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!
Jean Hutar says she was “destined to live the restaurant life.” Her family helped start her passion early on at their locally owned restaurant, where she quickly graduated from hostess to breakfast line cook — the place she honed the skills she still utilizes today.
As owner of the new food truck Butcher Salt, Hutar opted to leave the safe and secure behind to finally do what she loved — and so far, it’s been more than she ever dreamed it could be.
“I love getting up every day and going to work,” she said. “I don’t care if my alarm goes off at 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s like, ‘Yes! I get to run my food truck today.’ It’s a beautiful thing.”
She’s taking the food she loved growing up and putting a twist on it, hoping to spread her passion for food to anyone who visits. Every ounce of Butcher Salt has a story — from the color of the truck to the menu items she serves. And if you stop by, you’ll find Hutar with a big smile and bubbly personality, ready to tell you all about it.
With that, let’s meet Butcher Salt.
Owner: Jean Hutar
Date the food truck opened: Feb. 12
What kind of food do you serve? I would say it’s American cuisine. I’ve worked in restaurants my whole life — I started as a line cook. It’s all of my favorites from growing up. It’s the stuffed hashbrowns, the sliders, the fun hot dogs — instead of just ketchup and mustard, now it’s sauteed peppers and onions and pepperjack cheese. It’s putting a twist on things I’ve been eating my whole life.
Price range of menu: From about $5-$9.
Hours of operation: Check their website, twitter or Facebook page for schedules (see above). But typically, they serve lunch, plus a few brewery events and more.
You say you were destined to go into the food industry. Tell us a little about your history in the biz. My parents owned a couple of restaurants as I was growing up. The first one, I was in elementary school in Eveleth. And then they bought Vertin’s in Ely. So I worked there all the way from seventh grade to my second year of junior college. And then when I went to college, I went for sports management at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and instead of working at YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs, I worked at restaurants. … If you had a cooking job and you’re in college, you probably got to eat for free so that kind of worked out really well. I was applying for Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs and I saw an ad for Chipotle and I thought it was really creative and witty and I’m like, they’ve got great benefits. I applied to one restaurant place and I got hired. I had no idea it was going to be a career — but it was like 10 years that I spent there. It was beautiful and fun but I thought, why not open up my own (place)?
What was your motivation to do a food truck? My motivation was, I guess, just the culture is so fun down here. I was thinking of doing like a breakfast joint, a brick-and-mortar, and then I thought, well, that’s not really realistic. The food truck scene is just so much fun and the experiences I’ve had with everybody from MidNord Empanada and Hibachi and Hola Arepa, just everybody down here. They’re just so fun. It fits my personality. I felt like I’d fit right in and I did.
How is the food prepared? I would say like, 90 percent of it is made-to-order. The creme brule we make beforehand and the caramels, as well. But otherwise we’re cooking to order.
How did you come up with the name? Interesting. I think I built my food truck backwards so the name was one of the last things, the outside of the truck is one of the last things. The interior was almost done before I had the exterior planned. We went through a bunch of random names, like Bad Habit, Gotta Have It and my last name is Hutar and my nickname is Hootie and everyone was like, “Hootie’s!” And I was like, no. We went through the process of just looking at places so we went to like, Crate and Barrel and just looked at names of utensils and I thought about my favorite utensils to use. And there was this box of Butcher Salt, which has rosemary, sage, thyme and marjoram infused with sea salt. I bought it, made hashbrowns with it, made a burger with it and I was hooked. And I was like, can we do Butcher Salt as a name because this is just my new favorite seasoning. And the answer is, yes. So we had to go through this whole thing of how do we make a logo for Butcher Salt where your first thing isn’t like, meat, cleaver, a butcher shop. So that’s where we went with the cutting board with the knife on it and sea salt, plus herbs. When you see the truck, “Inspired Street Eats” is right at the top.
What’s your best dish that you serve? Or what’s the most popular? That’s kind of like asking who my favorite kid is. I would say the most popular dish is probably the sliders. The sliders and Rangers or the Butcher Salted Browns. But Caprese is coming in. Stuffed Hashbrowns have surprised me — they’ve just like taken off. It’s this huge meal of hashbrowns with sauteed peppers, onions, bacon, more hashbrowns, pepperjack cheese, more of that stuff and then this fried egg, so it’s a healthy, healthy portion of hashbrowns. I love how much the public has enjoyed them because they’re a lot of fun to make and I grew up making them as a line cook.
Describe your truck in one word: Passion.
Have you had any crazy stories from working inside a food truck yet? No crazy stories yet but I’m sure that they’ll be some. Two stories come to mind — the first, we were working at the Crashed Ice event in St. Paul with the Heavy Metal food truck — the Motley Crews guys are awesome — and it was bitter cold. And here, one of my employees and I are standing in here, freezing cold, we can see our breath and they’re over there, they have the window on, they have lawn chairs in there. And I’m like, ‘I didn’t even know you could do that.’ And they were like, ‘OK Jean, this is what you have to do. Come over and warm up and then we’ll show you how to put a window on.’ That was the last day we froze our butts off.
The other one, the thing I was most nervous about was parallel parking. So I have front and rear cameras on this thing. And the first time we went out, we were in St. Paul. We found a spot … I’m a really good parallel parker, I’d like to say, in a normal car … so two turns and we’re in the spot, perfectly. And then I opened the door and the window was on the wrong side of the road and I was on a one way.
What’s one thing you want people to know about this food truck? That it’s delicious and made with love. I own this. I’m not working for anybody else and I have my friends on it. I don’t want to start a restaurant in the future, I’d love to have a few more trucks and spread them around the country or Minnesota. But it’s just a beautiful place to be. I want everyone to walk away with a smile on their face and happy taste buds. And happy to go tell their friends about Butcher Salt.
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!