Talking with Chef/Owner Jerry Asker of Funkadelic Food Truck
1. Tell us about Funkadelic Food Truck.
Funkadelic Food Truck offers a whole new style and experience while eating from a mobile food establishment. At first glance, you can definitely predict that we are not your typical food truck. From our hand painted funky design on the truck to the sweet tunes of Funk Music playing from the mounted speakers, Funkadelic Food Truck offers a variety of food options for everyone to enjoy at an affordable price. Our menu spreads from a juicy burger to Togarashi Seared Ahi Tuna. All our food will be prepared fresh from scratch, every day.
2. What interested you in starting a food truck?
I grew up in my family's restaurant, Jerry’s Sports Grille, located on Atlantic and Hodges. I wanted to branch out to create a menu with my own flair and style. I originally wanted to have a restaurant but my mom and my fiancé encouraged me to look into a food truck. When I saw how food trucks were taking off that convinced me to switch to launching a truck. I’m really into music, art, and food and a food truck gave me the opportunity to support all the things I love.
3. What was your role at your family restaurant?
For the past 8 years, I have been responsible for ordering supplies, managing the kitchen, and cooking on the line. Throughout all the different positions I engaged in, I enjoyed cooking on the grill and creating nightly specials the most.
4. Are you bringing over recipes from Jerry’s to your truck?
The only item on The Funkadelic Food Truck that is similar to Jerry’s Grille is the Prime Rib Sandwich.
5. How did you come up with your recipes?
I created the menu myself although not everything I selected to be on the menu is a completely original idea. A lot of what I’ve come up with has been by me researching on the internet looking at different menus and seeing what other food trucks around the country were doing. I would play around with the recipes I liked, changing them up and bringing my own style. Having a family restaurant gave me the liberty to do whatever creative things I wanted. I’m not sure I would have been able to do the same things working for someone else. All in all, I cook what I like and what sounds delicious to me.
6. Did you go to culinary school?
No. We opened our family restaurant 8 years ago and we didn’t have a lot of cooks who were working out so I was forced to really learn how to cook. I’d cooked before at home but never in a restaurant setting. I caught on really fast. I was good at it and I started liking it more and more. I eventually started playing around prepping different specials for the restaurant to see what people liked. Cooking was first a job, then became a hobby, and now is a passion of mine.
7. Can you tell us about a few of your dishes?
The two Ahi tuna dishes are awesome. For the Ahi Tuna Tacos I start with a fried wonton wrapper and wakame salad (seaweed salad). I cut raw tuna into small chunks and toss them in a bit of sesame oil and salt before placing them on the wakame salad. I make my own mango and jicama salsa for a topping, along with a little bit of wasabi aioli and soy caramel sauce. They’re awesome!
8. What’s soy caramel sauce?
I start the process by putting sugar into a few tablespoons of water and boiling it for 5-10 minutes until the sugar caramelizes. As it caramelizes it turns an amber color. For a normal caramel sauce you’d add cream and butter to the mixture, but for my sauce I wait until the mixture caramelizes, then I add soy sauce. It’ll bubble vigorously for a bit and then smooth out to a nice sauce. There aren’t a lot of ingredients in it but it’s delicious.
9. What’s your Togarashi Seared Ahi Tuna dish like?
Togarashi is a 7-spice Japanese seasoning. It has red chili pepper, ground sansho, roasted orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, hemp seed, ground ginger and nori. It is all combined and used as seasoning on the tuna. I then add ponzu slaw, tomato, cucumbers, gorgonzola crumbles, red onion, soy caramel, wasabi aoili and sriracha. Ponzu is a citrus based sauce that’s paired a lot with tuna. I’m sure it may sound like there are a lot of different flavors in this dish, however everything complements each other really well. I’ve made a similar dish at the restaurant and people really liked it. I normally use a simpler combination of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes but for the truck I’ve added to the recipe. The ponzu slaw just sounded good and the cabbage gives it that extra crunch.
10. How did you come up with your 3-meat burger of brisket, short rib and chuck?
Most burgers are all chuck or ground beef so when I saw my supplier offering a 3-meat blend I knew I wanted to incorporate it in our menu to stand out from the rest.
11. Do you have a favorite item on the menu?
I like to make everything on the menu just as good as the next, therefore I cannot say that I have a specific favorite item. Everything is awesome.
12. How did you come up with roasted beet fries as a side?
The Roasted Beet Home Fries are roasted whole in the oven until tender, then peeled, cut and deep fried and served with a togarashi aioli. We choose these as a side because we wanted something a bit healthier than potatoes and different than your typical french fry or sweet potato fry.
13. What do they taste like?
Hmmm..it’s hard to describe. They’re like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. To be honest, I’ve never been a beet fan but they’re so tasty. In the beginning I think they will be a hit from customers who are curious about how they taste, but then repeat orders will come because they're full of flavor and definitely funky!
14. If you’re cooking everything to order, how will you get everything out quickly?
The dishes I made up are fresh and cooked to order but everything can be prepared quickly. For example, the Prime Rib Sandwich is slow roasted Certified Angus Beef that will be quickly heated on the flat top then served with caramelized onions, horsey cream sauce, and melted provolone cheese on a fresh baked hoagie. The Shrimp Sliders only need about a minute to get the golden brown crunch everyone loves. The tuna will be seared rare. The Pulled Pork Sandwich is cooked for 12 hours beforehand. The longest thing to cook will be the Burger or the Sausage Dog. I’ve been working in a pretty fast paced environment at Jerry’s Grille for a while. We do everything from scratch there too, so I’m pretty confident I can pull it off and get things out quickly.
15. Will you be doing catering?
Yes! We’re happy to provide - parties, catering, festivals and everything. People are using food trucks for all sorts of events now, even weddings and receptions. One of the reasons I got a truck instead of a restaurant is that there are so many different things you can do. I’m really big into music so I’ve got a lot of music festivals on my radar. Some of the music festivals can be 4 days long, which can be a little challenging for prep work, but that’s what I’m looking forward to.
16. Why did you decide to make being a chef your career?
I love making people happy. Getting the feedback from someone gives you a good feeling inside. That’s one of the main things I like about cooking - making people feel good and seeing their reaction.
17. Will you do all the cooking on the truck?
No, I’ll have a sous chef working with me. My fiancé, Amanda, will handle bookkeeping, promotions, and work the window on the truck. It’ll be the three of us on the truck for the most part.
18. How did you come up with the idea for the paint job?
We’re working with a local artist, Brian Barnard. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in drawing and painting from FSU. He can be spotted doing murals around Jacksonville. Most of his art comes from concerts and music festivals. He does a lot of live painting during the concert which he sells on site. I didn’t personally come up with the design. I looked at Brian’s work and gave him some ideas of what I wanted, which was to be kind of funky and different, to stand out from the other trucks. Brian came up with 4 or 5 designs that we worked from. I wanted him to show off his art. I didn’t want a lot of food pictures on the truck. We’re a food truck, people know it has food!
19. How did you come up with the name Funkadelic Food Truck?
We wanted something catchy. I love art and Funk music. After what seemed like months of tossing around different ideas, Funkadelic Food Truck seemed to stand out the most. We love it!
20. Have there been any big surprises getting your food truck going?
Honestly, it was easier than I thought. M&R Trailers in Macclenny built out our trailer and they made the whole process incredibly easy. Finding the truck was the hardest thing up until opening day. As always opening day comes with surprises and glitches. Despite our surprises, we pulled through and definitely learned from it all. Thus far we have truly enjoyed each day spent on the truck meeting new people and making customers happy.