One of the great advantages of food trucks is that owners are on the truck daily. This brings a tight bond between the owner and their hungry patrons. Since many of us only get that small time between ordering and grabbing our food, I wanted to help bring us together. That’s when I got the idea, Behind The Wheel. Gets me back to telling the story and further enjoying – being around food trucks. This week I highlight KocinA.
There is just something about Latin cuisine. Just the thought of sweet plantains and mojo (mo-ho) bring nostalgia to me. I’m not Latin by birth. But growing up in the Gateway to Latin and South America, you develop tastes of the cuisine. I remember the first time seeing yucca and empanadas, when I’d sleepover at a childhood friend’s house. I’m sure if I mentioned to my parents I was eating this they’d ask, “where’s my son?” (when I was young, I was a picky eater).
As my hometown community desired Latin cuisine to be more accessible, more restaurant concepts began to cater more toward it. But alas, I am not there anymore, home is the Triangle. So when I first heard of KocinA, I thought to myself I can’t wait to relive those moments. For me, it was a chance to eat a Greatest Hits of Hometown favorites.
Chef JP Murica is a well experienced chef and known in Durham simply as Chef JP. Locally, he’s worked at Duke Hospital, IBM, and the Latin Quarters. But some of the really interesting and cool stuff is his work at large events like Tennis’ US Open, PGA events like Pinehurst, and a chef at Super Bowl XXXVIII (Houston).
Why did you get in the food truck business?
JP is Colombian and he wanted an opportunity to highlight his regional cuisine. Working in the corporate side, he was apprehensive branching out and going on his own. For one, will the restaurant be ready for South American cuisine? What about the business side? His focus had been on catering for a good part of his career, these unknowns were barriers for entry. After working at Latin Quarters, he left with clarity and relieved of some of these barriers. With a trailer for sale in Boone that was right for his food truck model, he bought it.
Though the apprehension still lingered. A new child in the family, the food truck dream became real. Though he’s got an enthusiastic team of Tim, a musician who builds food trucks on the side, and Isaiah supporting him on the trailer. The food truck’s cuisine focuses on what JP calls, “Chino-Latino” a Latin-Asian fusion concept.
KocinA was this misspelled intentionally?
Cocina means kitchen in Spanish. However, JP personalizes the name by changing the C to a K and capitalizing the A. The significance: his two daughters Kendall and Anna Sophia, arranged oldest to youngest.
What about the food?
The food has a fresh taste to it. For instance, the tostones (green plantains) are fresh, cut, flattened, fried, then topped with garlic. JP was quick to note these aren’t frozen. Sweet Plantains are more my palette, but you can taste the freshness of KocinA’s tostones.
I had the pork arepa and at first bite you can taste the smoker used in the pork. Mixed with all the flavors it reminded me of Latin BBQ. Thankfully the arepa was stuffed with pork that it spilled, where I got to relive the flavors after finishing the cornbread patty.
Lastly, the emapanadas are hand rolled. Doubters can see the emapandas laid out in Facebook Page pictures posted.
I know you just started, but anything new you want to add to the menu?
Tacos (which he had on special at Gizmo BrewWorks) as JP mentioned it is very popular and people have asked for them. Cuban Sandwich, which he also had on special at Gizmo, but wasn’t the traditional one. It was similar to a burger with radishes, tomatoes, onions, avocado, mustard, mayo, and fries on top. One thing you’ll notice is every item has levels of flavor.
Want to follow them?
* Chef JP was featured on HOLA NC, FOX 50’s local programming catering to the Hispanic and Latino community. Here’s a link to the episode he was in.