Chefs open Asian-Cuban food cart
Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 05:09
Although it may resemble a New York City hot dog stand the new cart planted outside of Purnell offers healthy Asian-Cuban cuisine from two college friends who each have more than 20 years of culinary experience.
Michael Blovad and John Pudil, co-owners and operators of The Cart at UD, cook food in a traditional food cart and have drawn attention from curious students since opening Aug. 30.
Blovad said their mostly gluten-free, stir-fried menu shows that healthy food can be delicious.
"We would like students to realize that you can have really, really good tasting food and it can be good for you to," Blovad said. "All of the food that's on here is very, very healthy."
The menu changes daily, and includes items such as teriyaki chicken withsushi rice, Korean beef barbeque with sushi rice and kimchee, black beans and Spanish rice and chicken or pork dumpling as appetizers.
Because of city-imposed restrictions, the sizes of the cart and menu selection were limited. For example, the cart only offers one kind of drink with its meals. Each $6 meal comes with a small cup of cold of tea, sweetened with natural sugar. He said he does not approve of sodas like Coke or Pepsi, and students can buy them elsewhere on campus.
Blovad said he was one of ten vendors who applied for the two permits available from the city earlier this year. The representative from the university he spoke with, said he would have to offer food that was different.
"The university wanted an interesting menu," Blovad said.
Blovad and Pudil met during their first day at the Culinary Institute of America. Both had culinary jobs around the country, but discussed starting a project over the years. Both chefs said they wanted to stop working in a corporate setting and have the ability to make their own food.
"We discussed years ago that if the opportunity came along to do something together, we would like to," Blovad said. "This is the perfect opportunity to have John working with me. We wanted to do something not working for somebody, but doing our own thing."
Blovad left his job as chef supervisor in the premier catering division at the Meadowlands Stadium and Pudil moved from Seattle, where he was an executive chef at a golf club. Both now live in Bear, Del. where they prepare their food according to Blovad.
He said the food he cooks on his cart has a personal connection to him.
"This is what I cook my children, this is what I eat myself," he said. "When you work for somebody else you're restricted. And after 23 years, I felt that I really should be doing more of my own food."
Pudil said he enjoys working on the cart because he has more freedom to cook what he wants.
"We're doing our own food as opposed to a menu that somebody else has set for us," he said. "It just gives us a lot more creativity to use all our culinary skills."
He said he enjoys being located on a college campus and interacting with college students.
"Everybody here is really super-nice," he said. "It's refreshing dealing with college kids. At the golf course people were really opinionated. Here everybody is really open to different and new foods."
Some students have said the cart's location is convenient for picking up food between classes. Senior Andrew Collins and stopped by the cart for the first time Thursday after spotting it while in the area. Collins said the cart was an unexpected surprise and an alternative to nearby food marts in the area.
"I think it's interesting having a cart over here, I didn't expect anything over here," Collins said. "I think it's a good little break, it's a good quick stop coming here instead of going to Smith and getting food real quickly."
Freshman Davy Yockey, said the cart was convenient for students who lived on west campus dormitories.
"It's cool, it's right there, by your classes," Yockey said. "As soon as you walk out, you're hungry, you get a quick meal, go back to your dorm."
Bennie Dollard, a vendor on Main Street located in front of the 5 & 10 Store, said he understands the challenges of running a food stand.
"I wish them well in the business," Dollard said.
Although the cart is new, he said it has not obtained a consistent following yet.
"We're still trying to figure out exactly where our niche is," Blovad said.