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 Mac-UR-Roni.
It’s dinner time in a Midwestern home. A boy looks down at his plate and he’s disappointed he’s forced to eat the green food. A smile takes over his face as he peers over to his favorite food, macaroni and cheese. Knowing he has to finish his plate before leaving the table, an idea is conveived here. The young boy grabs a spoon and pushes over the macaroni fusing the vegetables and the macaroni and cheese. Viola! Dinner is a lot more enjoyable. Roll the clock forward a few years and we have Scott Freiermuth’s food truck, Mac-UR-Roni.
I remember when I first heard Mac-UR-Roni was announced back in 2013. The first words out of my mouth, “wait, there isn’t one out there already?” The concept seems simple. But when you look at Mac-UR-Roni’s menu, you begin to see complexity. Your taste buds begin to calculate the exponential possibilities of choices.
How did Mac-UR-Roni start?
Scott’s culinary background started informally back when he was a cook at a local swim club. His food experience continued on, however, he ended up making a career in Accounting. Armed with a Finance Degree he took a job as a Corporate Controller for a manufacturing company.
The job didn’t move him. And soon his wife could tell it wasn’t his passion either. Then she made a suggestion. Scott liked to cook, so she suggested he enter formal education into culinary school to fine tune things. So he entered the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham and began the fine tuning. While he was pretty comfortable with the cooking techniques, what he learned in school was ingredients. He learned about what they are and how to cook them. After finishing school, he took a job at an Italian restaurant.
He took at job in the restaurant, because he wanted to open his own restaurant. As accountants are bred to do, they look at opportunities and calculate costs and risks. Working under an established business, he could see the operations without risk. As he experienced the restaurants cycles, he started to look at the feasibility of opening a restaurant on his own. Through his analysis he identify the risks and the costs involved. His conclusion, he decided a food truck seemed more appropriate.
However, what concept would he use? The area already had sandwiches and tacos. After reviewing the Triangle’s food truck roster, the childhood favorite popped in his head: a macaroni truck. Once the concept was decided, he decided the truck needed a name. He reached out on his personal Facebook page looking for suggestions. It was Katie Westerman, a high school friend, who suggested the name and tag line “How Do You Like Your Roni Mac’d?”
What makes Mac-Ur-Roni special…
First, most of the cheese used is from Cultured Cow, locally-made in South Durham. Both the Sharp Cheddar and Colby Jack in the three-cheese blend are from Cultured Cow (in case you wondered, the third cheese is Pepper Jack). In addition to the two cheeses, Cultured Cow is used for the smoked gouda and smoked cheddar. Next, he enjoys using local beer. While many like to cook with wine, Scott enjoys cooking with beer. When the recipe calls for beer, he chooses Deep River Brewing (Clayton, NC). He usually has a shift at the brewery once a month, which helps save an additional drive from his base in Durham when he needs more beer. Together, these are anchors in his local focus to his menu.
What is your personal favorite?
The Big Dave. He really enjoys the chili, which is his grandfather’s recipe, and for added heat fresh jalapeños. It’s been awhile since my last Big Dave. Now that I know it uses a family recipe, I need to revisit!
And the fans?
The Homewrecker. From my observation, I too can vouch that this Buffalo Chicken and blue cheese combination is very popular. I particularly like this one for the chicken’s slight heat and the blue cheese’s distinct flavors. I usually buy two tubs of Mac and one is usually a Homewrecker. By the way, I can’t finish two tubs, but macaroni and cheese is always great leftover.
Are you ever going to run out of ingredients?
Scott is always finding new combinations. This visit debuted the Farmer’s Daughter, a macaroni and cheese special with pot roast on top. I hadn’t noticed it before, but did not realize it was the first day. If you like pot roast or rich, savory beef it went really well with the macaroni and cheese. Typically, I don’t like entrees that are over the top with beef flavor. But together, it felt right like a nice fall dinner in a country cottage.
One way you can tell a new ingredient has made the menu, it will be in a special. Scott found if he just added a menu item as an Add in, guests didn’t gravitate toward it. For instance, Herb Chicken seemed like something guests would want. It sat on the menu. He created a special around it, now people will create custom ronis with it. He learned a costly lesson later when he added Braised Short Rib. The meat was cooked so well, it just pulled off the bone. He ended up tossing inventory, because guests didn’t order it. Added to a special, it sold out!
One request he has been getting is an old school, what people loved as a child, beefaroni.
Will the restaurant idea resurface?
According to Scott, “banks usually need two years of financials before making a lending decision.” Mac-UR-Roni has been around since 2013, so the first opportunity could happen next year. But, that’s only if he had everything together.
How to find Mac-UR-Roni