A Barre-born chef with a dream on wheels is rolling out locally-sourced goodies and homemade comfort food all around Rutland County.
Brent Black, founder and chef at Sustainable Eats, started at his first job as a prep cook, then line cook at Soup ’n Greens in Barre when he was a teenager and knew then that cuisine would be his chosen craft.
So after three years in the trade, Black went to New England Culinary Institute before embarking on a 30-year brick-and-mortar career as a chef and a cook.
But the rough-and-tumble restaurant industry with its long hours and stressful situations proves to be too much for most people, and Black made the transition from food preparation to food sales for Black River Produce, where he made many connections.
“But I needed to get back into food,” Black said. “So the wife and I bounced some ideas around.”
They thought about opening their own place, but the startup efforts and costs shifted their focus to the notion of a mobile restaurant.
“We probably looked at a thousand food trucks,” Black said. “Then we found Food Truck South.”
Food Trucks South is an Atlanta-based custom food truck company that builds food trucks to suit the chef’s needs, including custom outfitting equipment, windows and refrigeration.
“My wife and I designed it,” Black said. “I did the interior, we both did the exterior.”
After more than $100,000 in building and equipment, including a Simonelli Appia II espresso machine and a Vollrath standing mixer, Black and his wife brought their new food truck home in mid-July and headed straight for their first event: Wallingford Days.
“We’ve been really fortunate in people wanting us at events,” Black said.
For most if not all of the week, Black creates home-made comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, lasagnas and rich Philly-style cheese steak, including prepared dinners for people to take home.
Lunchers can also take home fruit smoothies with organic apple juice and organic fruits, or coffee smoothies with Vermont Coffee at the ready.
Black said he tries to use as local, organic and sustainable products as he can find, and serves gluten-free granola with Green Mountain yogurt, Cabot and Grafton cheddar on his sandwiches and soups with North Country Smokehouse ham, and even Grandy Oats organic oatmeal cups for breakfast on the go.
“We do stuffed sandwiches, pesto and four-cheese,” Black said, lifting back the stainless-steel covers concealing steaming slow-cooked meats and rolls. “We kind of change up what we do.”
All of Black’s take-out containers are compostable and biodegradeable, and Black composts all food waste from his new business.
If he’s not parked near Rutland Family Health Center on Monday and Thursday in the warm months, Black said he’s pretty consistently booked out by everyone from Vermont Electric Co. and Brandon Harvest Fest to the Tunbridge Fair and Shelburne Farms for their Draft Animal Power Days event. Killington Mountain Resort just reserved Sustainable Eats for their 2019 World Cup.
“They want to tow the truck part-way up the mountain,” Black said smiling. “We’ll see how that goes, but I’m in.”
Sustainable Eats will be set up Monday through Thursday at Skyship on Killington through the winter, Black said, filled in with several days at their Rutland Family Health location.
The hope, Black said, is to consider growing, perhaps expanding their food truck family to include hybrid engines, smaller coffee trucks, and expand their localized repertoire.
“Fresh, sustainable fish when we have fish, and the meat is always hormone free, antibiotic free and humanely raised,” Black said. “We try to just keep it all clean, that’s all. ... It’s the way I’ve always done brick and mortar. It’s been my model as a chef and as a dad.”