Perhaps the earliest memory that most of us have of a food truck comes in the form of racing to catch up to the bubbly jingles ringing throughout neighborhood streets as the ice cream truck came through each summer. That tradition carries forward in the form of today’s modern food trucks. Here in Cenla, we boast dozens of different options, serving up everything from frozen delights to chef crafted specialties. Here are a few of the innovative culinary entrepreneurs offering some of the best of Cenla’s Food on the Move.
Gerard Abair opened the Creole Cockpit in 2018, offering authentic New Orleans gourmet lunches. “I have been cooking in the military for 15 years—two in the U.S. Navy, and 13 in the U.S. Army National Guard, where I have two deployments and currently serve as Food Service Advisor,” says Gerard. “Culinary Arts is my passion.” Having earned an Associate’s degree in Restaurant and Catering Management in 2015 from the Art Institute of San Antonio, Gerard has worked in the restaurant industry in civilian life for over a decade. His passion was honed at La Centera Resort and Spa in San Antonio and later in some of the finest kitchens in New Orleans, including the Ritz Carlton New Orleans and various Marriott’s entities.
Gerard found inspiration for his food truck in an unusual place. “I watched the movie ‘Chef’ on Netflix and that’s where my passion for getting a food truck started,” he explains. Newly inspired, he poured his wealth of culinary experience into his new venture. “We want to give Cenla something different,” he says. “The same dishes we all love, but with a Culinary Arts twist that maybe people haven’t experienced before.” That menu includes New Orleans staples like jambalaya, fried fish and bread pudding with signature dishes like Crawfish Monica and Southern classics like Chicken and Waffles.
Like his menu, The Creole Cockpit truck itself reflects its owner. With logo and creative elements by “Yaz Designz” brought to life by “Cenla Signs”, the truck boasts two very personal touches. Gerard explains, “The truck is just the way I want it. It includes my favorite Bible verse, Proverbs 3:5-6, and a memorial to my childhood friend, Kenny Donnelly Jr., who is a fallen soldier that will never be forgotten.”
The Creole Cockpit is open for lunch and available for special event catering. Find out where they’ll be by following “The Creole Cockpit” on Facebook and Instagram, e-mailing email@example.com, or by calling (318) 880-2354.
Eric Herrington, Jr. opened the Gourmet Grilled Cheese & More on December 18, 2019. As the name suggests, the truck boasts a wide variety of options based on the classic comfort food. Cooking has been a life-long passion for Herrington, who dreamt of owning his own restaurant. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” says Eric. “I never could really make my dream a reality because brick and mortar restaurants are so expensive to start.” Undaunted, he quickly pivoted his strategy. “My next option to fulfill my dream was a food trailer,” he explains. “I started out by purchasing a trailer and fabricated the food truck.” He is quick to share credit with those close to him who have helped make his dream a reality. “Without my friends and family, this wouldn’t have been possible.” And as with any dream, it has taken a lot of hard work to attain success. “I get to fulfill my dream; but I still have to work a full-time job,” explains Eric. “It’s a lot of work; but my passion keeps me going. Getting to cook food and serve to others is very rewarding.”
Gourmet Grilled Cheese & More features several signature sandwiches, along with fries, mozzarella sticks, soup and more. Some of the most popular sandwiches include options like the “Triple B”, a delicious combination of brie cheese, bacon and blackberry preserves served on sourdough bread. If you’re feeling in the holiday spirit, no matter what time of year, try the “Gobble Gobble”, featuring brie cheese, turkey and cranberry sauce. Diners can spice things up with the “Bacon Jalapeno Popper”, featuring pepper jack cheese, bacon and jalapenos. There are also options for more classic grilled cheese tastes, or the option to create your own grilled cheese from a list of various cheeses, fresh veggies, meats and bread varieties.
Gourmet Grilled Cheese & More can be found on weekends, holidays, at festivals, and statewide events year round. Keep up with their next appearance by following them on Facebook! For catering or special event information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (318) 542-2988.
Following in the footsteps of the earliest automotive culinary pioneers, the ice cream trucks, Edward and Maryetta Celestine started Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices in July of 2019. After leaving their previous jobs, the couple knew they had to think outside the box. “We knew we needed to trust in God’s plan for our lives,” explains Maryetta. Having survived for over eighteen months with only one income, the couple decided to start a family oriented business that could grow into an inheritance for their children. No one in the area was selling Little Jimmy’s Italian Ice, so the couple decided to bring the unique franchise and product to the community.
