I confess that I misjudged Box of Chacos, thrown off by the sombrero wearing, chop stick holding panda logo, on the foreground of an orange truck. Not my usual color palette and symbols that define higher end cuisine. I was misled by the graphics on the truck, and wish I would have focused or looked into the food being served instead.
So I’ll fast forward all the favorable adjectives and say that BOX OF CHACOS, and that chinese PANDA is KICK ASS awesome. Here are some of the highlights, and an inside look at the chef behind this tasty food truck.
After tasting a few of the popular menu items, I caught up with David Peck, the chef on wheels, to get an inside look at the food behind Box of Chacos.
What’s the story behind the name you chose for your food truck?
The name for “Chacos” is actually so simple that most people don’t even catch it: It’s portmanteau of Chinese Tacos. We went over many, many names but none had the catch and ring like Chacos did. The Box of Chacos was added after we were up and running and was derived from our website and social media handles…Chacos (nor anything simple and easy related to) wasn’t available so we opted to go with “Box of Chacos” as we’re a rolling box full of Chinese Tacos!
Tell us a little about the BOX OF CHACOS Menu?
The Chacos menu is a blend of all sorts of awesome Asian and Latin flavors. Of course Chinese flair is all over the place but there are so many great cuisines in Asia that it would be a travesty to commit to any one. Our menu tries to offer a lot of variety with each and every dish having bold flavors, great garnishes, lots of texture and character. We want to have a little bit of something for everyone and think we were able to nail down a menu that does just that. More importantly we focus on quality ingredients and that’s out priority. We will never be the cheapest nor do we want to be. Good food isn’t cheap and the amount of love and preparation that goes into our ingredients is something you’d find in a higher end restaurant. But we serve it all in a very approachable, sensible manner (from the truck and in tacos). Best of both worlds!
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Louisiana. Born in Lafayette and raised in Baton Rouge. I’ve lived all over and this is my third time in Florida.
Where did you learn to cook?
I grew up as a fat kid so always loved food. Being able to cook just helped me grow! In addition my grandparents owned a bed and breakfast when I was a kid and I have fond memories of working with my grandmother in the kitchen and having a great time doing it. My grandmother finally convinced me to get a job in the kitchen and it was simply meant to be. It just clicked. I spent tons of time reading books, experimenting with recipes and falling in love with food. I decided to go to Johnson and Wales in North Miami and dedicated much of my 20s to working with the best Chefs I could, wherever I was.
Why did you choose to start a Food Truck?
To be honest a food truck wasn’t the first thing I wanted to do. Nor 2,3,4, 5, 6, etc…. It never really seemed like it was something I wanted to do, maybe because I thought it was a fad, etc. but once I started trying to get funding for a restaurant I realized how a truck would be the best and easiest way to get the concept out so I decided to take the plunge. It’s still a proof of concept, definitley working on making a brick and mortar happen but until then food truck it is!
What is your all time favorite dish to eat?
Who is your biggest culinary influence?
I have so many some of the ones I’ve directly worked for were Michael Kornick and Anthony Bombacci. Nobu was a tremendous influence because he was a great Chef but even better businessman. I try to take influence from everyone and anyone I work with and for. I like to follow what Chefs all over are doing and can easily use that as inspiration. Sometimes we learn the most and are influenced the most from the people right next to us.
What are your favorite food combinations?
My favorite food combinations are something rich and full flavored paired with something sweet, sour and spicy. For example we do something called “Sincronizada” which is like a tortilla cheese melt and we top it with soy braised pork belly from time to time. We garnish it with bleu cheese, tomato jam, caramelized kimchi and our special sauce and it’s out of this world. It has so many great textures, so rich, just enough heat and sweetness and balanced by the right amount of acidity. Good stuff!
If we’re visiting Box of Chacos, what’s the one dish we can’t leave without trying
When visiting Chacos I would definitely recommend trying the Kimchi Burger Taco or one of our specials. That taco is by far one of our best sellers and we do some cool stuff with duck, pork belly, lamb breast, etc. for specials that tend to be pretty awesome.
Other than your own, what’s your favorite food truck in Miami right now?
Hmm…I don’t think I can say I have one favorite. There are probably 15 trucks from Miami to West Palm that I respect and admire for how they do their business and the food they cook. Each has one or two things that could definitely be favorites but none more than the other.
Box Of Chacos