Huckleberry Hospitality Food Truck Opens in North Austin
A chat with the sustainable seafood po’boy purveyors
By Jessi Cape,
5:16PM, Wed. Jun. 10, 2020
The food truck branch of Huckleberry Hospitality, a local full-service events and catering company specializing in seafood, announced that they are officially open for business starting this Saturday, June 13 at noon at Circle Brewing (2340-B Braker Lane).
Their Instagram post says Circle will have their Fanny Pack Kolsch available and mentions upcoming specials like Korean hot fish sandwich, oyster socials, in addition to their regular menu featuring Gulf Coast ingredients that are sustainably-sourced from local farms, ranches, and coastal waters. Menu items include a seafood platter, po’boys with shrimp, oyster, or fried green tomatoes and lemon caper remoulade, and specials like ceviche and chips, shrimp salad, caviar fries, and “u peel ‘em” shrimp. They’re also a James Beard Smart Catch Supporter and recipients of the 2019 Austin Food & Wine Alliance "Alamo Gives" Grant.
Huckleberry Hospitality was launched in March 2019 by Davis Turner and Melinda Y. “Reese.” After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Austin, Davis travelled globally until accepting the sous chef position at The Granary (San Antonio), before working with both Aaron Franklin and Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo). Reese is an event producer with more than a decade of experience. The pair launched Huckleberry Hospitality in March of 2019. We chatted with Reese about the opening.
Austin Chronicle: Tell us about the process you've been through getting ready to open.
Melinda Y. "Reese": [We’re] on a mission to broaden Austin's palate while at the same time helping us be more thoughtful about what we eat. We believe our food philosophy makes us unique, maintaining a strong emphasis on coastal cuisine and the sustainable sourcing of our ingredients. Deciding to leap into entrepreneurship was a big step. There were many obstacles along the way to getting our concept off the ground. For example, we all know businesses require capital to launch. Even when the economy was booming, we, like most new companies, faced difficulty getting loans from banks. We learned the limitations in access to capital. We also had a collective experience for restaurants and the service industry. We, like so many others, have put everything we have on the line to launch our business.
As COVID-19 began to shutter cities and communities across America, we retooled for the unexpected. Within days, we started to produce and deliver meals. In these challenging times, we are trying to focus our efforts on feeding the most vulnerable Austinites and keeping our essential workers on the frontlines. Good food is our weapon in this fight and our way of fueling nurses, doctors, and critical staff, to help our city be resilient during this pandemic.
AC: Tell us about your seafood – sourcing and recipe inspiration, etc.
MR: Sourcing of our seafood is a vital part of our mission and tightly woven into the fabric of our operations. We leverage best practices from farm to table sourcing of our ingredients and apply many of those same techniques to sourcing our seafood ingredients. We ask lots of questions such as where is this item being fished, how is it caught, how is it held and cared for when it hits the boat, how long is that fish out of the water before it goes to dock, then how is it brought here, how long did it take to get here. We operate knowing our purveyors and of who the fisherman/vessel that caught our fish. Our premise was simple: If you can know who the farmers or ranchers are that provide you with sustainable ingredients, then there is no reason we can not take those same best practices to the ocean and know the source of your seafood.
Our recipes have derived from memories of what we ate growing up as kids, and we fuse those dishes with new ingredients such as seafood or new techniques such as live fire to create delicious, inspired versions. Because we sustainably source our ingredients, our menus are seasonal and naturally evolve to current conditions.
AC: Seafood isn't a huge focus yet in Austin, sadly, so it's very exciting to have a new option. Why is coastal cuisine so important to Austin and people's diets in general?
MR: My partner and I grew up on the Gulf Coast, and our love of seafood came at an early age for us. Living in Austin, seafood options were limited. Moreover, there was a lack of sustainably sourced seafood options in Austin. As seafood consumers and ocean lovers ourselves, we recognized the need for a better alternative.
Making ethically and sustainably sourced seafood choices is one of the most important ways that you can contribute to a healthier you and healthier oceans. Almost 80% of seafood consumers believe it's essential for their health and to keep our planet protected for future generations. The problem most people have described to us is that the path to making sustainable seafood choices is not a clear one. Huckleberry is dedicated to sustainably sourcing our ingredients to deliver better quality coastal cuisine to Austin as well as continue to advocate to help shape the supply and demand of seafood.
AC: Anything else you'd like our readers to know?
MR: Good things take time. Anything worth having takes hard work and dedication.[Editor's note: We corrected the spelling of Melinda Y. Reese's name.]