April 3, 2013 in Features, Food

Heaven on wheels

Couple of Chefs take their fine-dining skills to the streets
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tyler Tjomsland photoBuy this photo

Chefs Joilee Forral and Allen Skelton work as team to prepare lunches in the small-quarters of their food truck “Couple of Chefs” on Thursday, March 21, 2013, at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Wash.
(Full-size photo)

Today’s Menu

Couple of Chefs Catering & Street Cuisine
(509) 290-9408
Stir Eatery & Lounge
7115 N. Division St.
(509) 466-5999
Capone’s Pub & Grill
9520 N. Government Way, Hayden
(208) 762-5999
Gourmet Foragables & More
Forest to plate foray with Casper Fry
(509) 280-6630

Some might think of Joile Forral and Allen Skelton as the couple with the food truck – but it’s probably better to consider them mobile chefs who come complete with their own kitchen.

Both are graduates of the Western Culinary Institute in Portland where they first met and started dating. Skelton spent some time in the kitchen at Latah Bistro with chefs David Blaine and Don Leonard before moving to Soulful Soups and Spirits and then back again. Forral is a pastry chef who started out in San Diego baking and decorating at Nothing Bundt Cakes before culinary school. Since then, she’s worked as the opening breakfast and pastry chef at Masselow’s at the Northern Quest Casino & Resort.

They launched their Couple of Chefs Catering business in 2011 and added the food truck to the mix this winter.

“With the catering, the bulk of our catering is during the wedding season in the summer, so if we wanted to do it full time, we needed something to supplement our income when we’re not busy with weddings,” Forral said. “The food truck is more of our fun thing whereas the catering is a little more serious. You can come up with silly names and crazy ideas.”

They were crazy enough to hit the streets with the food truck just before Christmas. They weathered the winter weather while establishing a lunchtime route Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On Monday, they’re at Post and Riverside. Tuesday’s stop is at the Spokane County Courthouse on Broadway Avenue. Wednesday’s the Couple of Chefs truck is parked at Howard and First. Sacred Heart Hospital near Rockwood and Grand is the Thursday location and Friday find them at Howard and Main.

They’re serving street cuisine – sloppy Reuben sandwiches, drunken noodles, burgers that require two hands and fried macaroni and cheese balls – but they’ve incorporated their insistence on fine and made-from-scratch ingredients into the food truck menu.

The Reuben ($7) – called the Rudeben, Reuben’s drunk uncle – is made from corned beef that they make from scratch. The Cajun burger features andouille sausage that they grind and form into patties ($7) and top with smoked Gouda, fried onions and smoked paprika aioli. Another winner among customers is the 82nd Burger ($7), a freshly ground, hand formed burger patty topped with bacon cheddar and their KGB sauce, a homemade secret Russian sauce.

They make the smoky macaroni and cheese with bacon and jalapenos from scratch and then scoop it into balls and bread it themselves for the fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls ($3.50). They don’t make the tater tots from scratch, but they are definitely a draw for the truck.

The Couple of Chefs truck also doubles as their kitchen for on-site catering for weddings, parties and events such as Pig Out in the Park and Oktoberfest. They have to pass all of the same Health Department inspections as any brick-and-mortar restaurant but they said some are still skeptical. They’re hopeful that it will catch on in this area the way food trucks and mobile kitchens have in other areas. “It is kind of a new concept still in this area, but people are super open to it,” Forral said.

They’re having fun with plans for an upcoming catering job that includes a wedding reception and then breakfast out of the food truck for guests the next morning. Everything is customizable with no preset menu and prices for catering and they offer a complimentary first meeting to get things rolling.

They keep their website updated with pictures of past events and ideas that they love at www.coupleofchefscatering.com. Or, catch details about where the truck is parked and what they’re serving on Facebook and Twitter.

Stir’s new owner mixes up a few changes

Stir Eatery & Lounge, 7119 N. Division St., has a new owner.

Ryan Lieuallen bought the restaurant and martini lounge and took over in mid-February. He’s spiffed things up a bit and made a few other changes, but chef Nick Keslar is still in the kitchen.

Keslar prides himself on the kitchen’s smoked meats and scratch-made sauces. He said in a news release, “I’d put Stir’s Reuben up against any in town as the best you have ever tasted.”

The house-smoked pastrami sandwich is served on marbled rye and stacked with Swiss, red cabbage and from-scratch Thousand Island dressing ($10.99 lunch/$14.99 dinner). The menu features other pub grub favorites with a twist including lobster macaroni and cheese ($7.99/$12.99), spicy Korean tacos ($6.99), the Arizona burger topped with guacamole, red onion, roasted Anaheim pepper and a southwest aioli ($7.99). Kesler said other favorites include the spicy house gumbo ($7.99/$9.99), sesame ahi tuna ($13.99/$22.99) and seared flat-iron steak served with garlic mashed potatoes ($13.99).

Lunch and dinner are served daily starting at 11 a.m. The restaurant closes at midnight most nights and later on weekends.

Bartender Robert Dixon has developed new drinks, including a Basil Rangpur gimlet and Lemon Pound Cake martini, as a part of the expanded bar offerings. The restaurant also features libations from local and regional breweries, wineries and Dry Fly Distillery.

There are more details about Stir Eatery & Lounge at stirmartini.com or follow them on Facebook or Twitter for specials. Reach the restaurant at (509) 466-5999.

Capone’s in Hayden open today

The latest addition to the Capone’s Pub & Grill family opens today.

Owners Tom and Teresa Capone announced that the highly anticipated Hayden pub would open Wednesday on Facebook late last week. The new pub is in the former Cory’s Furniture at Hayden Avenue and Government Way.

Capone’s Pub & Grill was born more than two decades ago when Capone took over a gas station turned dive bar in Coeur d’Alene. A second location in Post Falls opened in 2006, but it was later destroyed by an arson fire. That pub reopened in 2008. Capone’s pubs feature homemade pizza, serious sandwiches, from-scratch pub grub and beer taps galore. It was featured on the Food Network’s show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” with celebrity chef Guy Fieri.

The other Capone’s locations are at 315 N. Ross Point Road in Post Falls and 751 N. Fourth Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.

Scrounge up some wild food for dinner

Gourmet Foragables & More is teaming up with Casper Fry for an unusual dinner.

First, Josh Yake of Gourmet Foragables will teach guests how to identify native edible plants and mushrooms in their natural setting during a forest-to-table foray on April 28. Then, two days later guests can join Casper Fry executive chef Joshua Martin at the restaurant, 928 S. Perry St., for a five-course dinner featuring ingredients found during the hunt.

Tag along on the foray and learn to identify morel, oyster and coral mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, sheep sorrel, wild ramps, miner’s lettuce, cattails, stinging nettles and watercress. The cost is $50 per person or $90 for two people. Children under age 12 are welcome to come on the foray free of charge. It will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 28 rain or shine. No refunds will be offered.

Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. on April 30 and it is $60 for one person, or $100 for two. Sign up for both the foray and dinner for $110 per person or $190 for two.

Gourmet Foragables & More sells mushrooms and other wild edibles to local restaurants and at area farmers markets during the growing season.

There is more information or sign up for the foray and dinner at gourmetforagables.blogspot.com/.


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