This is the kick-off article to a new feature about everything regarding cooking on the road in a truck. I will be featuring chefs who make amazing meals that look like they came from a five star restaurant instead of a cleverly-named kitchen that rolls down the road at 65 mph. Complete with pictures and recipes, there will also be tips on storage, the latest appliances being used, how to power those appliances and more. I will also be featuring drivers who are really taking food and healthy eating to a new level. I think we can all benefit from the motivation and delicious recipes they have to offer.
Our first chef is Richard Launius and his fiancé Sharleen, who are planning to get married in December. Richard has been on the road for 30 years and told me, “After 30 years on the road, one day I’ll get home.” To which I said, “And when you do, you’ll have to go back out a few days later!” Sharleen has been back on the road for the last five years after being a driver and then taking time at home to be a mom.
Richard and Sharleen recently moved from the Kenworth Café down the street to the Peterbilt Bistro. And, as you can see, they have a BIG sleeper! Having a big bunk is a bit of an advantage when it comes to cooking on the road, but it is not necessary. Richard has been cooking in the truck long before he bought his first big bunk. “You can make it work,” he said. And with all the new appliances out there, drivers are making it work in a big way – even with less space.
Recalling the first trip out in a big bunk, Richard was parked in a truck stop cooking his dinner. Standing at the stove while boiling a pot of squash, he was looking out the open window on the side of his sleeper when another driver backing into the spot next to him stopped and did a double take. Richard just waved and said, “Hi neighbor.” In that first big bunk he thought he needed to carry everything, but he has found that he can cook great meals with a minimum of supplies.
Fish is a favorite in the Peterbilt Bistro. Salmon and sautéed shrimp with Brussel sprouts or asparagus on the side is cooked regularly at the “Bistro” as well as a fish called Swai. These fish fillets have a lot of flavor and are like a cross between Cod and Red Snapper – they can be found in the frozen section at Walmart, among other places. He likes to make a topping for the fish consisting of fresh red bell peppers, fresh garlic, fresh dill, a little cooking wine or cooking sherry, a little lemon, and then topped off with some fresh parsley. The presentation of the food Richard prepares is beautiful!
Fresh fruits and vegetables will be more available soon, once the farmers markets start back up in the late spring and summer. If you have a fridge, try to keep as much fresh food as possible with you in your truck. Be sure to carry your favorite spices, too. Most are dry and don’t take up much space. If you are worried about clean-up, antibacterial wipes work great when you don’t have a kitchen sink and hot running water. Be safe out there. Spice it up, and keep on cookin!