CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) –
Cleveland is known world-wide for Rock-n-Roll But right now, the drum beat is for Cleveland’s most delectable foods.
The cuisine may be Cajun but it’s the taste of Cleveland these days that’s drawing crowds wherever these food trucks park and serve.
“I’m so torn. I don’t know if I’m to get jambalaya or I’m going to come over here and get curry chicken. Mmmm. I don’t know. I’m going to have to do an eeny meeny minny mo,” said Angela Jones.
Hungry folks gathered in a hurry soon after some food trucks parked at the Red Cross Headquarters for mid-town chow down.
“It’s amazing. I didn’t know what to expect.”
The reputation of Cleveland’s fine foods is spreading across the nation. Peter Waal and crew from The Cooking Channel have been smitten with Cleveland’s cuisine.
“It was like the best meal we’ve ever had in our lives. It was at a restaurant called The Greenhouse. We sat at the chef’s table and they took care of us. It was incredible. The food trucks are amazing,” said The Cooking Channel’s Peter Waal.
Oh yeah, the food trucks are the focus of the Cooking Channel’s show… “Eat Street.” Cleveland is the first stop of a national tour for season three.
“Well, you know we have the best food. People go to sleep on us but this is a great town for food,” said Andrenee Priest.
“I love the fact that Cleveland has let something like this happen. Definitely, getting a lot of spin,” said Aaron Fraley.
Johnny Schulze is living the dream. A few months ago he quit his job, bought a big truck and became a vagabond chef, traveling Northeast Ohio and dishing up fun food wherever he goes. Schulze, 44, is among a growing legion of culinary professionals who are operating food trucks—rolling restaurants that offer everything from tacos to Caesar salad.
Schulze’s specialty is the Cajun and creole dishes he learned to cook growing up in Baton Rouge, La., and later at culinary school in New Orleans. In a former package delivery truck, he and a helper or two churn out restaurant-quality jambalaya, po’ boys, shrimp creole and other Big Easy foods at farmers’ markets, festivals and street fairs in Cleveland and Akron. One of his regular stops is Wednesday evenings just off the square in Wadsworth, where he lives with his wife and two children. That’s where I found him on a recent balmy summer evening.
Shulze landed in Wadsworth after a stint in the military and chef jobs in Connecticut and Nantucket, he tells me. He moved here because his wife, Pamela, was hired as a professor of child development at the University of Akron.
“I just follow her,” he says. “She’s brilliant.”
Schulze was executive chef at Wadsworth’s Galaxy Restaurant for ten years before he quit to follow his own dream.
“I wanted to do this 20 years ago, I just didn’t have the money,” he says as he readies the Zydeco Bistro for business. He opens the rear doors, revealing a $50,000 stainless steel kitchen. The stove and generator are powered by propane.
Life on the road is sweet, Schulze says, noting that the Zydeco Bistro has developed an impressive fan base in the three months he has been in business.
“I’m going to build another one,” he predicts. “It’s only a matter of time.”
Chef Johnny Schulze can be reached at 330-352-2762. The food truck’s schedule is at www.ZydecoBistro.com.
Chef Johnny Schulze from Zydeco Bistro was at the market Tuesday May 31stand he brought his years of cooking Cajun food in New Orleans along with some Ohio flair to his demo. Chef Johnny prepared a wonderful asparagus salad on a bed of field greens. You can find Johnny in Wadsworth or Cleveland serving from his truck or at the Chow Down in C-town in Tremont once a month. He is worth looking for!!
Balsamic Vinegar (4 leaf is wonderful) from the Olive Tap
1 praline cookie crumbled
Fire Brick Pepper from the Spice Hound
Salt from the Spice Hound
Chef Johnny prepped the salad by cleaning and slicing the strawberries and radishes. He then heated up the pan added a little olive oil and the cleaned and trimmed asparagus seasoning them with the salt and pepper from the Spice Hound. While that was cooking he crumbled the praline cookie, assembled the field greens on the plate and mixed the Cajun vinaigrette (Cajun mustard, balsamic and olive oil).
Once roasted to perfection he cut the asparagus into pieces and placed on the plate with the greens, radishes and strawberries. He placed a couple of spoons of chev cheese on top, drizzled the vinaigrette and added the candied walnuts and sprinkled the praline cookie crumbles over top – so yummy!!
Chef John Schulze has found a new home in Twinsburg since his departure from the Galaxy Restaurant in Wadsworth and is working on even bigger plans.
Schulze is getting ready to launch his own mobile food truck called Zydeco Bistro that will serve the Cajun and Creole cuisine of his native Louisiana.
Schulze said he got the idea for a mobile restaurant in 1993, while he was working as a chef’s apprentice in New Orleans and serving in the Louisiana Army National Guard as a combat engineer officer.
”The guard unit I was with was sent on a humanitarian mission to Central America. There, I watched two Army cooks serve approximately 150 soldiers in about an hour and was amazed how efficient and organized they were — the seed for this new business venture began there,” he said.
With the popularity of mobile food trucks, Schulze said he felt now was the time to turn his dream into a reality, so he left the Galaxy to pursue it. He hopes that Zydeco Bistro will be up and running in time for Mardi Gras, and plans to locate his truck primarily in the Cleveland area to start.
For information about his offerings or to contact him about catering, call 330-352-2762.