The truck first debuted in 2013, after Alex Torres, a Johnson & Wales alum, was laid off as a corporate chef. A few months later, he and his wife Erica bought a black truck and hit the road. Stocked with jerk chicken, rice, and tostones, the two cruised across Miami, serving culinary mashups rooted in culture and tradition.
"I'd been pushing him to do this for a while," Erica says. "This is something that is part of both of our heritages. We took a little from each and created something really different."
"I would cook this kind of food for friends on the weekend," Alex adds, "They'd always say, 'Do it full time,' but it's hard to imagine leaving the comfort of your day job."
Once the Torres' took the plunge, success came quickly. They participated in food truck meetups across South Florida, rolling from Plantation to Haulover Beach and North Bay Village. In their free time, the couple observed food trucks in the Wynwood Yard, figuring out what it would take to land a spot of their own.
"We had our eye on this for a year and a half," Erica says. "We would go all the time, study it, and watch everything. We knew we'd be a perfect fit."
Alex, executive chef of Food Dude, created the menu himself, uniting Jamaican and Latin flavors in dishes like arroz con jerk, where a bed of saffron yellow rice is topped with green peppers, onions, and charred boneless jerk, mojo shredded pork, or jump jerk shrimp; or loaded jerk tostones, an island-inspired interpretation of loaded nachos where deep-fried tostones are garnished with caramelized onions, green peppers, blended cheese, and meat.
Other popular dishes include a Caribbean sloppy joe called a "Sloppy Jose," where shredded mojo pork is served on a toasted bun with green peppers, caramelized onions, and calypso barbecue glaze; and jerk chicken wings, tossed in a house citrus and guava-infused barbecue glaze.
The Food Dude truck is equipped with a grill, allowing Alex to cook meat over an open flame seconds after an order is placed. Most meals average $15.
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With groups of three or four, opt for the Holy Trinity, which includes four calypso spare ribs, four calypso jerk wings, five jumbo jerk shrimp, and a side for $20; or the Last Supper, with adds a serving of mojo pork and a second side for $25.
"We're trying to make food that everyone can enjoy," Alex says. "If you're Jamaican, you can taste those traditional flavors. But if you're from Sweden, you won't necessarily be overwhelmed with them either. It's about tweaking the recipes to make sure everyone wants to eat them."
Food Dude at the Wynwood Yard. 56 NW 29th St., Miami; 754-208-8050; fooddudellc.com. 3 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to late on Friday, noon to late on Saturday, and 2 to 10 p.m. on Sunday.