Three years ago Joe Carson was working as a business consultant for ADP in Westchester while his significant other Kathy Welte was working with autistic children in the Northern Valley School District in Bergen County. Today, they run Off The Hook Food Truck, based in Warwick, at Pennings Farm Market and are busier than ever.
This wasn't what retirement was supposed to look like but the two admit they're having a blast. After doing this on the side -- they started the business in August 2015 -- they quit their jobs one year ago and have been at it full-time ever since. This, despite moving to Florida (they snowbird and live in Orange half the year).
Carson, a self-taught chef who calls himself the "Chief Chowdah Head" (he's from Massachusetts originally), said he was regularly the one on the grill or on the steamer cooking up seafood specialties. Growing up fishing and eating lobster, he always had an affinity towards this kind of food. After seeing what was going on in the food truck world, he thought he could do better.
Three years in, it's hard to keep up with demand. In their first year of business, the two did about eight events. Now, they do 35 from June until mid-October and are very selective about where they go. Mainly you'll find them at food festivals in Orange, Dutchess and Bergen Counties.
"We like to do events that cater around wine, beer and food," said Carson."We can make our fish and chips with a local brewery's beer or linguine and clam sauce with a local winery's Pinot Grigio.
"We're more about catering to foodies."
As for what to expect food wise, Carson prides himself on restaurant quality meals at food truck prices -- think from $6 to $20. Among the top picks: his "Lobstah" rolls served either hot or cold, fish and chips, and a N’awlins Shrimp Po’Boy Hero that he based on one he ate in the Garden District years ago.
The truck is also known for Kathy’s Saucy Clam Bread, linguini and white clam sauce -- without the linguini. Think tons of garlic, white wine, and fresh clams on toasted Italian bread, topped with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Best of all, Carson does what he says no other food truck does: He brings a second vehicle full of food. "So," he says, "When everyone else is out of food, I ‘m still cranking."
Go to www.offthehookfoodtruck.com/ for more information.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.