New Orleans is known for having exquisite food with an innovative flare that continues to evolve. Well, that evolution has led us to a whole new type of restaurant, if you will – food trucks. On this episode of GoNOLA Radio, our guests get the privilege of speaking with Barrie Schwartz, founder and director of My House – an organization supporting culinary entrepreneurs in New Orleans. You can hear the history of street food, where you can find the most delicious free food and music combinations at places like Vaughn’s on Thursdays with Kermit Ruffins and get the scoop on the ever growing New Orleans food truck scene, which offers a different kind of food for every type and taste.
Also featured on this episode is the brand new Rolling Through: A Mobile Series food truck festival that will run for eight weeks from May to June and then pick back up again in October to November. It’s the first community food truck festival series in New Orleans and from hearing the insider scoop from Ms. Schwartz, it sounds like it’s going to be an unprecedented hit!
Listen to hear more about the first event of the series that kicks off this week and more about the food trucks in New Orleans!
GoNOLA Radio is a free New Orleans podcast hosted by Sunpie Barnes, Lorin Gaudin, George Ingmire and Mikko about the food, music and culture of the Crescent City. Subscribe to GoNOLA Radio on iTunes or download to your mobile device on Stitcher. GoNOLA Radio features music by Cale Pellick.
Sanpa Barnes: Welcome to Go NOLA Radio. My name is Sanpa Barnes, and I will
be your host of hosts, as we explore New Orleans to learn about the city’s
rich cultural heritage, food, and music. We bring you experts, the real
deal experts, who will talk with you about the people who make New Orleans
such a wonderful place to live and visit. It’s Go NOLA Radio.
Miko: How cool is it that New Orleans is now a place that you can eat
fabulous food and not even have to go inside? Welcome everybody to Go
NOLA.com. I have George Ingmire, musicologist on my left.
Miko: And the food goddess, Lauren Goden, on the right.
Miko: And I’m Miko and our guest today is Barrie Schwartz, founder and
director of My House, an organization supporting culinary entrepreneurs in
New Orleans. Welcome, Barrie. Lauren, this should be your kick off because
we’re going to be talking about food.
Lauren: Yeah, but you’re the history guy.
Miko: I’m the history guy, so let me tell you the history of food.
Lauren: So we’ve got delicious history, go.
Miko: Delicious history. Street food in New Orleans, really being a
Caribbean port, is just like street food back in the old days that was very
present. People would have their little stands. I’m talking back in the
18th and 19th century. That’s always been on the street. This is before the
licenses and all that stuff. It’s kind of World War II when that stuff kind
of died out. Still to this day, there’s the Pie Lady that runs around in
the French Quarter. Pie Lady and this goes back hundreds of years where the
fruit sellers, would come in and just have those great calls, which I am
not going to attempt to do. But George could probably do those,
strawberries, I got them.
George: I got okra.
Lauren: Oh, the Okra Man.
Miko: Yeah, Okra Man. This is a tradition that goes way back. But today,
we’re talking about something specific. How do you feel about this whole
explosion, in terms of what it does for the city’s face?
Lauren: In my mind, Taco Loco is, they really are the ones that began the
process in earnest. In terms of we think of a food truck and I’m not
talking about those taco trucks, I’m talking about guys, that go and get
the proper all this that and the other thing, and they have the big fancy
trucks, and they’re doing this really cool upscale, but casual food
nonetheless, at a brilliant price point. And Alex and Mary Beth did Taco
Loco, and I remember very well that it was in like December 2008-2009 when
they hit the ground running, and I think it’s been sort of rolling I guess
I should say, instead of running, rolling over since. Yes?
Barrie: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s very interesting to see how that
bridges together, the old street food and the new, and I wasn’t here. I
came here two years ago, and I was at a second line parade and I was buying
BBQ food and I was like, “There’s something here. I want to start a
breakfast food truck.” I started going around and interviewing all types
of food trucks. I went to the Lower 9th Ward. There was a taco truck there
and started talking to them and I went to Alex and Mary Beth and started
talking to them and started talking to both the old and the newer food
trucks, and just seeing how that’s come to fruition in the last, really
Lauren: Well, it’s really taken a life of its own, right?
