On Friday night, the members of local "dirty sex rock" band Flexx Bronco debuted a new food truck, Voodoo Van, serving up recipes inspired by their music tours. The black revamped taco truck, marked with a big skull and the motto: "No forks, No knives, No mercy," offered up fried green beans, fried potato-cream cheese balls with pickled onions, and seitan sandwiches with slaw. We sat down with band member-cum-food truck entrepreneur Phil Stefani to ask him why on earth he decided to do this, and how he plans to feed hungry crowds at music venues all over the Bay. See the truck in the heat of Friday night action in the gallery above, and check Facebook or Twitter to learn where the Voodoo Van will show up next.
What prompted you to start a food truck? I love this question cause people are always saying to me "Dude I had no idea you were into cooking?" And I'm always like "I'm not, I don't cook buuut my friends do." And thats the truth. I'm a wizard with a microwave. Being in a touring rock band, as well as a bartender, I love love love street food or late night food on the go. I love touring. I love traveling. I can't stand that static feeling of standing still. I always wanted to open a bar or venue, but the thought of "location, location, location" frightens the shit out of me.
I come from a very punk rock, DIY background and I have always veiwed these food trucks as kind of a wild wild West. It's us against them (brick n' mortars, The City, permitting process, rent). I like that I can design the Cosmic American Voodoo Van like a band would design an album or shirt, and that I can use my knowledge of marketing a band and apply it to something else—in this case, kind-of-gourmet street food. I get to work, move around and experience something new everyday. Fuck it, we'll come to you!
Who's running it? I am the owner-operator, but I run it with the help of my two friends Kevin aka "Guy Thunderbird" also from Flexx Bronco and Seth Stowaway who is an awesome cook. Both musicians, both awesome and both handsome!!!
Tell me about your band. Flexx Bronco has been around for almost ten years, and we are still very misunderstood in the Bay Area, and thats fine. I've grown to accept it. The rest of America and Europe seems to get it though [laughing]. Flexx Bronco is your basic fun, rock and roll band with a punk rock heart. SF is just way too obsessed with soft indie dance music—"scene" bands—and that makes us stick out like a sore thumb. We get lots of attention from time to time cause people get sick of the hipster racket. SF just doesnt do dangerous very well. We pack our shows don't get me wrong. We were voted Best Punk Band and Best Rock Band two years in a row by the Guardian and SF Weekly reader polls. There is a lot of substance in our songs that seems to get overshadowed by our energy or our awesome hair [laughing]. I'm not really sure.
Does music inspire your food? Again, I don't cook, but if I had to ask Seth or Kevin, I would think that they would say "Yes food is an art also...or fuck no, this is just something else we are good at." I know that music inspires my attitude towards just about everything I do, and perhaps The Voodoo Van is IGGY POP on wheels hopefully tearing thru the hearts, stomachs and palates of hungry drunk people and foodies everywhere.
Tell me about your food. The Voodoo Van motto is "No Forks, No Knives, No Mercy." This is street food. You eat it with your hands. You are gonna get messy. As far as the food we call it "Cosmic American Cuisine," and yes that is inspired by Graham Parsons and Joshua Tree.
Kevin and I both have "Cosmic American" tattoos and we really view ourselves as such. We love the desert. The menu is really inspired by our travels, and how America is really just comprised of the rest of the world. When you taste the food you will recognize so many different influences, something from everywhere. I don't want to go into a long discription about everything, but I am proud to say that we make everything ourselves: all the dressings, aioli and marinades. Our bread is an out -of-this-world ciabatta roll made by Luis [Villavelazquez] at La Victoria in the Mission. This is American food, but with a ton of suprises, especially the fried mashed potato balls.
What are your plans for the truck in the future? I would really like to build our following with the music venues and night time crowds however. If Off the Grid, or any of the other large food truck meet up's wanted to feature us, that would be great. I have already been around with Flexx Bronco, and I know we have to prove ourselves first before anybody is going to take us on. I have full faith The Voodoo Van's food will speak for itself and we are really going to turn some heads with our attitude, image and style.
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