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“People always say to me, why don’t you serve bananas in your crepes,” Mich Pavel, owner of Olympic Valley-based food truck Hot & Healthy Creperie, said. He explained that he serves only organic and locally sourced ingredients from his truck, and that bananas — while admittedly delicious on crepes — are hard to source locally.
The popularity of the food truck has grown exponentially over the past decade, and it seems people are selling just about anything out of their mobile kitchens. In 2015 the industry brought in $1.2 billion in revenue for the estimated 4,000 trucks in the country according to an IBISWorld report.
Pavel was born in Carnelian Bay and raised at the Squaw Valley Stables in Olympic Valley. Sick of working behind a computer five days a week Pavel decided it was time to switch it up. He bought the food truck in 2012 from Tom and Josette Richards who now own Truckee’s new frozen yogurt shop, Sierra Swirl. He combined ingenuity with the cooking experience he had picked up at Mamasake, Mountain Magic Catering, and what he learned growing up cooking with his mom.
“Before I owned the truck there weren’t nearly as many healthy, organic ingredients,” Pavel said of the cart, of which he is the third owner.
Today, the creperie’s menu features a plethora of fully organic meats and produce sourced from local farmer’s markets, Produce Plus, and Niman Ranch. Their menu is consistent, but offers specials throughout the summer depending on what is in season. Some of them — like the BST, Cherry Bomb, and Papa Grande — were so popular that Pavel decided to add them full time.
Moving forward, Pavel hopes to add more vegetarian and vegan options to the menu. As of now, he does have a gluten free option, the buckwheat crepe, but because it’s more labor intensive to make, it’s only on the truck’s secret menu, available for those who know to ask.
It’s not just his ingredients that Pavel sources locally. The Hot & Healthy Creperie truck recently started carrying local pro snowboarder Ralph Backstrom’s newest venture, Pacific Crest Nitro Coffee. Nitro coffee is infused with nitrogen gas, making it taste creamier and richer than your typical iced coffee. Imagine a freshly poured Guinness — you’re picturing a nitro coffee.
Pavel also carries kombucha from Folk Brewing Co., a fermented tea company based in South Lake Tahoe, and operated by Reno chef Brett Kendall and Doug Baehr, owner of Uncommon Kitchen.
All beverages are served in reusable stainless steel cups in an effort to reduce waste. Each cup’s use requires a deposit so they can be washed and reused for the next customer. Extremely conscious of the environment, Pavel believes eco-cups to be part of the problem in creating more waste than benefit. “Those cups are bullshit,” he said. “It’s a facade.”
When he’s not folding crepes, Pavel is the organizer of special events at the oh-so-popular wedding and events venue Squaw Valley Stables. He is also a DJ.
Pavel wasn’t shy to list the difficulties of running a food truck, not to mention one that is trying to produce as little waste as possible, and was quick to say the Truckee/Tahoe area could benefit from a space devoted entirely to parking food trucks.
“We need a commercial area for these trucks,” Pavel said.
This trend is being seen throughout the country. Bend, Oreg. for example, has The Lot — an area entirely devoted to five food carts and 16 taps with an outdoor heated, covered seating structure including tables, heated benches, and a fire pit.
Hot & Healthy Creperie isn’t the only food truck in town. But unfortunately, many of the trucks that started in the Tahoe-area — like Electric Blue Elephant and Starkey’s Food Truck — spend most of their time in Reno because of the larger market. But, regardless of whether these trucks spend most of their time in Reno or Truckee/Tahoe, the food truck scene is alive and well in the Basin.
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Soul Kitchen dishes out one-of-a-kind recipes from Tahoe locals. Read about Tahoe Truckee’s local food culture, get a roundup review of local venues, catch a new recipe, and find out what's in season.
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