After the mercury climbed to a warm high of 66 degrees on Friday afternoon, it was only fitting that the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” played in the background as chefs in the GHT Rolling Kitchen worked to prepare dishes like American, Cheddar and Swiss grilled cheese sandwiches and braised beef tacos for waiting customers.
The distinctive tan truck, which in bold letters on its side bills the food served from it as “locally sourced, seasonally inspired” and “deliciously different” has been making its rounds on Stony Brook University’s campus since April 27, parking in front of the Union on Wednesdays and in front of the Javits Lecture Center on all other weekdays. Though it has only recently debuted on school grounds, the truck, which is an arm of Bayport, Long Island’s Grey Horse Tavern, has been in business for two years now as part of a mission that Executive Chef Steve Cardello described as bringing “restaurant quality food to the road.”
“We’ve had a big response, with lots of repeat customers,” Cardello said, referring to the truck’s grand opening on campus. He added that the truck “filled a niche” by meeting university demands for quick, grab-and-go meals.
Cardello, a former two-semester Stony Brook student who transferred to the French Culinary Institute and has been a chef for 15 years, prepared a menu featuring a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos and salads. However, his love for Latin food has led him to include exotic offerings such as “calabaza y frijoles (squash and beans)” tacos and tostones, sliced green plantains that are pounded flat, fried twice until golden brown, then salted.
“I was married in Mexico,” Cardello said. “I love Latin food; I love the freshness, the spice.”
However, customers shouldn’t expect these or any other offerings to become fixtures — the truck features a seasonal menu that changes with the weather, meaning that hearty stew dishes may likely be offered in colder months, while gazpacho, a cold, tomato-based Spanish soup, would be out of the question. Diners should also be bringing their wallets along with their appetites, because for the time being, the truck only accepts cash as the university looks into providing the truck with a meal plan payment option.
But even if they have to pay out of pocket, hungry students and faculty still come to the truck in droves. Paul Ligorski, a senior marine sciences major, has visited twice, and says that the vegetarian options cater to his special diet.
“The condiments are interesting,” Ligorski said, in reference to the bean and cheese taco he was eating.
Freshman applied math and statistics major Basile Galitsis has already eaten there three times.
“I think it’s good and very convenient if you’re traveling,” Galitsis said as he munched on a braised beef taco. “The grilled cheeses are my favorite.”