Barrie: It’s taken off. Yeah, I mean looking nationally at the gourmet
street food scene and how, what a phenomenon. I mean don’t know who could
have predicted that in New York City and San Francisco and Austin, they
have these lots.
Lauren: Austin is amazing. Portland, it’s crazy.
Barrie: Yeah, it’s like a new version of a courtyard.
Lauren: At this point, it’s easy to name them all. You’ve got everything
from Foodie Call, Taco Loco, Fat Falafel, Beignet Roule, La Cocinita. I
mean the litany.
Lauren: Frenchy’s is fabulous and NOLA Girl. The list is ever growing and I
think it’s really fabulous. Kind of scooped into the mix, you did the
second line; you were talking about the second line vendors. You have Linda
Green, right? Her Yaka mein doing her food from the back of her truck,
that’s just brilliant stuff right there, Kermit.
George: Did you know there was a study put out on www.ltv. Some scientist
in California says that Yaka mein really is a cure for hangovers.
Lauren: They call it different things in different cities.
George: They explained the elements of Yaka mein being like restoring
Lauren: The sodium, the beef, and the egg, right.
George: The sodium, and then the egg ha-right I mean can speak from
experience. I can tell you it’s a good way to recover from a hangover or
it’s a good way to fend off a hangover, if you’re drinking during the day.
Lauren: So Barrie we talk very specifically about Yaka mein and some of the
other and Po-Boys and things that are street foods that we consider here,
but then and the evolution and food trucks and all these new things that
are happening. But now there are events taking place. What are the events
you’ve got rolling?
Barrie: Yeah, exactly. So it’s New Orleans. We love food and events. I’m
really excited to announce this is going to be a biannual series titled
Rolling through a Mobile Series. It’s going to start this May and run for
eight weeks from May to June, and then to do it again in October and
November, a fall series. It’s the first community food truck series in New
Orleans. I’m really excited to be partnering with four unique neighborhoods
and non-profit partners. The first Tuesday in May and June, we’ll be having
eight food trucks at the Bayou Treme Center, which is a beautiful old
church on Bayou Road, and we’re also going to do a drive in movie which is
awesome called “Singing in the Rain.”
Lauren: Is that what they’re going to show, “Singing in the Rain?” I’ll be
there, my favorite.
Barrie: Really awesome, yeah. Then the second Tuesday of May and June we’ll
be in Central City, and we’ve been doing these events in the past, on
Aretha Castle Hayley working with Good Work Network and now we’re sort of
bringing this into the series. The third Tuesday of May and June will be
with the Broadmoor Improvement Association at the Rosa Keller Library and
Community Center, which if you haven’t been there, it’s really beautiful.
Lauren: It’s incredible.
Barrie: Yeah, and the last Tuesday we’ll kick it off or end it off I should
say, in the Bywater at Noca on their Press Street lots, which is really
cool. My House is really excited for these partnerships, and also to work
with different sponsors that are going to have Old New Orleans Rum, Samuel
Adams Beer and Yelp, will be there as well. I think it will be really cool
to sort of bring the greater New Orleans community to these different
neighborhoods, and sort of circle around throughout the city, and people
from those communities can have their own place to show what a cool
neighborhood, they have to the rest of New Orleans.
Lauren: And that food truck environment, which will then just keep growing
and going, and I think that’s really what’s spectacular about it, is that
now we’re having actual events built around this whole food truck scene. So
we really have taken it from its very roots and beginnings and evolved it
and brought it forward. The food, let’s just go there, it’s all delicious.
Barrie: It’s all delicious, and it’s all diverse and it’s really cool to
utilize this mobility to show community and create community, and have
anything from a BBQ sandwich, a Po-Boy, to an empanada, to a grilled cheese
sandwich, to a piece of pie. I mean really you can come with a family of 10
or 20, and all have a different type of food. How cool is that?
