoon so nobody could actually repair it on that day, but they towed my truck all the way back, put chains around the bumper and pulled it with their Ford 350. About a half an hour back, they kept it there overnight, got the belt fixed very cheap and it ended up not being a big deal at all.

Q: Anything you’d do differently?sft2

Richie: No, I love it!

Q: I hear you’re planning on going brick-and-mortar, tell us a bit about that project.

Richie: Yep, we happen to have an opportunity to move into a great location downtown, so we’re super excited about doing that as well as the food truck for special events. But the restaurant has always kind of been a goal to achieve, so it’s nice being able to pull it off.

Q: What’s the process been like for that, especially after all the time on Food Truck-related concerns?

Richie: Well the process has been decent, it’s always up and down, you never know what’s next, you get money you have to tuck it away, it’s not as easy-come easy-go. But you’ve got to work a lot of hours, don’t get a high hourly wage (maybe like $8/hr).

I guess with the Food Truck it’s been sort of a means to an end to build up the reputation for the restaurant, and the feeling is much higher at a restaurant because of the amount of volume you’re able to do, alcohol sales, and different outlets you’re able to do.

Q: So is this solely where you guys are looking to, or do you have a couple other near or far future plans on your mind?

Richie: Yeah I don’t wanna give away all the secrets, but we’re gonna have the food truck as well as the restaurant, and it looks like we’re going to be taking over the space next to the restaurant right now, so there’s already room for expansion right there. And then there’s a couple other locations we’re looking into downtown, as well as we’re gonna be wanting to go to the beach somewhere in the future right now, a good demographic for our food style.

Q: Is there any particular piece of advice you’d like to impart on new owners getting into the mobile catering business?

Richie: Just be ready for the ups and downs of the mobile food industry. I don’t recommend it for anybody who’s not in the restaurant industry already, because it’s already just a tremendous beast. And then add on to driving your kitchen to places… I just hope you’re in the industry already and know what to expect. Service is actually the easiest time of the day, normally the rush should be the toughest!

We are very happy to hear of the stories and successes that SFT’s has been able to garner, and are so proud to see our product being used in action by such an amazing team! M&R Trailers continue to wish them the best of luck in their future goals, and can’t wait to hear back from them again!

Mobile Cooling Station: The Polar Pod in Jacksonville, FL

At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks there’s a saying we use to describe our custom builds: If you can dream it, we can build it. 

This statement certainly applies to Steve Perry’s mobile cooling station called The Polar Pod based out of Jacksonville, Florida. As seen in the video below, Steve shares how he came up with the idea for his mobile cooling concept:

During a hot day of biking on the beach with some friends, Steve became overheated. After a while, Steve thought something could be medically wrong as he couldn’t seem to cool down enough. So Steve asked a restaurant owner if he could sit in his walk-in cooler to bring his temperature down. The restaurant owner agreed and after just a few short minutes in the cooler Steve started feeling a lot better. That’s when Steve had his entrepreneurial “Aha moment” to start The Polar Pod.

In addition to providing a fun venue to cool down with a flat screen television, The Polar Pod offers a variety of health and safety benefits to attendees of large events like concerts and rallies during summer months. Heat related issues can be life-threatending, especially among the elderly, having an on-site cooling unit that’s mobile can be a key prevention tool for ailments like heat stroke. For most people, all that is needed is 5 – 10 minutes in The Polar Pod and they’re refreshed and ready to get back to doing what they love outdoors.

Above is a promotional video that provides additional information about the business. The Polar Pod is available for rent in Jacksonville and the surrounding area. You can get in contact with Steve and The Polar Pod by visiting their website or reaching out to them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Gourmet Aviator Concession Truck Flying High in Jacksonville

The Gourmet Aviator is a food truck that received high praise for it’s design when it was built in 2012. The truck was even featured on the cover of ADVANTAGE Business Magazine (cover image shown to the right) that same year. Fast forward two years, the Gourmet Aviator continues to receive recognition for their food.

Not only has the truck become a familiar staple of the Jacksonville food truck scene, but Alex Montanez of the Grilled Aviator competed on and won a cooking competition on the program American Grilled on the Travel Channel. The video below is a teaser to the program Alex was featured.


