by Steven Doyle
I sat down recently with Eric Hansen and Robert Carter who together just started a new food truck business called Not Just Q. Curious name, but certainly we could assume they are doing BBQ and plenty more. These are both interesting fellows, with different backgrounds and personalities that seem to make it work.
Eric Hansen is classically trained at Cordon Bleu and hails from the Kansas City area. Eric has worked at restaurants and been in the business since he was 11 years old. Being from Kansas City that means pork shoulders, ribs and plenty of sauce to soak up the meat. Robert Carter has a background in psychology and worked with children. It was after many sleepless nights that he abandoned his life’s work for the restaurant industry. He lists a series of high profile BBQ legends including Big Al’s, Eddie Deen and most recently Mike Anderson.
Let’s chat with the boys and see how they came to start their first food truck, and what they will be doing with their new set of wheels.
Crave: Good afternoon, guys. How did you happen to get together to start this truck business?
Robert: I had been working for Mike Anderson the past few years, and when he had an accident last summer I was running the business. Last October Eric and I started talking about doing this business. It turned out to be a good conversation, and not just about ‘cue.
Crave: You did this bacon wrapped quail and bacon wrapped jalapeno that I really love at Anderson’s, will you be reprising that with your business?
Robert: I had a high end catering business in the past where I did those items. The jalapeno’s are filled with bleu cheese, brisket, cilantro, and a little bit of green onion.
Crave: You guys haven’t necessarily had an easy ride getting your truck in operation.
Eric: We searched for the perfect truck for a while an finally found one online down in Miami. I went down to Miami and saw it needed some work, and a few things added. I paid the money to have the work done, and what was supposed to be done in three weeks was more like two and a half months. When the truck was finally delivered e noticed a quarter of the work was done that we paid for, and were missing things off the truck like propane tanks that weren’t secured and flew off the back of the truck on I20. We ended up taking the truck to Cruising Kitchens down in San Antonio, and the truck was basically finished in a week. Great guys and the work is quality.
Crave: As far as food goes, you are not just going to be doing BBQ as your name suggests.
Eric: We will do anything as far as high end BBQ goes, not your average BBQ. We are going to be able to d higher end meats, game meats. We will also be able to do Tex Mex, tacos, pozole, elotes and different styles. We will not have to focus just on BBQ, however BBQ will be our staple. Brisket, pulled pork and ribs.
Robert: Because we are in Texas we can do this wonderful blend of Tex Mex and BBQ. It is easy to do a blend of traditional barbecoa and BBQ and come up with some terrific items.
Crave: When you went after your truck you did a mini tour of Texas BBQ. Talk about that adventure.
Eric: We went to Smitty’s, Kreuz, Black’s, and Salt Lick. I know BBQ is BBQ, and some days are better than others. There were hits and misses here and there, but altogether there was some solid BBQ. We enjoyed it.
Crave: What makes a a good brisket?
Eric: It needs a lot of salt and pepper, and a nice heavy smoke to it. However, you want to still taste the meat. The outside has a slight char to it, like black gold. To me it is like a black sand beach. You will have speckles of the rub sitting underneath that layer that didn’t quite caramelize. The you come to a layer of fat. The fat has two to three different colors to it as well. It will be cooked all the way through, rendered all the way through. Then you get to the best part, the meat. You should have a nice smoke ring, but not always. Sometimes the smoke puts a cap on it.
Robert: We are going to do more Hill Country BBQ. We will be taking off some of the fat and sinew off the base, and giving it a really heavy dusting. Then we will give it a heavy smoke which is a mixture of post oak and hickory. I have seen some people skimp on using the wood, but we want to do double the amount of wood than some people use.
Crave: What smoker are you using?
Robert: It’s an Old Hickory rotisserie model that turns out such great consistency. Fully loaded we can do 500 pounds.
Crave: For me it is not only about the meat, but also great sides.
Eric: We will be doing some nice sides. Most will be made on the smoker. The sides have to be complimentary to the smoke. We will be doing our version of the LBJ salad, BBQ beans with charred brisket, a cheesy corn casserole with green chiles and ham. The beans are cooked right on the pit.
Crave: You won’t necessarily be set up at places like Klyde Warren Park, will you?
Eric: We won’t, but also we can’t. The city of Dallas won’t allow any rotation in the park. It is crazy when people are asking for different trucks but they still have the same trucks every day. But we will focus on catering. We would also like to do the Truck Yard and some events. You know, I know we will be doing some great BBQ out of that truck. it would be nice to be known for having some of the best BBQ and we will work towards that. I expect good things.
Crave: I know you already have some catering gigs booked, but what will be your first appearance to the pubic where we can walk up and sample your food?
Robert: We definitely are working towards the catering business, but we will do festivals and other events. We will come out when a business calls us for lunches. Our first public event is probably May the 10th at Trees.
Crave: We wish you the very best, guys.