Egg Roll on Wheels
Variations on comfort food, from a truck
When Kathy Lloyd says owning a food truck featuring inventive variations on the egg roll was a dream of hers, she’s not kidding. Originally, she and husband Gabe hit the road in the Berkshires, Connecticut, and New York with plans to specialize in New Orleans cuisine. Then Kathy had that dream.
“When I woke up, I said to Gabe, ‘Everything’s changed, baby. He just rolled his eyes. He’s used to me by now.”
The couple’s long adventure together began when they first met as teenagers working at Shakespeare & Company. They eventually lived and worked in the DreamAway Lodge in Becket the first year it was open, and by the time winter arrived, decided to take off for New Orleans together. There they honed their culinary chops, with Gabe working the back of the house at Pat O’Brien’s on St. Peter Street and Kathy working the front for Emeril Lagasse, doing everything from bartending to cooking to waitressing.
After five years of New Orleans–style adventures, they returned to the Berkshires to get married and have babies, and it was here that they started devising their food-truck foray. “We knew it was an up-and-coming trend, and we always have these wacky, culinary ideas,” says Kathy. “The best place to really try those out is in a food truck because it’s a low overhead to hop into business for yourself.”
To help finance the truck, Kathy cashed in a 401(k) and also got some help from family, and she and Gabe began planning what was to be called Bayou Some Grub. But they started to have second thoughts about the restricted New Orleans focus and the challenge of charging a modest price for top-notch ingredients.
Then came the dream with egg rolls.
“With this egg-roll paradigm, I could still make New Orleans food; I just put it in an egg roll,” Kathy says. “We have beans and rice in an egg roll from time to time. We can do all sorts of goofy stuff; and the only thing that we’re limited to is how well it rolls and fries.”
Their first prototypes were a macaroni-and-cheese egg roll—now so popular it is never off the menu—and a chicken-dinner egg roll with roast chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots. There were some flops—a wedge-salad egg roll and one with braised beef tongue—that just didn’t sell.
But the tasty successes have been abundant. The couple’s food truck— shiny black with a hard-to-miss, roller-derby blonde emblazoned on the side—is named How We Roll. A rotating menu features a beef-stroganoff egg roll inspired by Kathy’s mother’s dish, a Moroccan-tagine egg roll , an egg roll featuring Julia Child’s beef bourguignon, and a hugely popular chicken-enchilada egg roll. There’s even a spaghetti-and-meatballs egg roll.
How We Roll also features a number of breakfast egg rolls, all with eggs and varying other ingredients, from bacon to kale. There are also salad rolls, which are not fried, and a selection of dessert egg rolls, including the Hipster Elvis that features organic banana, natural peanut butter, and Nutella.
“We’re always on the lookout for something interesting and diverse,” says Kathy. “Some people say that our menu is all over the place, but I like to think that we’re cooking what we love. I don’t want to have the same menu every day, and we’re not limited by the food-truck paradigm to have to do that.”
With the only food truck based in the Berkshires, the Lloyds initiated the Food Truck Rodeo last spring, a benefit to support Moments House in Pittsfield. The day of fun included a gathering of various food trucks from other areas offering their cuisine specialties. The second rodeo will be held this year on May 2 and 3 at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., part of the Spring Shindy at Shire City Sanctuary in Pittsfield. Food trucks will also gather for SummerSound at Tanglewood on May 23 and for the SolidSound and FreshGrass festivals at MASS MoCA.
To most outsiders, food trucks appear to provide a carefree lifestyle for their purveyors. But as any owner will tell you, running a food truck is more a calling than a business to take lightly. Food trucks are seasonal—virtually all of them in northern climes shut down in winter. Insurance is costly. Travel from venue to venue while keeping fresh food stocked and prepared requires precise planning. Volatile food prices wreak havoc with menus, and work days can sometimes last as long as 20 hours. And working in a food truck can be more challenging than working in a full-size kitchen.
“Every move you make on a food truck should be well rehearsed, well thought out,” Kathy explains. “A lot of it is being willing to move and grow and change, which in a lot of ways personifies the food-truck movement.”
It’s a calling for the dedicated and adventurous, and while the Lloyds don’t dismiss a more stationary site in their future, right now they are happy travelers in their food truck, bringing comfort food to the people