In Truck Stop, we meet the folks at the wheel of Seattle’s food trucks.
Matt Pontious and Tyler Rebman are lifelong chums. They grew up several doors down from each other in Rockford, Illinois and went to the same elementary school. Eventually Rebman would attend Chicago’s Kendall Culinary School, and Pontious the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology. Later they’d collaborate on a restaurant Rebman opened in the Windy City.
Both moved more here than a decade ago, and in August they rolled out their latest joint venture: Bigfood, a Caribbean-Indian kitchen riffing on the Northwest’s favorite anthropoid. “We started a food truck because we love the concept and it seemed like a great adventure.” Occasionally they lug in tow a massive (awesome) grill on which oysters or whole pigs are roasted; otherwise inspired flatbreads topped with braised meats and fresh slaw are the calling card.
Here, Pontious and Rebman pull over for a few questions.
What item must I try? The Yeti Beef—very unique flavors, and the dish we are most proud of.
If you could park anywhere in the city, where would it be? Inside any mall that would have us. Now that the weather has turned nobody wants to eat out in the rain.
Where do your recipes come from? The recipes we played with and tweaked over a year or so. Tyler had these ideas and we tested and tasted until we got them right. We are always evolving and trying to improve.
What would you still like to change about the new street food regulations? Allowing trucks to share or trade spots so long as each truck has at least one spot with the city.
Biggest four-wheeled misadventure? Probably the Chicken Wing Debacle of 2011. Tyler was working as a private chef for a vintage racecar team and we were invited to do a huge event at Pacific Raceways. This was our very first time running the truck. We were to serve wings and only wings at NHRA nationals. Upon speaking with them it was decided that we would need 7,000-ish wings for the three-day event. They didn’t want us to run out of food so we ordered 70 cases. To say concessions were slow that weekend is an understatement. Our generator overheated, we ran out of propane, and in the end we had more than 50 cases left over. We spent the following weeks cooking batches of wings to donate to St. James Cathedral to feed the homeless. Needless to say, not the best way to start off a new business.