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 food truck feature!
The man behind the Twin Cities’ first Afro-Italian fusion food truck has a story unlike any other.
Chef Teddy, as he’s known, fled his war-torn country of Ethiopia as a young man, seeking refuge in Djibouti. In order to earn a living, he relied on the recipes and techniques instilled in him from watching his mother and began cooking in order to survive.
Those skills transformed into a true talent and soon, he was climbing the culinary ladder working in Cairo, Stockholm and New York. Thankfully, for us, he decided to settle in Minnesota to open a food truck that combined his two passions. The outcome is enormous flavor and highly delicious ingredients unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.
Still, he never forgets where he came from and vows to give back to his former community whenever possible.
Here’s more on Chef Teddy and his Cave Cafe.
Owner: Tewodros Negash, aka: “Chef Teddy”
Date the food truck opened: July of 2011.
What kind of food do you serve? We serve east African-Italian fusion food. Sandwiches, curry, wraps, etc.
Price range of menu: Between $7 to $11.
Hours of operation: Now we’re just serving lunch but after July, we’ll be serving dinner. (Stay tuned!)
What was your job before opening the food truck? I delivered. I used to work as a private caterer.
What made you want to open a food truck? It was easy to go to the customer. Restaurants were too expensive and had too many overhead costs with the down payment. My next goal is going to be a restaurant. With food trucks, you know exactly how the customer responds, if they like it or not. It’s a wonderful experience.
What made you want to get into the food business in the first place? I survived to go from one place to another place (because of cooking). My friends didn’t have that kind of talent to get out. I was able to get jobs and people who would hire me wherever I went, from country to country. I wanted to become a professional.
How is the food prepared? Everything is freshly prepared from the truck. We saute in front of you. It’s made to order.
How did you decide on the menu? It was my vision. I combined Italian dishes and east African dishes to fit the food truck. The customer in an office building wants something quick. In a restaurant, you have to have wine, it has to be sit down, so that’s why I did the menu like that. I’m from Eritrea, an Italian colony so I was really influenced by Italian dishes.
How did you come up with the name? When I was a teenager, I used to hang out at a place called the Cave Cafe. I used to go there a lot. I liked the place. It’s easy to remember. The Cave Cafe.
What’s your favorite dish that you serve? To be honest, the chicken wrap with the cawlo sauce and the chicken curry and the Derho Tibsie.
Describe your truck in one word: For me, this truck is a miracle. In the future, I hope to help east African kids. I’m hoping this October. I did it before but (people) didn’t know the food or the name. But this year, I’m planning to donate 20 percent of my revenue to a world relief food program to help save east African kids in October. That’s really what I want to do.
What’s your craziest story from working at a food truck? (Laughs) When you tweet about specials, I tried to tweet, “We have specials today,” and I tried to tweet we had a chicken special but instead of “chicken,” I posted “children.” So one customer called me and said, “I’ll have one special — the children special.”
What’s one thing you want people to know about your food truck? I’m not only selling the food. I want to tell people about where I come from and tell them about the traditional food, the traditional tibsie derho. When I explain where I come from, that’s the best part of owning a food truck. Also, come and check us out in October. Come and support me. I don’t ask anybody for money but just come and try out some good food and I’ll donate 20 percent of the revenue to East Africa.
Catch the 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!