Italian ice is a frozen dessert that is perfect for cooling down on a hot day. Unlike shaved ice or snow balls, where the syrup is poured over the top of plain ice which then settles to the bottom, Italian ice is premixed and doesn’t separate. Served in scoops like ice cream, it has no fat or cholesterol and is only 15 calories per ounce. Flavors include favorites like lemon, green apple, watermelon, blueberry, strawberry, chocolate, rainbow and more! Patrons can then choose to add a variety of toppings to their scoops or enjoy it as served in its purest form. “We are excited for the opportunity to partner with local non-profit businesses, churches, and the community to meet the need of others,” says Maryetta. In the near future, Maryetta and Edward seek to bring additional jobs to the community and new items to the menu!
Little Jimmy’s is open on the weekends and for special events and, starting in April 2020, will be open daily. Follow Little Jimmy’s on Facebook @LJAlexandria, on Twitter and Instagram for locations, dates and times.
Ryan and April Werner opened Tank’s Tacos & More in 2017. Both paramedics by trade, in addition to sharing a passion for helping people, the couple also shares a love of cooking. “In jobs as paramedics, my wife and I would cook for our coworkers at holidays and special events,” says Ryan. “We were dabbling with street taco recipes and came up with a recipe for al pastor. Once we tasted it, it was so spot-on that we knew we had to go into business!” And so, their food truck was born. The business is named after the couple’s two-year-old English Bulldog, Tank, whose irresistible face adorns the sides of the bright red truck. “Tank is our mascot,” laughs Ryan.
Tank’s Tacos is known for their delicious street tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and more. The menu combines traditional Mexican style cuisine with a Louisiana-inspired Cajun flair. Customers can choose from a selection of mouth-watering options including al Pastor, Pollo Asado, Chorizo, and on special occasions, smoked brisket and more which are served on corn tortillas and topped with your choice of cheese, homemade pico de gallo and a selection of delicious hand crafted sauces! “The sauce is what really sets it off,” explains Ryan. Each of the sauces is carefully homemade. The most popular are the chipotle southwest sauce, which is available in varying degrees of heat, and the ever popular avocado sauce.
One of Tank’s signature dishes is the Cajun-inspired Jambalaya Burrito. It features the couple’s special recipe jambalaya in the place of rice and your choice of toppings. By far the most imposing item on the menu is the “Bulldog Bomb”. This 2 1/2 pound behemoth of a burrito is served on two 12-inch tortillas topped with everything on the truck, including beans, jambalaya, all the meats, all the cheeses and all the sauces. “We sell a lot of them!” boasts Ryan.
Tank’s Tacos is open from 11:00am to 2:00pm four or five days a week for lunch and is also available for catering and special events. Follow Tank’s on Facebook @tankstacosandmore for specific dates and locations. For catering and special events, reach out via Facebook Messenger or call (318) 663-0964.
In the process of bring delicious food to the people, food trucks are faced with a few unique challenges. When it comes to operating, food trucks traditionally park roadside or in a parking lot, which can present logistical challenges. Likewise, weather plays a huge role in whether they are able to operate. They have to absorb the costs of fuel for their trucks and generators, time it takes to travel to places and maintenance on their vehicles. Local entrepreneurs Taylor Cottano and Tyler Craig have developed a solution. Both men have a passion for creating opportunity and helping their community grow. One day while driving down Main Street in Pineville, Taylor saw an empty lot and knew it had potential to become something great. Taylor and his wife, Meggie, love to travel and would seek out food trucks when traveling. Sometimes they would be found in food truck parks and they loved the environment. “I love the live music that often accompanied these spaces and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten has come from a food truck,” says Taylor. Likewise, as California natives, Tyler and his wife, Drew, were well acquainted with food truck culture. Their combined vision was to create a revolutionary venue where citizens of Rapides Parish and all surrounding areas could enjoy great food from all the local food truck vendors in a comfortable safe environment.
Main Street Truck Park was built to alleviate some of the challenges, making business easier for the food truck owners and access easier for the customers. Main Street Truck Park is being developed in downtown Pineville on Main Street. The Park will contain rental slots for food trucks of all shapes and sizes where they will have access to electricity, running water and WiFi. To help with compliance, the park will also boast the first true Commissary in Central Louisiana, built out specifically for Food Trucks. For customers, the park will be a well-lit venue with asphalt pad for citizens to travel from one food truck to the next. The park will also contain indoor (heated and cooled) seating and outdoor seating located in a gated area free from traffic, making it safe for adults and children. Customers will enjoy a large grass area, live music, games, and events happening throughout the year as well as a local farmers market with plans for a community garden in the future. Indoor restrooms are provided as well as a changing station for parents with little ones.
“We see Main Street Truck Park as a hub for building our community,” say Tyler and Taylor. “Food has always brought families together on holidays and now we aim to bring the community together at our park to enjoy great food, listen to good music and all around enjoy good vibes!”