Durham County

Durham Food Truck Rodeo reels in hungry enthusiasts

Rebecca Holliman of American Meltdown greets customers Sunday during the Durham Central Park Food Truck Rodeo.
Rebecca Holliman of American Meltdown greets customers Sunday during the Durham Central Park Food Truck Rodeo.

Smells of spicy smoked pork, fried food and ethnic cuisines wafted through the crisp air Sunday, as more than 50 food trucks lined Foster and Hunt streets at Durham Central Park.

Waiting outside of Raleigh-based Virgil’s Jamaica food truck for the seasonal Food Truck Rodeo was Davone Suitte, who worked at a similar event in Raleigh last year.

“I had the day off, so me and my son are getting out,” Suitte said. “I try to stay away from fast food, so anytime there’s something like this you’ll probably always see my face.”

The draw, his 8-year-old son Isaiah said, was the food.

And to eat --” spicy chicken and cookies,” Isaiah said.

Drowning out any sounds of humming generators from the trucks were Miami-based band Electric Kif, New York City-based jazz Alison Shearer group and the Raleigh Rockers.

Enjoying the saxaphone music of Shearer from their lawn chairs was the Williams family -- Cathy, Blake and Jeff Williams.

“We always come,” Jeff Williams said.

Cathy Williams said Sunday’s early morning snow, and cold temperatures only warming to the mid 40s, didn’t “slow them down,” from attending.

“Pie Pushers has a location now downtown, and we’ve gotten some of their food that we were introduced to here,” Williams said.

American Meltdown was their choice for the current Food Truck Rodeo.

Unlike other canines with their tongues out, Maikoh casually waited under the table by his owner Kathi Lucas.

The Food Truck Rodeo is something Lucas has attended in the past.

“You can go to one location and try lots of different types of food,” Lucas said, as she sipped on a drink from Fullsteam Brewery and savored a potato from the Gourmet Stuffed Potatoes food truck.

Vendors too, said they think it’s a benefit.

“It’s great community building -- just getting to know other trucks, and then meeting people,” said Anna Eaves, manager of Hillsborough-based Lost Boys food truck.

The truck has been rolling to events and locations for the past couple of years of its operation near Carrboro, Durham and Raleigh serving up a global fusion of international food -- focused on Latin America but also from parts of Asia and India.

The best sellers are spicy pork and coconut tacos, patacones and chicken tikka masala.

“I really enjoy the food aspect of it -- more than I enjoy the business side of it,” said Lee Pollard, who is one of the truck’s chefs and Eaves’ brother.

The business originated from a catering company, Pollard said.

A few trucks down, executive chef Harry Monds, owner of Bull City Street Food, had a similar story of entering the food truck scene.

Prior to Durham’s downtown revitalization, Monds was located in a brick and mortar restaurant known as Timetable during the mid 1990s, where Bull McCabes is now, for about seven years.

He then started a catering business, which led to the food truck a few years ago.

“We really should have done this a lot sooner,” Monds said. “I think the food trucks here in Durham are reflective of the quality we’re getting at the restaurant scene anyways. This is very much an extension of that.”

Differing from rucks with a set menu, Monds said Bull City Street Food’s menu changes with a new theme each week.

“One week we might be doing French dishes,” he said. “Next week with it being St. Patrick’s Day, we’re going to be doing an Irish theme.”

A signature menu staple, however, is the grilled pimento cheese and fried green tomato sandwich, he said.

Those who missed trying the sandwich at Sunday’s rodeo can follow the truck on social media to find its location.

To save the date for the next food truck rodeo, go to http://durhamcentralpark.org/events/food-truck-rodeo-info/.