CONNOR TOWNSHIP, Maine — When Tina Hotchkiss took her culinary abilities on the highway final fall, she wasn’t certain how clients would reply to her not-so-traditional meals truck type.
However with dozens of private and non-private occasions below her belt, Hotchkiss and her cellular kitchen Fork within the Street have already grown a formidable group following.
Meals vehicles will not be new to Aroostook County. Summer time festivals and gala’s are crammed with cellular distributors catering to clients’ candy tooths or cravings for fried and grilled favorites. Simply this yr, The County has welcomed meals vehicles devoted to Mexican fare, barbecue and low. Hotchkiss has discovered her personal area of interest.
As a substitute of specializing in only one specialty, the chef dabbles in lots of types of “gourmand American delicacies” — from the extra typical burgers and fries to Italian and Mexican to much less conventional meals truck dishes, like toasted ravioli, honey scorching hen sandwich and spinach artichoke quesadillas.
“I wished to supply one thing totally different. There are folks already doing barbecue significantly better than I might,” mentioned Hotchkiss, who lives in Connor Township. “You at all times have to have a burger on the menu, however folks additionally like one thing moreover the usual.”
A Connecticut native, Hotchkiss grew up in a big Italian household that at all times cooked home made dishes collectively.
It was not till her youngest son Nathan, now 17, began college that Hotchkiss started working for a Connecticut community-supported agriculture farm, which gives native members a share of its seasonal crops.
Hotchkiss observed that a lot of the farm’s unsold meals wound up within the compost pile. That’s when she took to the kitchen and commenced experimenting.
“We made our personal sauces and soups and bought them at farmers markets,” Hotchkiss mentioned. “I did the identical factor at a poultry farm, the place we made our personal cheeses and cured meat.”
Hotchkiss later gained expertise as a restaurant kitchen supervisor. She graduated from the Auguste Escoffier College of Culinary Arts in 2014 after finishing the varsity’s on-line program.
In 2020, Hotchkiss moved together with her husband Ron and sons Nathan, 17, and Brody, 19, to northern Maine, following Ron’s job with Consolidated Communications. Nathan and Brody have grow to be their mom’s most constant workers at Fork within the Street.
Hotchkiss contemplated beginning a restaurant after first transferring to Aroostook. However with fewer folks eating out through the pandemic, she selected to see what would occur within the business.
Hotchkiss launched Fork within the Street in October and commenced catering non-public occasions. She made her public debut at Caribou’s inaugural SnowBowl competition in March.
“Having a meals truck makes us extra cellular and never pigeonholed to particular varieties of meals,” Hotchkiss mentioned. “We hope to construct a following and perhaps later open a brick-and-mortar restaurant.”
Fork within the Street has grow to be a close to fixed presence at Aroostook’s hottest summer season occasions, together with Thursdays on Sweden Avenue in Caribou, Fourth of July in Limestone and Rockin’ on Riverside in Presque Isle. Hotchkiss maintains a weekly presence at Caribou Wellness & Recreation Heart and at Loring Commerce Centre.
This summer season, Hotchkiss has additionally seen requests for personal catering improve. Between that and the festivals, she has traveled as far north as Lengthy Lake within the St. John Valley and as far south as Presque Isle.
At a latest worker gathering for Protection Finance & Accounting Service in Fort Fairfield, colleagues Jennifer Campbell, Natalie Cyr and Sare Giberson grew to become enthusiastic first-time clients.
All of them tried the spinach artichoke quesadilla, considered one of Hotchkiss’ hottest menu gadgets. The quesadilla mixes recent spinach and artichoke hearts with cheddar jack and feta cheese, salsa and bitter cream in a grilled flour tortilla.
“I feel it’s nice,” Cyr mentioned. “She ought to undoubtedly open a restaurant.”