Article & Photos By Esther Rubio-Sheffrey
Due any day, the newborn will be Dave and Kari Richâ€™s second child. Their first born, Food Farm, is their food truck. Not yet a year old, Food Farm has taught the Richs to be patient. Not only are they selling delicious food, they are selling a lifestyle.
A professional chef, with over 10 years of fine dining experience, Kari focuses on healthy and eco-consciousÂ ways of cooking. â€œI use a lot of fine dining techniques in the sauces, and how I utilize ingredients creatively and in their entirety. Like using random vegetable scraps to make a veggie stock for the chili, itâ€™s all in the little things,â€ she said. â€œEverything we do is raw and the produce and meats are local. We are about 95% organic because I am a sucker for things like Hawaiian bread, but we really try to highlight something seasonal and wonderful, like Iâ€™ll do something with corn in early September.â€
While Kari has the gourmet background and culinary skills, Dave brings a lively sense of humor to the table and handles most of the non-food related items. â€œWorking together is terrible, we hate it,â€ he jokes. â€œWe really get along. We each have our own responsibilities. We do not micro manage each other, and we learned to fight early on. She wins the food related fights, and I win the others because I have a wonderful logical brain.â€
To say that Dave is a fan of Kariâ€™s cooking is an understatement. He has nothing but praise for her techniques, but does take credit for suggesting the fried items and generally anything unhealthy for you that makes it on the menu. â€œI wanted to name our first born French Fry Bacon,â€ he said. Naturally, Kari vetoed that one.
Their local, sustainable and eco-friendly concept is also evident in the smaller details, like the recycled cardboard trays and tissue paper they use to serve food. They also add a nice modern touch with their iPad and its card-processing app., which is convenient for those who do not carry cash.
Although their menu changes slightly with the seasons, Kari maintains a few staple items to keep returning customers happy. In keeping with tradition, we ordered the most popular and regular menu items â€“ The Grass-fed Sliders, Avocado Melt, and Soyrizo (Soy Chorizo) Chili Fries. Other options included a Tangerine Salad and a seasonal Tomato Tart.
The two sliders ($7) feature grass-fed beef. Although usually more tender, most people cannot taste the difference between grass-fed and non, but the trend is gaining momentum. Industry standards in most ranches are considered cruel, unnatural, and harmful to the environment. Cows, injected with synthetic hormones, feed on grains while packed into pastures laden with weed killers and fertilizers. Grass-fed beef is worth the extra cost because it is not.
Kari slaps together two beef patties and serves them on Hawaiian rolls, then tops them with blue cheese, mustard marinated onions, and mixed greens. Not a mustard fan, my husband requested his without, but opted to have them on the side when Dave called the mustard seeds subtle and the onions a key ingredient of the overall taste. â€œWe started keeping a tally when different people kept coming back and saying they couldnâ€™t stop dreaming about our sliders,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a big compliment.â€
The blue cheese was a bit intense, and did not hold too well melted over the beef; still, not a crumb went uneaten. It was good, just not a personal favorite. The Avocado Melt ($6.50) features Swiss cheese and creamy California avocados in between toasted whole-wheat smeared with an arugula pesto. The flavors blended well. I did wish a bit of butter had been lathered on the outside before pressing the sandwich, but the greaseless factor was refreshing. You can also add crispy smoked bacon for an additional $1.
Fries have been a part of every food truck experience I have chronicled. Each serving has been unique but Food Farmâ€™s Soyrizo Chili Fries ($6) were delicious, and the best so far. The sharable portion of thin and crispy fries comes smothered in a bean and soyrizo chili, topped with cheddar, tomato chunks, and cilantro. Best of all, it tastes like the kind of midnight snack you can have without the morning after guilt.
The entire meal actually felt healthy. We did not feel stuffed, simply satisfied. Paired with two rounds of happy hour craft beer specials from Thrusters, it felt like a gourmet treat without any of the pretentiousness. â€œStone Brewing Company has really good dark beers that pair amazingly well with the sliders,â€ Kari suggested. â€œBallast Point has a good light ale too that is tasty with the avocado melt.â€
On most Fridays, Food Farm parks out front of Thrusters Lounge in Pacific Beach (4633 Mission Blvd). Their favorite location though is the farmerâ€™s market. â€œWe can point to the growers whose food we use. Some farmers even bring our orders to the market and weâ€™ll cook the stuff that day,â€ Kari said. To track down their treats, check out their website or follow them on Twitter (@foodfarmsd).