Chirba Chirba among Southern food trucks in new cookbook
As the popularity of food trucks rises like a biscuit, so too does the appetite to experience them off the road. “The Southern Food Truck Cookbook: Discover the South’s Best Food on Four Wheels,” (Nelson Books, $24.99) by Washington state-based food writer Heather Donahoe, takes readers and home cooks on a tour of the South’s best restaurants on wheels. Chirba Chirba, the Chinese dumplings food truck founded by UNC Chapel Hill students and now a sought after truck around the Triangle, is featured in the new cookbook.
Nate Adams is one of the four UNC graduates who started Chirba Chirba along with Chela Tu, Yin Song and Ali Safavi. Chirba Chirba means “eat eat” in Mandarin Chinese. Adams said that he and Tu bought out partners Song and Safavi, who left to focus on biomedical engineering, a few months ago. Adams does truck operations while Tu manages event planning and marketing. Chirba Chirba is a busy truck. On Friday, it was at Measurement Inc. for lunch and at Fullsteam Brewery at dinnertime, both in Durham. The yellow truck is gathering noshers in Raleigh, too, as they are making more visits to Raleigh office parks, and will participate in the Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo on Sunday afternoon on Fayetteville Street.
Chirba Chirba announces its location plans via Twitter, Facebook and its website. On Twitter, it has nearly 6,800 followers.
“We try to make it as easy as possible for people to find us,” Adams said.
Now food truck foodies outside the Triangle will know about Chirba Chirba through “The Southern Food Truck Cookbook,” which features other Triangle trucks, too. Triangle Raw Foods is featured and includes its recipe for TRF Pad Thai, a dish that includes zucchini and Thai chiles. Triangle Raw Foods also shared its TRF Chocolate Tarts recipe, with ingredients including raw nuts and raw cacao powder.
Also featured is Porchetta, the truck started by Nicholas Crosson and Matthew Hayden of 18 Seaboard in Raleigh. As Donahoe describes in “The Southern Food Truck Cookbook,” Porchetta’s foundation is pork, specifically a pork roast wrapped in pork belly and filled with herbs and spices. The recipe in the cookbook is for Basil Pork Sausage, and requires a meat grinder and sausage stuffing tube. To accompany the sausage, there’s a recipe for Basil Pesto.
The cookbook’s trucks include a variety of kinds of food as well as creative truck names. Trucks and recipes include those from Kentucky’s Lil Cheezers, Virginia’s Dressed and Pressed, South Carolina’s Cast Iron Grill, Georgia’s Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen, Alabama’s Fresh Off the Bun, Louisiana’s Bon Repas, Arkansas’ The Southern Gourmesian and Tennessee’s Wrapper’s Delight, among many others.
Chirba Chirba’s recipe in the cookbook is for Chirba Chive Dumplings, which the food truck crew often makes when they’re hired for dumpling-making parties. More than parking and serving food, Chirba Chirba can be hired for weddings or home events.
“If you think about what a food truck can do, it’s basically a certified mobile kitchen. It makes it really easy to get top-quality food,” Adams said.
The recipe for Chirba Chive Dumplings looks like a lot of work because it is. There are a lot of little things you have to get right, he said, and watching a how-to video can help. They didn’t mind giving the recipe away.
“We’re here to make sure people get the best dumplings in the South,” Adams said.
They’ll think about adding another truck, but Adams said that when running a small business, you’re careful about expanding too soon. Their commissary in Durham is in The Cookery on West Chapel Hill Street, along with four other food trucks.
“It’s a cool dynamic right now,” he said. “There’s a lot of collaboration between food trucks.”
As the market fills, things will get more competitive, Adams said, but as new food truck territory opens up, it’s better if they work together. If there’s a new parking lot available, he said, it’s better if multiple trucks show up, which results in more people showing up.
“The Southern Food Truck Cookbook” isn’t the first food truck cookbook to feature a Durham food truck. Only Burger was in “The Truck Food Cookbook” by John T. Edge, published in 2012.
Adams said that people have told them they came to Durham for Chirba Chirba and found another Durham restaurant or bar to check out.
“I kind of see us almost as food ambassadors,” he said. “I think more and more in the U.S., people plan a trip and where they’ll eat.”