The first thing you notice about The Farmhouse Food Truck may not be the graphics, beautiful though they are.
Truck owner Larry Cook (yes, that's his real name) may be the real standout. He looks more like a surfer dude than a serious chef, but he's a trained culinarian with an eye towards one thing: simple food made with as many local ingredients as he can get. His truck is new, but his experience in food service goes back many years.
Cook spent his early working career in real estate, until the market went bust. He decided to get out and re-evaluate his life. "I asked my friends to tell me, and be honest about it, what they thought I did well," he said late one afternoon as he loaded the truck for his first event, Wellington's Food Truck Invasion on Thursday. They all said, "Well, you get around the kitchen really well." So Cook went to Lincoln Culinary Institute and got his degree. He spent years working in restaurants, country clubs and catering, and found his niche in doing small dinner gatherings. "I really enjoy doing parties of eight to ten people, and I do the whole thing, from set-up to shopping to cooking to cleanup. I love the personal interaction and getting it right from start to finish."
From restaurants and catering to a food truck isn't a big intellectual leap, but it can be a big financial leap, Cook admits. "You budget a certain amount, but in reality, you have to pad that with extra, because there's no telling what issues will come up. I've learned to fix things and work with the equipment I have, instead of buying more or newer things. I look at everything that crops up as a challenge rather than a crisis."
The Farmhouse menu is a simple one, with just a few favorites Cook knows will do well: an all-beef kosher hot dog, a vegetarian wrap, Angus beef sliders, grilled Vermont Cheddar cheese, handcut truffle fries and their signature sandwich, the Midnight Grinder: rotisserie chicken or the Angus beef, topped with a cheese sauce made with ale from Tequesta Brewing Company.
The truck's color scheme may stop traffic, but there's nothing hesitant about Larry Cook's philosophy. He's got the cooking experience, yet there's an "all-in" drive about the man that lets you know he's serious about having fun and makes sure you enjoy his food as much as he does. He's a newcomer to a field that always needs more and better. "I'm in a service business," he said. "I like to make people light up. It's where my passion comes from."
If you're going to Wellington on Thursday, or Abacoa's Food Truck Invasion on Friday, just look for the stoplight-green truck with the happy chef inside.