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$2,791 pledged of $15,000 goal
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By Chef Jen
$2,791 pledged of $15,000 goal
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About

A Crappy Little Dream

  The Origin

Mobile kitchens have existed for generations, but the invention of the Chuckwagon was in 1866 and is credited to Charles Goodnight, a Texas rancher. Chuck modified a durable army-surplus wagon to suit the needs of cowboys driving cattle from Texas to sell in New Mexico. He added a "Chuck box" to the back of the wagon with drawers and shelves for storage and a hinged lid as a flat cooking surface. He attached a water barrel to the back and canvas underneath to carry firewood. Although food trucks have evolved tremendously over the years, their pure embodiment of the Crappy Little Kitchen hasn't changed. I want to embrace that purity; to not only enhance my ability to cook gourmet meals despite great odds, but to take it on the road. Help me build my Crappy Little Chuckwagon!

A Texas original
A Texas original

  The Cook Book

Chefs are notoriously disorganized. Our brains contain intricate maps detailing our journey from A to B including inventory, orders, calendars, and most definitely recipes. Some of these maps are more…”complete” then others, but all chefs have them, and I’m no different. BUT nothing bothers me more than having to “babysit the ding-a-lings” (apprentices). Rather than tell them over and over again what I needed them to do with a recipe, I immediately began standardizing recipes. After 8 fruitful years as a sous chef, pastry chef, culinary professor, and finally executive chef, I had a massive collection of quality, restaurant tested recipes, and thought, “I wonder if someone would buy this?” Sure, enough. Someone did! 

The fruit of my labor.
The fruit of my labor.

  The Project

What started as a necessary work project became my personal labor of love. Now I need help with the next step. A mobile Crappy Little Kitchen so we can take our side show on the road! I’ll purchase a truck or a trailer (whatever I find with the most personality), “slap a sink, a stove, and refrigerator against one wall” (for CLK historical accuracy), and christen thee The Crappy Little Chuckwagon. 

Building a mobile food truck is no short order task, however I’m up for the challenges. For 2 years I've been researching the type of truck/trailer options, what licenses are needed for selling, typical budgets for mobile food operations, and even what types of gimmicks drive sales. Luckily, we have built in shtick that is amazing. Research leads to the conclusion that simpler menus go further, which means fewer types of raw materials for us to lug around. 

  The Food

Food truly is a universal language that can build bridges between people of estranged cultures and create common ground where there wasn't any before. I cook daily; for myself and loved ones as it’s a more honest expression of my feelings than words could ever be. I want the "Crappy Little Chuck Wagon" to be an extension of me; a Texas girl raised on a pecan orchard. A future chef who had the opportunity to raise cattle and pigs growing up and have a very strong relationship with food and where it comes from. My menu communicates my humor, love of my family and friends, and my love of food.

When people walk up to the window, we will ask, “Cow, pig or flatbread ” Depending on what they say, we'll either plate up thick sliced Texas brisket in a smokey homemade BBQ sauce, spicy pork burger with pickled pineapple on a kolache bun, or grilled Texas flat bread stuffed with grilled mushrooms and Chipotle tzatziki (recipes created for the next book). Then we ask, “Tater or slaw?” The deliciousness served will then either be an herb potato salad or roasted poblano slaw (both recipes in the current book). 

My Smoker!
My Smoker!

This setup does several things: 

  • One of the entrees (the brisket) can be prepared earlier in the day on my smoker and held hot for easy service and continuously more tender meat. 
  • The burgers can be waiting on the grill and ready to plate within 5 minutes and the marinated Portobello sliders grill in less than 5. 
  • Both of the sides are prepared ahead of time and held cold for immediate plating. This means inside the truck we have 1 hot holding station, 1 grill, and 1 cold holding station (2 items). The rest is refrigeration, back up stove, and beverage coolers. 
  • The menu has a built in variety of options from fatty, to vegetarian, to starchy, to light & fresh, yet each element can be mixed and matched freely to enhance the integrity and flavor of each other. 

If you'd like to follow my journey as I build my food truck, please check out my Crappy Little Chuck Wagon blog or like us on Facebook!

Grilled Texas Flatbread
Grilled Texas Flatbread

  The Future 

Once rubber hits the road, the Crappy Little Chuckwagon Blog will follow our journey rot with culinary peril culminating in the next cookbook edition titled “The Traveling Crappy Little Kitchen”. Due to the expense of temporary food licenses, our base of operation will remain Austin, and adventures will be planned around a variety of events including charity fund raisers, cooking competitions, cultural festivities, and visiting the ever growing group of CLK friends. Some events Team CLK already participates regularly include the North Texas Scottish Festival, Bits and Bites fund raiser for El Centro school of culinary arts, various communities’ “Taste of” gatherings, chili and BBQ competitions, just to name a few. Once our Crappy Kitchen Chuckwagon is built, we'll be rolling up in style to cook ANYWHERE, each time proving the superiority of the Crappy Little Kitchen! 

Feel free to donate if you'd like to be a part of the trip, get a Team CLK t-shirt, signed book, or even a fancy meal. If not, there will be no Crappy feelings, as long as you tell your friends about the project.  :-)

Fruits of your donation! :-D
Fruits of your donation! :-D

Risks and challenges

Being that this project is vehicular in nature, of course there is the potential for unexpected costs. A truck may need engine work and a trailer would need to be pulled by something. The good news is that my expertise is turning next to nothing into something grand.

Money needed to attach a starter to an engine would simply be saved by finding more economical refrigeration. With having so few fixed costs, I have ample room to shift expenses around within the budget. A skill that I have honed to fine blade over the years.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Tired of things falling off your Crappy Little fridge? Donate $10, and Chef Jen will send you a CLK refrigerator magnet!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Get your CLK on in style with a "Crappy Little Chuckwagon" T-shirt!

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    It's the gift that keeps on giving! Use for yourself in your own Crappy Little Kitchen or give it as a gift! But this modest donation will get you an autographed copy of "Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens!"

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Double your fun! 2 Crappy Little Chuckwagon Tshirts and 2 autographed copies of "Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens" for the bargain price of $100! That's savings you can't ignore! :-D

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Fancy yourself a celebrity? Donate $500 and we'll name an item for you on our 1st Crappy Little Menu! :-D We've done it before! Just read the book!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Would you like to meet Chef Jen? For such a generous donation, Team CLK will drive (within the Continental US) the finished Crappy Little Chuckwagon to your house and feed up to 10 of your friends an authentic "Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens" dinner!

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Funding period

- (30 days)