Reporting Sara Pelissero
With so many new — and delicious — food trucks hitting the streets of the Twin Cities each summer, it’s almost too tough to keep up. Well, fear not, we’re here to help. Here’s this week’s Friday food truck feature!
All the way from the land down under, we bring you Aussie’s Kebabs — a delightful little truck, cooking up a lot of flavor.
But don’t be fooled — these aren’t shish kebabs and they don’t come on a stick. Instead, Aussie’s is serving doner kebabs, a super delicious combination of lamb meat or chicken, plus fresh vegetables and your choice of a variety of sauces. The recipe comes straight from the traditional doner kebabs found in Australia, where founder Chris Millner traveled to while studying abroad.
The St. Paul native may not be an Aussie himself but says he spent enough time eating doner kebabs to understand the flavors and certainly, the mass appeal.
Let’s meet them, shall we?
Owner: Chris Millner
Date the food truck opened: May of 2012.
What kind of food do you serve? We sell Australian doner kebabs. I’m sure when most Minnesotans think of kebabs, they think of a shish kebab, which is something on a stick, and ours is actually more like a gyro. Doner kebab is the Turkish version of a gyro so the Turkish version is the doner kebab and the Greek version is the gyro. So our sandwiches use the same meat which is found in a gyro, which is that lamb meat and then lettuce, onion and tomatoes and then we have a huge variety of fixings you can put into it as well.
Price range of menu: Each kebab is $7.25, plus tax and then we also offer salads as well and pita chips.
Hours of operation: Typically we’re here on Marquette Avenue during the lunch period, from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., depending on weather. We also are going to start selling at the University of Minnesota on Thursdays.
Job before opening food truck: I haven’t quit my day job yet so I’m still employed as an accountant at a local company here in St. Louis Park. I work at Stahl Construction. They’ve allowed me to kind of take part in this as well, so it’s been great.
What made you want to open a food truck? When I studied abroad, I studied abroad in Australia during my junior year of college and that’s actually when I had my first doner kebabs. They were everywhere — on every store front, every block you could find a kebab shop. They were great and wonderful and we had them pretty much every night. I thought why aren’t these at home. As soon as the food trucks got popular, I thought, ‘Hey, this might be my ticket to being able to actually start this idea.’ And I just went from there.
Why did you want to go into the food industry? I don’t know if I always necessarily wanted to get into food but I knew that once I had these doner kebabs, that it was something easy and something I thought could easily transition over to the states. Everybody’s happy when you can serve them food, so I think just the idea, the low barriers to entry and just the idea of making people happy by serving them food. Everybody’s happy when they have good food. It’s kind of a fun thing.
How is your food made? We’re not recreating anything — we’re just taking what I had in Australia and bringing it here. We make our own hummus and a few of our own sauces, too, but for the most part we’re sticking to the Australian kebabs that I had in Eastern Australia. We have two vertical meats, cooking on vertical broilers. So if you’ve ever go get a gyro, you probably see the big cones that are rotating. We have one that’s chicken and one that’s a lamb-beef mix. Beyond that, we also have lettuce, onion and tomatoes, roast red peppers, olives, cucumbers — a huge variety of vegetables that you can put into the sandwich. Those are actually prepped off-site. Every food truck here in Minneapolis has to belong to a commissary kitchen. We do all our prep work there and then get all ready for the day. And once we get here, everything is on a prep-top table. Like when you go to Subway, everything’s put together and customizable to your liking.
How did you come up with the name? It’s called Aussie’s Kebabs — the kebabs we’re selling are from Australia so Aussie’s, as in Australian.
How did you decide on the menu/theme? It all came from my study abroad trip in college — so don’t let anyone tell you just because you’re studying abroad, you won’t do anything because you never know — you might find an idea that you like and bring it home with you.
What do you think is your best dish? Definitely the doner kebab. You’re probably saying what is a doner kebab — it’s just the lamb-beef meat. I would get the lamb-beef meat. We also make a really good roasted red pepper sauce. Jesse, our kitchen manager and the rest of the staff, put together a great sauce. I mix that with a little garlic chili and it adds a little bit of spicy — it’s really tasty.
Describe your truck in one word: Australian.
What’s your craziest story from working inside a food truck? There’s a lot of interesting people when you’re working on the streets. People watching is really, really fun. You just see crazy things happen, spur of the moment. Also, food trucks are really popular downtown with the customers but not so much the other businesses. It’s interesting to see the games and tactics that the restaurants in the area have pulled. They did a fake window-washing thing one day to keep us off the streets. Just things like that, it’s really interesting to see. I hope the people of Minneapolis enjoy having food trucks around and we can get along with the rest of the restaurants and stay out here.
What’s one thing you want people to know about your food truck? We’re doner kebabs — not shish kebabs. It’s very easily confused. I didn’t know when I was in Australia what a doner kebab was until I tried it. And then I loved them and they’re really good. Just try them — they’re like gyros with a lot more variety.
Catch the Friday Food Truck Feature every week, in the Curiocity column. Know of a food truck you think should be featured? Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting your suggestion to @SaraPelissero!