Behind the Window: A Day on Julian’s Omnibus
Folks throughout Rhode Island enjoy the delicious eats from our local food trucks with the creativity and quality they pack into such small operations. Everyone has their favorites, but many don't know the challenges and struggles of what goes on behind the scenes, or how rewarding and fun it can be. I recently had the opportunity to do a large catering event at the SVF Foundation Visitors Day in Newport, Rhode Island, on the Omnibus, owned by Providence restaurant, Julian’s. It showed me what really goes into a busy day on the other side of the window.
5:00 am | Prep
We have been prepping for this event the past two days with some other local chefs, and today is the big day! We are expecting over 1,700 people at the SVF Foundation (SVF), or Swiss Village as the locals call it, so we arrive to the main restaurant early to finish prepping some items and to make sure everything is packed in the refrigeration trucks.
6:30 am | On the Rhode
Doughnuts and coffee in hand, Chef Jimmy James from Great Northern BBQ and I jump in the fully packed refrigerator truck (which will supply the Omnibus) and make our way down to the event site in Newport.
7:30 am | Arrival
We arrive at Swiss Village as the sun climbing in the sky over the beautiful 45-acre historic property. The gate opens up to let us in. We are the only caterer at the event. The Omnibus is already parked, and we’re quick to get the refrigerators stocked, fryers roaring and flat top sizzling.
9:00 am | Breakfast
The first few visitors begin to trickle in. People find their way into the main event area where there are different information stands, sustainable farming speakers and the Omnibus. The main focus of Visitors Day is to inform the public of what goes on at SVF with its heirloom breeds of chickens, goats, pigs, cows and other heritage livestock. Working with Chef JT from Laughing Gorilla Catering and Chef Marty Lyons from Julian’s, we start the day with a two-item breakfast menu.
11:00 am | Lunch Rush
With no buffer time between menus, we switch over from the relatively simple breakfast to a seven item menu featuring all SVF-raised meat, such as SVF beef hamburgers, whiskey-cola pulled pork and smoked Jagerwurst with other accompanying sides. The three of us start working as one unit to finish cooking the items, assemble the dishes, garnish and not bump heads before serving it out to customers. It is a dance of aromas, heat and intense focus, all to the beat of the orders coming in.
2:00 pm | Rain
The lunch rush is over and the crowds start to dwindle when the rain picks up, but it doesn’t stop the heat and intensity of the small mobile kitchen. We keep going until everyone, including the event volunteers, are all fed.
5:30 p.m. | Heading for Home
Once the last of the visitors depart, we are ready to pack up the last of the unused food to the refrigerated trucks and clean everything down in the Omnibus. Finally on the road back to Providence, I reflect on my experience working with the team of talented chefs and getting to work with all the delicious local food. Though I’ve only been in the food service industry a few short years, I can tell it takes a lot of skill and personality behind the scenes to really make a food truck shine.