The Purple Truck Has Landed
Written by Matt Zarba
Saturday, 21 March 2009 04:33
We’re barreling down the Claiborne overpass in a single-door purple monstrosity with only one seat meant for the driver. There are no other seats in the vehicle and smoke is pouring through the windows. This isn’t an action movie and the smoke is scrumptiously aromatic. I’m on the Que-Crawl with truck manager Micah Burns and we’re headed to Tipitina’s to cater to drunken bellies at the Galactic New Year’s Eve show.
There are already hungry patrons wanting to be fed as soon as we arrive, but this is no nachos and hot-dogs operation. The food has been prepped from scratch the day of the show and the process involved prior to opening is no small feat. Once the vegetables have been cut, the four-eye burner turned on, and the deep-fryer brought to the desired 375 degrees, it's time to turn this unabashedly purple courier truck into a giant purple people feeder.
The Que-Crawl is the brainchild of Nathaniel, a New Orleans transplant hailing from Hillsborough, North Carolina. Nathaniel worked as sous chef at the Bank Café prior to hurricane Katrina and was flooded with the inspiration for the “purple people feeder” when he realized how many workers would be in New Orleans with little to no options for a quick and energizing lunch.
Originally, Nathaniel wanted to bring his version of North Carolina Bar-B-Que to New Orleans to feed the demands for on-site catering for construction workers. Unfortunately, the workers preferred hot dogs and hamburgers and only wanted to pay for them in peanuts. One site’s loss was another site’s gain, however, when Sean Mahaffey, brother of Tipitina’s bartender Heather Mahaffey, pitched the idea of setting up the truck outside of the Uptown music staple and allowing concert revelers to soak up the suds with a pulled pork po-boy or twelve-hour roast-beef sandwich.
People love Nathanial and Micah’s cordial yet offensively friendly way of dealing with the type of patrons that walk outside of Tipitina’s and come banging on the purple-truck, frothing at the mouth for those roast-beef sandwiches that have been painstakingly smoked in New Orleans’ Rum barrels. The Que-crawl is now almost as synonymous with Tips as the bust of Professor Longhair at the front entrance.
Due to the mobility of the Que-Crawl, Nathaniel is able to set up shop at various film and commercial shoot locations, and eliminating mundane deli trays and macaroni and cheese. His list of pleased palettes include high-end eaters like Jeff Bridges, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears to name a few. Que-Crawl are also the front-runners for catering the New Orleans set for the mini-series Treme, the most recent project of The Wire creator David Simon.
So if you happened to be part of the masses lined up in droves to see Trombone Shorty’s "Orleans Avenue" on Bacchus night, I hope you realized that there was an equally important line nearby, The Que Crawl’s. Ask Micah for a Brisket po-boy with a side of home-style fries and tell him to “put some cheese on that shit.” You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
You can also catch the Que-Crawl at Mimi’s in the Marigny on most Mondays.
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