The Chatham Street Chowdown, Cary’s first food truck rodeo, was held in the heart of the downtown. There were 15 food trucks along with craft beers from Fortnight Brewing Company and wine choices from Chatham Hill Winery. Live music was also provided during the rodeo. In addition some of the local merchants opened their stores showing their support for the event. The atmosphere was that of a community block party showcasing Downtown Cary. Although this was a first time event, it was well executed and we could tell there had been a lot of behind the scene planning prior to “going live.” The Friends were very pleased with the ample seating available, recycling bins, and the presence of EMS and police.
The dreary start to the day didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of The Friends as they headed off to the Chatham Street Chowdown. As usual we had done a little pre-rodeo planning and were ready to put our plan in action when we arrived. But too our dismay, the online menus were not what the food trucks were preparing for the day. While there were plenty of food trucks to satisfy our appetites and give us a large variety of delicacies to delight our palates, we had adjust our plans to the actual menus. Perhaps with future events, which is sure to happen based on the turn out, maps of the truck’s locations and a highlight menu will be provided.
This food rodeo brought back memories of living in Louisiana. I love good boudin, but it is not readily available in North Carolina. For those of you not familiar with this treat, boudin, the king of Cajun food, is my favorite thing in the world to eat. It is a unique food in that it can be breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, or car food. No two boudins are exactly alike—that’s amazing, considering they all have basically the same ingredients of rice and pork.
While in line for the boudin from Baton Rouge Cuisine, I started talking to the man in line behind me. I asked him where he was from. He told me he was from Alexandria. I started laughing; telling him it was a small world because I too had lived in Alexandria. We talked about great food, favorite restaurants, such as Pre Jeans and the Country Tyme Store in Lake Charles, where to get the best cracklings or boudin. He told me that the LSU Alumni Associate had a yearly Crayfish Boil and it was open to everyone. He said they cooked nearly 400 lbs of crayfish for the event. I have already made a notation on my calendar.
Olio and Aceto made a great truffle macaroni bite. It was made to order, so it was hot and sticky, a delight to the taste buds; a true gastronomical wonder. This is a wonderful comfort food.
Sunday was a day to make new friends. Debbie and her husband Ron joined our table and were happy to talk about their food. Ron had selected Jambalaya from the Baton Rouge Food truck. He said it was very good, giving it a 3 out of 4 tires. Debbie had selected the chicken Pita from Gussy’s Greek Street Food, since she liked less spicy food. She loved the tzatziki sauce. Ron had considered ordering the boudin, so I parted with a piece so they could taste it. They loved it, giving it a 4.
The Cary Food Truck Rodeo was a great success and l hope it becomes a regular event, to bring the community together, as they did at this event.
When we arrived, I headed off to get us a table and The Traveler and Bad Boy each went off in different directions to gather our food selections. I found us the perfect spot in the center of the rodeo, in the shade and close enough to the bandstand to have music for our dining experience. I waited patiently for my friends to return with the goodies. The Traveler dropped off Boudin Balls from Baton Rouge Cuisine before she went on to get the Slaw Plate (barbeque and slaw) from the Humble Pig and Truffled Mac and Cheese bites from Olio and Aceto. When the Bad Boy finally arrived with a selection of paninis and watermelon gazpacho from Deli-icious, we were ready to dig into and sample our selections. My favorite of the day was the pulled pork with the “kick butt sauce”. The meat was very juicy with just the right amount of smoke flavor. I tried each of the panins and “Lucky” was my pick. Olio and Aceto did not disappoint with their Truffled Mac and Cheese bite. It was a lightly breaded bite of gooey goodness, yum. After we had finished off the main course, I headed out under the pretense of “just wanting to look around” but my real mission was ice cream. I found several selections at The Freezing Point and returned with a bowl of salted caramel and a bowl of coffee with chocolate chip. Besides all the great food I also enjoy talking with other rodeo goers. At different times a couple of groups of dinners join us at our table. One particular group had visited Baton Rouge Cuisine and chosen the crawfish etouffee and the shrimpetouffee. Both said the dishes were delicious.
First time organized events, like festivals, can be demanding, as well as awkward for community organizers. There are the variables which they have control over; venue, location, amenities and public safety. Then there are those elements that they have no control over; turnout, no-shows, conflicts/controversy, and weather – being among the least predicable. All of these elements collectively can make-or-break future events of the same venue. Team Triangle Street Eats arrived a bit early for the Chatham Street Chowdown. I like to arrive at any event a little early, to see the layout, and to get a perception of people interaction, as the event unfolds. Also, arriving early helps to avoid the long lines for food, beverage and seating. Arriving early also gives me a good perspective on “crowd-swell,” the phenomenon by which an event or venue can increase/decrease its turnout by any of the above-mentioned elements through social media.
It would be an hour after we arrived that I noticed that the “crowd-swell” was headed in the positive direction, and the likelihood of rain did not deter many who had initially planned to attend. Before long, long lines had formed at all of the trucks and there were still many hours of planned activities.
My highest regards to the Town of Cary, and to all of the people who worked so hard to make the Chatham Street Chowdown a success. It was exceptionally well planed. Since Triangle Street Eats is based in Cary, I know that Team TSE can look forward to reviewing other Cary food truck events in the near future.