Lauren: It’s amazing. Didn’t you tell us earlier that there was a music
element to it? We’ll want to lead in, because I know that George has got to
say about pairing music and food.
Barrie: Yeah, absolutely.
George: You’ve got music that musicians are going to be playing at these
actual events, but it’s kind of been put in the place since the beginning,
that people want to eat while they’re listening to music in New Orleans.
Back in the day Donna’s had their Monday nights with the late Bob French,
and the BBQ chicken and the red beans and rice. Kermit Ruffin’s has been
holding it down for a while now with reds beans and rice, and bringing a
grill along with his trumpet to cook food. Occasionally, there’s a guy
Martin Krusch, with his band Magnetic Ear, who does curry and Dahl.
Lauren: I’ve got to tell you, I’ve made his curry dishes, because it was in
Offbeat, the recipe. Phenomenal.
George: Yeah, really, really good stuff. He’ll cook that for the audience
and put it out before the music starts. On Monday nights, almost every
Monday night over there at BJ’s in the Bywater, King James and the Special
Men, do red beans and rice. The lead singer does red beans. He calls the
base of the red beans sofrito. It’s kind of interesting.
Lauren: Oh, he uses sofrito in his red beans? Interesting.
George: That’s his approach.
Lauren: That’s a brilliant way. I love that. That’s delicious.
Barrie: Yeah, sounds good.
George: Yeah, it’s very good and this guy does some old time rock and roll.
It’s like how rock and roll sounded in the 50’s. Anybody who comes into
town needs to make it down to BJ’s to see the real local scene and expect
some booty shaking, and just some rocking good times, because these guys
play like old times-New Orleans rock and roll. They’re serving red beans
Barrie: For free.
George: On a Monday, of course, which is the traditional day, and it’s
really, really amazing. Something that just came on my radar recently is
there is all these music series throughout the year in New Orleans. It’s
almost the whole year, and there’s a fairly new one called Jazz in the
Park. It’s in Armstrong Park starting on April 18th and running through
June 13th. You can buy groceries there, fresh groceries. You can buy stuff
from the market and there are food stalls, with people like Miss Linda, who
I don’t know if she gets a day off these days, but serving Yaka Mein.
Lauren: She’s rocking it.
George: She’s rocking it and she’s rocking it for a good reason. So she’s
going to be serving New Orleans-style food. There’ll be a couple other
stalls out there, but that the musical list, Kermit Ruffins, Donald
Harrison Jr., Glen David Andrews, Soul Rebels, and Chen Powell, among many
others. You can click on a link at the Go NOLA site for Jazz in the Park to
find out more. This is an event taking part in Armstrong Park. So Louis
Armstrong’s Park, music, groceries, and a marketplace, so it’s just how we
do it. We can’t really just do one thing. It’s always together. You know
while we’re eating we’re talking about the next place we’re eating. While
we’re listening to music, we’re talking about the next band we’re going to
Lauren: And all of it is steeped in history and culture. That’s the whole
thing. I mean don’t you think Miko it’s such a big deal?
Miko: It’s the carnal nature of New Orleans. As our good friend Becky Allen
says, whatever’s worth doing is worth over doing.
Lauren: She’s the queen of that. That’s fantastic.
Miko: She’s the queen of that. She’s the only female-female impersonator.
Barrie, this Rolling Through, which has success written all over it; I
remember when I was a kid when the bookmobile came into my neighborhood;
imagine now that the Tacos Locos is coming into my neighborhood, although,
you’re not. How do we make like requests for neighborhoods? I live in
Algiers Point, which is screaming for something like that. This thing could
really blow up for you. Is there like a long-term vision that you have?
Barrie: Yeah, absolutely. I’m really excited to create a series that’s bi-
annual. When I first started, it was almost the demand got me before I
could even get it. People were just asking me to do it in their
neighborhood, before I even knew where it was going. And at this point I
want to establish this series, but also anyone can contact me, to work with
me to do a festival. I want to collaborate with anyone who wants to
collaborate with me. You can go myhousenola.com and send me an email. I
mean Algiers Point would be fantastic.