In today’s blog post, we take another look at the Gourmet Aviator on Alex’s second day of operating the food truck. This concession truck went through an incredible transformation and was originally an old Frito Lay truck. It just goes to show you as long as the foundation of the truck is intact and the engine is running well, these older trucks can be completely overhauled to create a longterm mobile business.

Highlights from the Video

  • Get a 360 degree view of this unique aviator food truck wrap.
  • 18 foot truck that was completely redone.
  • 8 kw Generac Generator – The generator will also slide out for easy servicing.
  • View the external cord connection that enables direct power to the vehicle.

If you live in the Jacksonville area, check out the Gourmet Aviator website for more information about the business or to book them at your next catering event. You can also view the list of delicious menu items that are available, including Plantain Sliders and Nutella Empanadas.

A Closer Look at Orlando’s Bem-Bom Concession Truck

Bem-Bom is a truly unique food truck serving up Portuguese and Tex-Mex inspired dishes to residents of the Orlando area. In many cases, Bem-Bom serves meals you simply can’t find anywhere else. A couple examples from the menu include Piri-Piri Chicken Prego and The Running Duck, a duck confit sautéed with chilies and Thai basil that received two thumbs up from Bob. Bem-Bom is owned and operated by Francisco Mendonca whose customers often refer to him as “Chef Chico” for short.

In today’s video, we learn more about Chef Chico, Bem-Bom, and the concession truck used to operate his business. This truck was built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks in 2012, but Chico’s business continues to thrive as we reach the conclusion of 2014. Chico’s truck is regularly booked for catering events, private parties, and was at the Downtown Lakeland Food Truck Rally earlier this week. If you would like to book Bem-Bom for your next event, click here.

In the Video

As Bob mentions at the beginning of the video, sometimes there are misunderstandings when building custom food trucks. There’s the potential for this to happen no matter what manufacturer you ultimately choose to work with, even when they have years of experience like M&R.

However, when mistakes are made, we believe in fixing it to make the situation right. In this case, we drove down to Orlando to install a side-tray on the exterior of the vehicle.Later in the film, Chef Chico provides a description of the food served on Bem-Bom and Bob gives an all-access tour of the concession truck.

We wish Chef Chico and Bem-Bom continued success heading into 2015 and beyond!

Why Florida’s M Shack Restaurant Added a Mobile Presence

M Shack Food Truck What happens when two brothers that grew up in the catering business decide to open a restaurant together? If you’re the Medure brothers (Mathew and David), you join forces to create an vintage-inspired burger joint with a new-school twist serving up hormone-free burgers and fresh-cut fries called M Shack. Although only opening the doors to their first retail location in 2011, the brothers expect to be operating a fifth location in early 2015.

No doubt the Medure brothers have struck a chord with their ever growing customer base. One of the elements we love about this brand is their ability to take something that’s familiar, like a burger joint complete hand-spun shakes and then get creative with the execution of menu items you can’t find anywhere else like the Cross-Fit Burger that features two patties,  lettuce, tomato, avocado, grilled mushrooms, peppers, onions, bacon, a fried egg and no bun.

In addition to their unique brand, M Shack also worked with M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks to build a food trailer for their growing business. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Mathew Medure to learn more about his business and why a mobile presence was the right choice for M Shack.

M&R: Tell us a little about your background and how you and your brother got involved in the restaurant business?

Mathew:My brother and I grew up in the family catering business, just outside of Pittsburgh, PA.  We would cook once in a while, but mostly the laborious work like loading and unloading halls, scrubbing floors and utility work.

M&R: Can you tell us about the concept of your restaurant MShack and where you’re located?

Mathew: The M Shack conceptually was created to have fun with building a better quality burger while offering shakes and other comfort foods.  Our first store was built in 2011 in Atlantic Beach, and then another a year later at the St John Town Center.  We most recently bought a food trailer and park it at our commissary serving lunch and dinner, outside seating only.  We are currently constructing our fourth M Shack in Five Point scheduled to open its doors the first of the year.

Outside-trailer

M&R: What encouraged you to begin looking into investment in a food trailer for your restaurant?

Mathew: We simply wanted the ability to mobilize if we felt the desire. The benefits the food trailer has afforded is flexibility. Our first event with the trailer was at a private residence serving 250 guests a four course meal…pretty cool.

