101 Best Food Truck Feature: Maximus/Minimus
Today on The Daily Meal
What started as a small catering truck has grown to a full-fledged steel pig on wheels. Maximus/Minimus serves a basic menu inspired from pulled pork. The sandwich can be ordered MAXImus style (spicy) or MiniMUS (sweet and tangy). They made number 43 on our 101 Best Food Trucks in America 2013 for their unique style and great food. We caught up with owner Kurt Beecher Dammeier to talk about the inspiration for the truck, plans for the future, and the food.
When did you launch your truck?
What was the inspiration for going into this business?
Honestly, we were just looking for a really good pulled pork sandwich that we could easily get from our office. We had a recipe we loved and there was an empty parking lot near our block. There weren’t a lot of food trucks in Seattle at the time, so we decided it would be a pretty fun adventure to try our hand at it. From there, it didn’t take much for me to want to turn the food truck into a giant "urban assault pigmobile."
What's the story behind the name?
I have three boys, the oldest of which is Max. We started calling him Maximus around the house, and I thought it would be a fun name for the truck (all of my food businesses are named for my boys and my family). I also love the juxtaposition of contrasting food flavors — in this case, spicy versus sweet. So we named our truck Maximus/Minimus — sort of the yin and yang of flavor profiles. Almost everything on the menu can be ordered Maximus (spicy) or Minimus (sweet).
What's the inspiration for your cuisine and recipes?
We have a test kitchen and our office is right at Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market. Access to the Market’s amazing ingredients and a lot of creativity in the kitchen is what inspired the cuisine and recipes for the truck.
What's your signature dish? Is it also your most popular dish?
Our pulled pork sandwiches are definitely our signature dish, and what most people order. It can be ordered with Maximus sauce or Minimus sauce, and it’s really a draw for which sauce people prefer.
If you haven't already, would you ever go brick-and-mortar? And if you have, is there anything you feel gets lost in the transition?
From the beginning, it was always in the back of my head that we’d go brick-and-mortar. We’ve bought a building that will house the Maximus/Minimus spin-off — Max’s. Max’s is a blown-up version of Maximus/Minimus. We’ll be serving all kinds of meat and seafood and everything will be prepared over fire. We hope to open in spring 2014.
How did you come up with your truck's design? Is there a designer you'd like to give a shout-out to?
We worked with a terrific designer — Colin Reedy — and it was great luck that we found him. Colin is that great combination between being an industrial designer and an artist. Right away, he grasped my vision for a metal pig truck that was cool, but not ridiculous. We gave him just a little over two months to transform the truck, and he definitely delivered.
Does your truck have a vanity license plate? And if so, what does it say?
What model truck do you have?
It's an Armenco food truck. Previously, the truck was slinging hot dogs in Anchorage.
What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to get into the food truck business?
Do your homework. In Seattle, there is only so much cooking and preparation you can do on the truck legally, so every food truck has a commissary to help with food prep and cooking. It also takes some time to determine where to park on a regular basis. Finally — cater whenever you can. The food truck business is not an inexpensive one, especially on rainy Seattle days where people don’t want to stand in line outside. So anything you can do to guarantee a crowd of eaters is good.
Any new upcoming dishes planned that you can tell us about?
Not at the moment. We occasionally put together specials for unique events, depending on what we’re doing.
Any new plans on the horizon you can share?
Max's is taking up all future planning — it’s going to be a big operation and we want to make sure it’s exactly right.
What's the most challenging thing about running your food truck?
Five years ago, I would have said that the biggest challenge was letting people know where to find you… but the popularity of Twitter, Facebook, and all of the other social media worlds have made that easy. So — in Seattle — one of the biggest challenges is parking. You cannot park anywhere at any time with food trucks in Washington, so figuring out where you’re parked day to day for service to the public can be challenging.
Lots of things happen when running a restaurant, and that probably goes double on the road. As such, be it weird, funny, good, or bad, what's one superlative or particularly outstanding moment or story that's ever occurred with your truck be it with customers, in the kitchen, or just in general?
We’ve had to fix our pig ears many times! We’ve been known to drive a route in our car to make sure there are no low-hanging branches. At 33 feet long and 14 feet high, it takes a little getting used to behind the wheel.
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