Miko: How has the reception been on the vendor side to what you’ve been
Barrie: It’s been really, really interesting, because I started
interviewing them a year ago, with the hopes of starting a breakfast food
truck. And I was annoying and persistent and went outside every bar and
would go on their truck and take notes. They got a kick out of me and
thought I would go away, and then I was working with Good Work Network back
in July and we wanted to look at that lot and start a hub there.
They were like you know a lot about this. You’ve been doing a lot of
research. At that point, I had realized that my strengths were not in
starting a food truck, and all of the food trucks knew what I was trying to
do. We had this first event with Stacy Head’s office and there were over
1,000 people that came, and I had never done anything like that before, and
it was beautiful. The trucks were like, “This is fantastic.” Because a lot
of them have partnerships with bars, but they really don’t come together
all that often.
Lauren: It really is. It’s fun.
Barrie: It’s so fun and everyone loves it and the trucks really love it.
They all get to come and congregate and talk to each other about what works
for them, what doesn’t.
Barrie: It really is empowering for them. I’ve had really, really great
reception from the trucks, and it’s gotten to the point, where I need to
find a fair way to rotate them.
Lauren: What’s amazing too and when they get together, sometimes they’ll
get to eat from other trucks. In fact, I was on the phone talking to one
truck owner, and he was waxing poetic about food from another truck, and I
thought “Now that’s community. That’s really cool and I love that.” So they
get to try each other’s food from the food trucks and then spread the good
word and then these events. That’s just fantastic, the way that’s evolved.
Barrie: Yeah, it’s cool and yeah, they are always trading. That’s their
thing. They just trade food with each other all the time and it’s been
really cool getting into this. A lot of people in New Orleans go to
caterers and food trucks is a really interesting thing to have catered,
because a lot of these venues in New Orleans don’t have a built in kitchen,
and they don’t know what to do when someone is renting out their venue. So
for example New Orleans Rum, amazing distillery, but they don’t have a food
option, so people have started requesting catering through that, which is
Lauren: If I remember correctly, you said something about every Wednesday,
the last Wednesday of the month. What is that about?
Barrie: Yeah, so there are a few other things I have that are ongoing. The
first is every last Wednesday of the month I’m doing a pop up with the Fat
Falafel Food Truck at Casa Borrega which is at 1719 Oretha Castle Haley. It
hasn’t opened up officially yet, but it is very beautiful and I can’t wait
till it’s a restaurant.
Lauren: There are so many neat things on Oretha Castle Haley that are very
beautiful and hidden gem. Fat Falafel does Tuesdays and Fridays in front of
Lauren: That which we’ve enjoyed. Yes Miko?
Miko: Yes. Lauren bought me lunch there one day.
Lauren: By the way it was fabulous. Okay, at Case Borrega, last Wednesday
of the month?
Barrie: Yeah, The Fat Falafel actually came to me. They were like “We love
our truck but it’s called The Fat Falafel and we’re going to be selling
falafel for a long time.” And they sort of have all these menu ideas. I was
like “How about we create a series, where you guys can play with different
Lauren: But I love the whole food truck scene. It’s so fantastic. If people
want to know more information about where to find the food trucks, what
these great events are, of course please come to gonola.com. We will have
everything from this particular podcast there, and in addition, where can
they find for you, to find you directly?
Lauren: myhousenola.com. It’s time for us to roll, too.
Lauren: Thanks, guys. I want to thank you very much Barrie for joining us
today. It was fantastic. I will see you at the new food truck roundup.
Sanpa: Go NOLA Radio is a production of New Orleans Tourism and Marketing
Corporation, in conjunction with FSC Interactive, music by Kale Pellet. My
name is Sanpa. Tune in next week by subscribing to Go Nola Radio on iTunes