M&R: What are some of the key differences between running a restaurant location and operating a trailer?

Mathew: The trailer and food truck world allows the participant to get out into the community quickly and economically and start showing off their craft.

To find the M Shack location nearest you, check out MShackBurgers.com. If you’d like to learn more about developing a mobile presence for your restaurant, contact us.

How Grillin’ Gaines Does Barbecue

Grillin Gaines

Tim Gaines shown right.

Tim Gaines’ passion for the grill began at an early age during summer visits to his grandparent’s farm in North Carolina. It was there Tim learned the art of smoking and slow roasting meats from his family. Today, Tim owns his own catering business called Grillin’ Gaines where he shares the long tradition of slow roasting with his customers.

In this Q/A interview, Tim shares what inspired him to get started in the catering business along with some insider tips for winning a BBQ competition. 

 

M&R: Tell us a little about Grillin’ Gaines and your approach to barbecue.

Tim: I was taught the art of smoking meats at very young age while visiting my granddad on his farm in North Carolina. Here is where low and slow was the key. Although while growing up in Tallahassee and living throughout Florida my journey lead me the opportunity with working with many talented chefs. I always had a dream to share some of the past down home recipes from my granddad, aunts and uncles. Our barbeque is the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, tangy and smoky favors that is a little Carolina, Memphis, St. Louis and Texas all combined.

M&R: What do you consider your specialty?

Tim: My specialty in the terms of BBQ is pork in North Carolina it is all about the pork and vinegar base sauces. I’m always tweaking recipes to deliver the best product while honing my skills we also specialize in brisket and other smoked meats. Every great joint must be able to deliver tender moist brisket. I’m a true believer to providing the finest service and food products to our customers through uncompromising efforts and standards.

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M&R: Do you have any tips you would like to share on winning a BBQ competition?

Tim: Along with catering we also compete in the BBQ competition circuit where we have received many awards. A true moment was my first competition at The Old Florida Outdoor Festival. Here is where we received 1st place in the chicken category and third place ribs.

When cooking BBQ competitions starts with weeks of planning sure you can get ready the night before but believe me you will wish you took the time to prepare. During preparation I tweak my recipes if needed and create a time line for execution. I have a schedule which I keep close to me but keep in mind weather plays a big part so adding a little grace time is always beneficial. It is true you have too have a good cook you can use the same recipes but if your meat didn’t temp out right you can end up with tough leather for the judges to taste.

If allowed prep your meat the night before must competitions allow this only you can’t do in marinating until your meat as been reviewed. This will save a lot of time and will lower stress for the day this is a good thing. After all you here to have fun and maybe take a trophy and a purse home.

My competition tips are to be prepared for anything have game plan , time always lead yourself grace time  for problems that may arise, temp keep your pit running at a consistent temp and try to have fun.

award winning chicken

Award Winning Chicken

M&R: Tell us about the custom smoker you use for BBQ competitions. 

Tim: When cooking on the BBQ trail and catering I use a custom M&R BBQ smoker 120 with a warmer box. This smoker has the ability to produce a lot of food and the warmer box converts easily into a smoker in seconds. There is a saying in BBQ, “Too much smoke will make your meat bitter.” I never had this problem on my smoker.

The must important info I can give you is to  know the ends and outs of your smoker. I use a MR-Trailer 120 that has given me great results in competition and catering. It is important to run a consistent temp throughout your cook and the MR-Trailer 120 delivers. I can hold around 250 in the lower rack of my smoker and cook around 275 in the top rack. My smoker came with a optical warmer which converts easily into a smoker which cruises around 225 degrees. Their is a saying in BBQ to much smoke makes your meat bitter I have never had a issue with this I keep a true hot burning fire at all times.

One thing I look in a smoker is one that produce consistent temps and also one that can cook different meats at different temps at the same time The M&R BBQ delivers my top rack with cook around 25 degrees higher then the lower rack the warmer will cook steady at 225 degrees. 

M&R: What are the future plans for Grillin’ Gaines?

Tim: The future for Grillin’ Gaines is expanding our catering my enhancing our guest experience with warm friendly, service with a smile.

Thanks again to Tim Gaines for taking the time to share his knowledge. To view the latest BBQ smokers and grills from M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, click here

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