It’s a Thursday. I’m sipping my way down NOFO to meet friends for our weekly celebration of “Little Friday.” It’s an occasion that calls for all-things frothy, and Flytrap Brewery is the next stop of choice. Treading toward the picnic tables, I suddenly find myself face-to-face with “The Mystery Machine.” Scooby is nowhere in sight. I take a few steps toward the groovy bus and see a white board covered in delicious scribbles. It’s a menu—a damn good menu. Seemingly, I stumble into the magical world of Funky Fresh Food Truck … and what a gnarly ride!
Funky Fresh is the tasty brain child of John Oliver Evans. It only takes one look at his eclectic, ever-changing menu to see the chef is fluent in food. Evans is a master of “bridging the gap between farm and fork.” One mouthful of his fried snapper has me a believer. Trust me: I know a superpower when I see one. In true farm-to-table fashion, Funky Fresh delivers fare inspired by what’s growing currently and where. Seasonal cooking is all about being adaptable and finding imaginative ways to fuse artistic creativity with what the land has to offer. Hey, Chef Evans: #nailedit
With a focus on regional availability, Funky Fresh’s menu ranges from trip to trip. Still, Chef Evans keeps some house staples handy, like whole fried fish and a few righteous spins on the traditional burger. Words like “bacon jam” and “rib eye tacos” pop when scouring previous menus. After sliding into my stretchy pants, and dreaming of sweet corn and nori fritters, I had to remind myself that farm-driven cuisine means anything is possible. In other words, banking on a consistent menu just isn’t an option—but open minds and empty stomachs always are welcome.
Though the chicken Philly may seem like a pretty tame dish for a truck whose first impression is a kaleidoscope of neon swirls and animal portraits, Chef Evans gets it right. The gooey, steaming hot sub innocently rests in a checkered basket, but the Philly’s vessel is a crisp, toasted hoagie roll split down the middle, with its insides spilling over the top of the bun. It’s the epitome of sandwich perfection. The cheese-smothered, thinly sliced chicken tastes succulent, meaty and tangled with sautéed onions and peppers. In true Philly fashion, every component melds and comes with a gentle sear on the flat top. This is the kind of dish that won’t make diners ask, “Who stole my cheese?” Each savory bite drips with creamy, melted mozzarella to create an ideal textural contrast to the yeasty chew of the bread (full disclosure: I considered taking a nap inside of it).
Next up: the fried shrimp burger—a bad-ass sandwich I was sure would eat me first. The recommendation, straight from the chef himself, overflows with spicy slaw and rests inside a buttery, glistening bun. A thin smear of rich aioli curbs the heat, and the flavors intertwine in a fresh and intense profile. The shrimp are briny and tender, under a flash-fried outer layer. Each salty bite complements a savory crunch. Better yet—and in an unexpected twist—the slaw stands front and center as the main attraction. Its gentle tanginess coddles every bite before the sharp, fiery heat smacks the palate. Well played, slaw. Well played.
However, the snapper holds the most star power on this particular menu. (Also, it was listed first; I may not be good at math, but I know being number one is good.) Typically, when I go to a food truck, I expect tacos. So when out comes a head-to-tail, fully alert, whole fried fish—well, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
Beautifully presented—to the point I questioned whether to eat it or hang it on my refrigerator—the snapper is coated in a thin, elegant cornmeal crust of deep-fried goodness. The fork slides between the crisp breading and juicy meat so easily. Snapper has a fine texture and mild flavor, so sometimes it needs a little pizazz. The Funky Fresh cornmeal coating tastes zesty and exotic, thanks to additional spices that give it a flair fit for a fish … err, a king.
No meal is complete without some form of fried potatoes, and the tots don’t dissapoint either. I suggest the golden morsels come doused in cheese (since it was “Little Friday,” I needed to congratulate myself on a hard work week and all). They meet all tot standards: crackly on the outside and airy on the inside. The cheese takes on a light-colored sauce, not too heavy, and doesn’t overwhelm the potatoes. With every pop of the crumbly, cheese-drizzled nuggets and the sip of a Flytrap brew, I couldn’t help but concur with my pals: “Yeah, life is good.”
All in all—and to put it bluntly—Funky Fresh Food Truck is doing the damn thing. As consumers, when a vow is made—in this case to be funky and fresh—well, we expect that promise to be met. Chef Evans delivers new-age, diverse farm-to-table fare. On a whim of where to eat, I’d follow this truck anywhere. They’re proving the food truck race is coming on strong in Wilmington—and, well, I’ll continue lining up for the show