Chef Matt Marcus is a CIA-trained chef with time put in at Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck in Britain and at Sonoma’s Cyrus. But the menu served on the truck he launched in the fall of 2010, with founders and friends Ryan Soroka and Alex Vassilakidis, includes dishes with names like "Pork Snuggies" (pork belly bao), "Sabotage" (a five-hour roasted pork sandwich), and "Frank the Pretzel" (a homemade chicken poblano sausage with sautéed onions and whole-grain chardonnay mustard on a pretzel bun). Marcus and crew may not take themselves too seriously, but Houston’s food lovers have, appreciating the Eatsie Boys enough to have made their café launch one of the most anticipated openings of the fall.
The great food, the personality, quality, and originality among other things, landed the Eatsie Boys a spot on The Daily Meal's 2012 list of 101 Best Food Trucks in America. In this interview, Ryan Soroka of the Eatsie Boys spills on their upcoming micro-brewery and food truck fail as the first ever horse-drawn food buggy.
What model truck do you have?
A 1991 Ford E-350 Short Bus. That's how we roll.
Does your truck have a vanity plate? If so, what does it say?
No vanity plate, but plenty of vanity. The City of Houston Mobile Food Unit Department actually told us to get off our high horse. They weren't too keen on our idea of being the first ever horse-drawn food buggy. Aaaaaaand back to reality. But for serious, we've contemplated getting 'Eboy2.5' as a vanity plate as this truck is technically our second-and-a-half iteration of Eatsie Boys mobile eatery. EBoys actually started out as a trailer (1.0). After nine months or so, we sold the trailer, bought a short school bus, and converted it to an ice cream truck selling Frozen Awesome — our handmade ice cream and gelato (2.0). After a few months, we installed a kitchen in it and converted it to make it the "Intergalactic Food Truck" that it is today, dishing out hot sandwiches and Frozen Awesome (2.5).
What was the inspiration for going into this business?
Although we come from different backgrounds, we're food and beverage guys at heart. At the time, we noticed that gourmet food trucks hadn't quite yet hit the streets of Houston like they had in other cities (New York City, LA, Austin), and we thought it was a great opportunity for us to do our thing while being at the forefront of a culinary revolution.
What's the story behind the origin of your truck's name?
"Now here's a little story I got to tell about three bad brothers you know so well." Beastie Boys, duh!
How did you come up with your truck's design? Is there a designer you'd like to give a shout-out to?
The Intergalactic Food Truck has an ice cream paint job that's cooler than a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce. Big shout out to our boy, the deliciously talented, Skeez (Skeez181.com).
What's your signature dish? Is it also the most popular one?
Our signature dishes include Pork Snuggies (crispy pork belly, homemade pickles, green onion, and hoisin in a fluffy steamed bao bun) and Sabotage (slow-roasted pork au jus, braised collard greens, provolone, on baguette). Our most popular dishes are Frank the Pretzel (homemade chicken poblano sausage, grilled onions, and whole-grain chardonnay mustard on a soft pretzel bun) and No Sleep Til Philly (sautéed rib-eye, grilled onions, and homemade cheese wiz on baguette). Our most popular ice creams: Shipley's Glazed & Confused Donut, In A World Gone Mad Whiskey+Cereal, Brass Monkey Caramelized Banana, and She's Crafty Salted Caramel+Bacon.
What's the inspiration for your cuisine and recipes?
Eboy flava flavologist chef Matt Marcus is a CIA-trained chef with time put in at Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant Fat Duck in Britain and at chef Douglas Keane's two-Michelin-starred restaurant Cyrus in Healdsburg, Calif. Enough fluffing. The EBoy menu is influenced by our lives, travels, and cravings, which manifest in our deliciously eclectic offering of gourmet sandwiches, international street food, and Frozen Awesome.
What's the most challenging thing about running your food truck?
The Intergalactic Food Truck has limited fire power and minimal storage capacity. Prepping off-site isn't very efficient. And then there are always the day-to-day mechanical and vehicle "surprises."
What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to get into the food truck business?
You can't knock the hustle.
Any new upcoming dishes planned that you can tell us about?
We are introducing a whole new menu at Eatsie Boys café, while offering (on a rotating basis) some of the classic menu items found on the truck. So basically, our new menu will consist of yum with a heaping side of delicious.
Any new plans on the horizon you can share?
In addition to the brick-and-mortar Eatsie Boys café, which is opening oh-so-soon, we are currently in the final stages of construction on 8th Wonder Brewery, our micro-brewery in East Downtown Houston. As previously mentioned, we're food and beverage peeps. As a matter of fact, our original idea was to open a brewpub (restaurant with a brewery in it). However, after discovering that Texas law prohibits brewpubs from distributing and selling beer off-premise, we decided to scrap the brewpub model and pursue two different (and legally separate!) business models: food truck and micro-brewery. Shazam! And that brings us to where we are today. Eatsie Boys + 8th Wonder Brewery.
Lots of things happen when running a restaurant — that probably goes double on the road. What's one particularly outstanding moment you can share?
Here's a link to a pretty cool article written about Eatsie Boys in Texas Monthly. It was written during Eboys' "ice cream-only days."
Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Follow Arthur on Twitter.