Editors note: This is another installation of an ongoing series of “Meet the Chef” by Democrat food writer Faith Bemiss that profiles local chefs, cooks, bakers, and others versed in food and drink. This week features Laurel Carty.
Sedalia resident Laurel Carty wanted to open a food business for herself. She began by making cookies to sell at the Sedalia Area Farmer’s Market but soon her plans would take a different, more mobile direction.
“I really wanted to open a tea room or a bakery,” she said. “There was some buildings I was looking at, but I really got to thinking about it and we had seen those shows on television about food trucks and we were like, ‘that will be a really great idea for Sedalia,’ because we hadn’t seen anything like a big city food truck. Around here we’re all used to concessions and fairs, so I wanted to do my truck differently and be like the big city food truck.”
So was born strEATs Mobile Deli, where Carty sells sandwiches, chili, snow cones and homemade cookies locally. The idea was a collaboration of both her and her husband Jeremy, who is an assistant manager at Menards.
“He’s really been the one to really back me up on this project,” she said. “To work it out that we could do this business venture.
“The food truck just kind of made sense,” she added. “It was a really good option. I bought my trailer in October and I tested it out in downtown twice in November.”
What she didn’t count on was the cold weather effecting her operation.
“I had thought I could run this business all year long,” she said. “It’s not as easy as it seems to own a food truck. The winter weather was freezing my tank and it busted my pipes and I had to get a new water pump. So I didn’t get stated the first of March like I wanted too, I started about a week or two later.”
Her 2014 season began around March 15 and will run through fall, although she’s decided to close down for the winter.
“We learned our lesson that we need to get all of the water out and winterize the trailer when winter gets here,” she said.
Carty, 34, grew up near Warrensburg and lived at Snail Creek Farm, an antibiotic-free beef operation, belonging to her parents Larry and Sherol Bell. Beef was a big part of her life while growing up.
“We ate beef every night,” Carty said. “So I learned to cook different things, my mom taught me, I’m the oldest and she taught me how to cook. So we made some really good beef dishes and I’ve always loved to bake.”
She said her favorite food truck on television was a dessert or treats truck and she would love to make more sweets for her own truck in the future.
“I love the dessert truck idea, I’d love to have a treats truck around here,” she said excitedly. “I just love desserts.”
At present, Carty said she doesn’t bake her own breads for her truck, but she is particular about what bread she serves. She has Woods Supermarket in Warrensburg special-make her ciabatta bread.
“The ciabatta bread is what I use for my hot sandwiches,” she said. “It’s different than what you can get here in Sedalia, and that’s the bread that I’ll put in the panini press. For my cold sandwiches, I use kaiser wheat rolls and then I use the rye for the Rubens.”
The beef she uses for her sandwiches and chili comes from her parent’s farm, and the bacon is from Alewel’s County Meats in Warrensburg.
A few customer favorites are the “Barnyard,” made with turkey, ham and roast beef, and “This Little Piggy has Roast Beef,” a hot sandwich made with ham and beef. Carty’s favorite is the Ruben and she has an intriguing story about why.
“That got started because my previous job, I worked for State Fair Community College and I traveled to all the schools on this side of Missouri,” Carty said. “I went to the high schools to talk to students about going to college.
“I traveled to all these little bitty towns … and I don’t like to eat at the chains because you can get that anywhere. I want to eat at the local places, so I would always just drive around a little town and see if I could find a diner. Go find their downtown square and see what they had, and I always ordered a Ruben with an unsweet tea.”
Carty kept a notebook and took notes about the different places she ate and the quality of the Rubens. Her favorite Ruben was in Warsaw at the cafe Higher Ground because they made their sandwiches with a steamer.
Although a steamer wouldn’t fit in her trailer she does have future plans for a commercial kitchen where she will be able to make more foods for the truck.
“A lot of food trucks in the city use what’s called a commissary,” she said. “It’s the place they park overnight and where their food is stored and even where they make and prep some of their food — if I was to serve or store food elsewhere it would have to be a certified kitchen just like my truck. Having a commercial kitchen is where my future is.”
Carty’s said that her food truck has a transient license and a business license and she has passed all health department inspections.
At present she is looking for a Monday location for her food truck, but on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. she parks on Waterloo Road; on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. she’s at ProEnergy Building 9; on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. she’s at Ohio Avenue and Seventh Street and from 4 to 7 p.m. at Wisconsin Avenue near Menards. Thursday is her shopping day.
Carty, who is a board member for the SAFM, said that when the market opens the first Friday in May she will be parking her truck there during market hours. She is also contemplating Saturday hours in the future.
Her menu and schedule may be found on her website at strEATsmobileDeli.com.