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Food Truck Owner Adam West Talks Bacon

Photo credit: Unforsacon Bacon

The food truck craze has obviously hit Dallas hard, with a new truck popping up seemingly every week. The mobile eateries are now spreading to the 'burbs, and one chef in particular has captured the tastebuds of food truck groupies. Chef Adam West cooked at Dragonfly here in Dallas and then Houston's outpost of Hotel ZaZa for several years before deciding to bring it on home to Garland and try his luck at a food truck. The truck, of course, would be centered around everyone's favorite smoked and cured meat product: bacon. Unforsacon Bacon was born out of many long days and nights of hard work from West and his wife (note the infinite strip of bacon running around the truck's perimeter), and they're now delighting folks in Garland with their meaty creations. West recently talked to Eater about the challenges of working in such a tiny space and cooking with bacon fat.

So the truck is currently operating exclusively in the Garland area.

I am. My wife and I built the truck ourselves literally from scratch. We bought a truck down in Houston before we came up here, then we actually got to use it as a moving truck, so it's had a few different disguises. We spent the last two and a half months completely renovating it ourselves, everything from putting the stainless steel walls up to putting in the appliances, electrical, gas line, everything. We are focusing on Garland, we were both born and raised there. I'm not gonna get all sentimental and say that we have to keep to our roots, but I think Garland was the one city around Dallas that has a very large population—like a quarter of a million—and a lot of people don't even know it exists. I wanted to focus on doing good food that's approachable and not getting too into the 'scene' of the Dallas food trucks. I'd like to get my feet wet a little bit. I'm new to this thing, it doesn't matter how many years I was in a kitchen professionally, a food truck is a whole different animal and I just wanted to make sure I was doing it right, starting a little slower and on a smaller scale. Obviously food trucks are inundating Dallas right now and it seems like a new one is coming out every week. Why do I wanna compete with 90 other trucks, especially when 30 of them just came out a week ago? I'd much rather just blaze my own trail I guess, for lack of a better term. I think especially in Garland it's going to take a while for people to understand because there is a food truck stigma, there is that initial reaction of 'oh I'm not gonna eat from a roach coach', but I think once we're definitely getting over that as a culture—Dallas pretty much has, as have a lot of other cities.

How's the adjustment been going from a big hotel kitchen [Hotel Zaza in Houston] to a small truck? Are you using a satellite kitchen to do your prep?

I've been in tight kitchens my whole life, and this is definitely an interesting little setup because it's just such a compact space. It's been a big learning curve. I'm doing everything on the truck, so it's even more tight. We're calling our french fries "truck-cut" instead of house-cut because we're cutting them on the truck and basically frying them a la minute. We're trying to do as much stuff fresh as we can, we don't have a freezer on the truck so there's really nothing frozen, although I'm thinking about installing one eventually because believe it or not I do a pretty good bacon ice cream.

Tell us about some of your bacon-centric menu items.

I don't have the ability yet, but I will be making my own bacon on the truck eventually. Right now we are using applewood-smoked exclusively, but we're doing things with it that I think people may find a little more interesting because when they try the burger, there's actually bacon in the burger meat, not just on top. We're doing bacon-scented croutons for our Caesar salad—yes, we put a salad, because my wife made me.

Definitely an early favorite is the barbacoa bacon tacos. We're doing bacon on top and bacon in it, we cook it with the tongue and beef cheek meat. The whole spin on it was simply adding bacon to a classic barbacoa taco, we wanted to go with a really good Mexican-style street taco. Chopped onion, cilantro, lime, a little avocado crema on top and queso fresco. Definitely not breaking any new boundaries by any means, but that wasn't necessarily the intent, it was just to do a little homage to a classic with some bacon added to it. We actually cook the meat in bacon fat of course, instead of lard or oil. The majority of the cooking on the truck does take place with bacon fat. There's definitely a paradigm on that one because some people love the natural fat and some people think it's disgusting, but what's disgusting is the fact that you can put a tub of margarine out and flies won't even touch it. And so there's something to be said about getting back to the natural fat. If I'm gonna have calories I'd much rather have them with flavor and bacon fat is pretty much the best you can get.