Re-writing fast food: Meet the Black Market Food Truck
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • November 09, 2012 @ 2:52pm
Throw away your preconceived notions about fast food—this post won’t delve into the elusive McRib or those delicious little Burger King Cinnabons.
One of the co-owners of the prospective Black Market Food Truck, Michael Dimmer harbors a mature perspective of the Buffalo food truck scene. Customers are most focused on speed and location, he believes, and when those traits are met with a quality product, such a business will thrive.
“Everyone’s concern is convenience,” Dimmer said in a phone interview earlier this week. “Fast food has the convenience part down, but there’s no substance there. I want to re-write the idea of fast food in Buffalo, and [seeing the food truck scene flourish] over the last 18 months, I don’t see it going away anytime soon.”
Dimmer and his partner Christian Willmott, who also co-own the Nines Catering Company, are running a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to crowd-source $5,000 to fix up their 1968 truck. We featured their thorough video in an earlier post—it’s worth a look because it gives context for their project.
The duo is will on its way to garnering enough funding—over $3,550 has been donated out of the $5,000 goal with 19 days left. While their goal for a mobile gourmet sandwich truck is close to becoming a reality, the path to the Black Market Food Truck wasn’t that typical—but, as we’ve learned, few things are with food trucks.
Willmott and Dimmer met as students at Canisius High School and became fast friends. They parted ways for college—Willmott to Canisius for pre-law and Dimmer to the University at Buffalo for architecture—but their love for food kept them in touch. Astoria, Pano’s, Ulrich’s and Tandoori’s are just a few of the local restaurants that at least one of the BMFT owners worked at during their school years.
Three and a half years into his architecture degree, however, Dimmer discovered that his calling was in the culinary field. He was more worried about his parents’ response, not so much the difficulty of integrating into the Buffalo food scene.
“I knew I’d get a stern talking to from my parents,” Dimmer admitted. “My dad would have murdered me if I’d gone [to college] for 3.5 years and not earned a degree.”
Both Willmott and Dimmer chose to earn their culinary degrees from the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, then jumped into full-time ownership of the Nines Catering Company while Dimmer held another job with Povinelli Cutlery.
To make their extensive catering menu more accessible, Dimmer and Willmott are planning to include a few outside-the-box options on the truck, including a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. Still, for those hesitant to try pate—which in many cases is chopped goose liver—Dimmer has explored a white bean paste that will be a little more tame for a first-timer.
In regard to the banh mi, Dimmer admits that the versatile pork-and-vegetable stuffed baguette has turned into a passion for him.
“I helped my brother move to New York City,” Dimmer said, “and he introduced me to this hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place that changed my life. We’re really attracted to different regional styles of cooking.”
The duo is also excited to offer several options influenced by their previous restaurant stops, including Dimmer’s curry chicken souvlaki (naan, a coconut curry sauce, lime-cilantro dressing and chicken) inspired by his time at Tandoori’s. There will be overlap with the Nines’ catering menu, but Dimmer noted that there’d always be a different arancini—breaded rice balls—on the truck, and the Buffalo chicken is an expected favorite.
Willmott and Dimmer will release more details as soon as the truck’s renovations are funded. But, as I’m sure you’ve been curious until this point, why the name “Black Market”? Selling banh mi is legal in New York State, right?
“We wanted something that defined us as a place for fresh, homemade foods while highlighting the idea that we’re providing unique food that can’t be found just anywhere,” Dimmer expanded. “Now, we’re certainly miles away from some sort of illegal, underground economy, but we really enjoy the mystery and intrigue often times associated with it. And, of course, there’s the obvious ‘we serve food and the truck is black’ thing, but we like to think it goes a little deeper.”
Regardless of the name’s meaning, you won’t be bored by the Black Market Food Truck’s offerings, as both Willmott and Dimmer sound like students of food.
“I’m constantly learning about new cultures,” Dimmer explained. “For instance, the history of kim chi intrigues me.” The average chef doesn’t necessarily say things like this. Will you delve into the Black Market?
(Header and first photo courtesy of the Black Market Food Truck’s Facebook page, while the last photo of banh mi is from Flickr / TheDeliciousLife.)