It’s bright orange, 28 feet long and skinny enough to fit in a single parking space.
It’s powered by a generator nicknamed “Jenny.” And its owners — two Wichita natives turned California surfer dudes — are cranking out some of the best food available in their hometown.
Meet the Flying Stove food truck and brothers Jeff and Rob Schauf. If you’ve seen a line of hungry people form in a place where you wouldn’t normally expect it recently, you’ve probably happened onto one of the mobile kitchen’s temporary locations.
“We’ve been very surprised and ecstatic about the response,” said Jeff Schauf, who actually seems too laid back to be either surprised or ecstatic. “We didn’t know what to expect.”
The Flying Truck is Wichita’s first version of the gourmet food truck trend that has hit many other cities. Forget about hot dogs, potato chips and anything you’re used to seeing handed through the window of a food truck. The truck’s chalkboard menu, which undergoes a major overhaul every two weeks, recently offered three main dish choices: a herb-crusted flatiron steak with chimichurri sauce ($10), a grilled pineapple pork torta ($8) or Asian fish taco with seared tilapia, ponzu tossed napa cabbage and red chili garlic sauce ($3).
For sides there were grilled asparagus or truffle fries with parmesan and herbs ($4 each).
The Schauf brothers got introduced to the food truck movement while living in Venice, California, where Rob spent a decade cooking in fine restaurants and Jeff was in business.
The brothers thought about starting their mobile food business in Australia, which offers plenty of their beloved surfing, but decided to return home instead. They found a former delivery truck online and had it outfitted for cooking in Houston. The inside of the van holds a prep station, deep fryer, two grills, refrigerator, freezer and sink.
Rob Schauf notes that it’s actually as roomy as several restaurant kitchens in which he’s worked. But unlike those kitchens, Rob notes, “You can be outside a little bit with this. I love that aspect of it.”
The brothers and their one employee, Bryce Keeler, seem just as intent on having a good time. They work in flip-flops or tennis shoes and baseball caps turned backwards. After opening last fall, the brothers took a break for pre-Mardi Gras fun in New Orleans — the result was a menu full of Cajun and Creole delights — and more recently split up for a week of “research” in California and New York.
On a recent afternoon, as they got ready for a dinner rush in Delano, Keeler chopped rosemary, Rob grilled bread for sandwiches and Jeff philosophized about the food business. “It’s sort of like going fishing,” he said. “With a regular restaurant, you fish off the bay. When you have this, you go where the fish are.”
Then he started talking about how important music is to the Flying Stove.
“If the music stops, we stop,” he said. “Music is the soul of the Flying Stove. The generator is the heart and Rob is the brain, or …” Jeff stopped, laughing. “All we really know is that the generator is the heart.”
To find out where the Flying Stove is parked, go to theflyingstove.com or follow them on facebook.