New Durham food truck serves gluten-free Vietnamese food

Jan. 20, 2014 @ 12:14 AM

It was while he was volunteering in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in Mississippi that Andrew Gaddis said he realized cooking is something he’s good at and enjoys, and is what he wants to do for the rest of his life.

Gaddis said he went on a series of trips with his grandparents’ church to Mississippi, and started cooking for others early on. He started by helping serve food from a kitchen on a flatbed trailer and ultimately was employed as a manager and as a cook at a Presbyterian Disaster Assistance camp for volunteers.

“I pretty much dove into it blindly,” Gaddis said of cooking at the camp, explaining that he didn’t have experience cooking in that kind of volume. But he found recipes, was able to prepare for the volume, and enjoyed the work.

“It’s kind of a common denominator,” Gaddis said of food. “Especially in a situation like that, the first time I went down there, and you see people from all walks of life. They’re all there to eat.”

On Friday, Gaddis launched a new food truck from the parking lot of the craft beer shop Sam’s Quik Shop on Erwin Road. The new truck called, Bang Bang Banh Mi, serves gluten-free Vietnamese food.

A menu he sent by email included wings in caramel fish sauce, a Vietnamese sandwich made with a gluten-free baguette and pâté, pickled vegetables, sliced chilies, cucumber, mayonnaise and herbs, and a bowl of rice noodles topped with lettuce, cucumber, pickled vegetables, cucumber, herbs and peanuts.

He said he got his formal training as a chef at the Art Institute of Charlotte, and accumulated experience working in restaurants. He said he started working in fast food in Colorado when he was 15, and moved on to other restaurants and positions.

In Durham, he was a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham, but launched the truck after he said a downturn in enrollment impacted his hours at the institute. He said he spent several months looking for a job, and ultimately decided to launch his own business.

He decided to launch a food truck serving gluten-free food because he’s allergic to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. The allergy didn’t hinder his ability to cook foods with gluten, but he became frustrated  he couldn’t taste the finished product without getting sick. He said he found that Vietnamese food was friendly to his “narrowing diet.”

“I wanted to make a truck that only serves gluten free food to eliminate the risk and worry,” he said in an email. “Not only will the food be gluten free, but there will also be vegetarian and vegan options every day.”