Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon
Former Ritz Carlton Exec Chef Goes Food Trucking!
Note: This article was written over two years ago during the height of the food truck craze. Joe Youkhan and his team are now thriving with their food truck business and catering. He recently won on Chopped on the Food Network
I was driving back from another food truck lot and noticed a new bightly colored truck there called “Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon”. I actually pulled over, just to check it out.The truck was very fancy, with a colorful mural painted on the truck. The truck also featured a very large window on the side, so you can see the Chef making your food.
I looked through its large window and saw a very clean and modern kitchen, something you would see at a white linen restaurant. The truck is owned by Joe Youkhan , former Executive Chef at the Ritz Carlton and Chat Noir, who decided to start his own catering and food truck business.
Chef Youkhan describes his menu as “Rustic Italian Street Food”, which features a gourmet twist on traditional food truck fare. Some of his gourmet food truck items include grilled artisan pizzas, pinwheel pizzas, mac and cheese bites and pulled pork sliders.
This truck also carries some fine dining recipes that have been adapted for food truck dining, like Arancini and candied ginger creme brulee. All his dishes are made with advanced cooking techniques and high-end ingredients. For example, the Mac N Cheese Nuggets are made with a three-cheese bechamel sauce and hand coated in bread crumbs, definitely an adult foodie twist to an old food truck favorite. The daily specials were equally
impressive, which included a “Tuscan Garlic Smash Burger”, crispy calamari and a pork belly sliders. I asked the Sous Chef what is the one item that I had to try, he told me the Veggie Fonduta Personal Pizza. He explained that the sauce on this pizza is made with love by taking farm fresh produce, which is slow roasted and then simmered together to make an extremely fresh and vibrant sauce. Based on this information, I had to try the dish.
I watched through the trucks giant picture window to see the chef actually preparing the pizza , “Made to order”. This scratch preparations even included stretching out the dough, assembling the pizza and cooking to order in the truck’s own pizza oven. It was pretty impressive to watch a Master Chef in action. When the pizza came out, I first noticed that this pizza was of substantial size, about 1 foot long. I knew this dish was going to be filling, at $8 this was a deal.
The crust on the pizza reminded me of a flatbread, with slightly crunchy edges. The crust at the center of the pizza was crisp on the bottom and slightly guey up top. The sauce was a “Fonduta” of farm fresh vegetables which retain bite sized chunks of whole vegetables including eggplant, zucchini, tomato, mushrooms and onions.
These chunks both forming the sauce and toppings. This pizza was topped with a mozzarella, whole fresh basil leaves and a dry seasoning. When I bit into the pizza, I first tasted the slightly chewy and crunchy crust and then the acidity and savory of the vegetables.
When I chewed more, the flavors of the cheese integrated. The Cheese’s base ph and sweet/savory protien flavors tied the carbs and acidic ingredients together. Finally, the sweet/pungent flavor of the basil tied a nice bow on the top of this well-balanced dish.
My Final thoughts
By following my nose and bright shiny objects, his truck, I discovered this great new food truck. Although I only had the opportunity to try one of his dishes, I am excited to come back and try more . I am giving this truck a 4 out of 5 due to his perfect execution of the pizza, the upscale food truck menu and his open window food truck design. This Food Truck is just getting started; but in my opinion one of the best. I predict he will soon be challenging some of the more established trucks. Good Luck Joe! <–(Janury 2014) My prediction was correct
Website for “Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon”, including his food truck schedule http://chefjoeyoukhanstastingspoon.com/
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