Mobile Magnifique: Tucker Duke’s Hits The Road


The Tucker Duke

In 1872, Walter Scott parked his covered wagon with windows he cut out himself outside a Providence, Rhode Island newspaper office and sold coffee, sandwiches, and slices of pie to journalists and the late-shift staff. Little did he know his little “lunch wagon,” a term used for early food trucks, would spawn the modern-day diner.

Today, myriad top chefs are opting for transient kitchens which aren’t beholden to set locations or fixed schedules. Inside these well-equipped, 12-foot by 7-foot spaces, some of the country’s leading culinaires are putting a fresh spin on nomadic-style cuisine, serving menus dotted with sentimental and culturally parabolic fare and popular crowd-pleasers from their own brick and mortar venue(s).

This year, chef Brian Cartenuto launched his Tucker Duke’s food truck, serving nostalgic staples like his namesake cheeseburgers at breweries and cultural happenings around South Florida. The Niceville, Florida toque, who worked at the now-shuttered Dean & DeLuca‘s in Washington, D.C. and trained under ribald, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, is no stranger to creating exemplary cuisine in pint-sized spaces and under intense pressure. He twice-battled his way to victory on the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and appeared on chef Bobby Flay’s popular food competition, Stars & Stripes. Here, he shares the secrets of movable feasts.

Brian Cartenuto
Chef Brian Cartenuto

Photo Credit: Tawni Eakman

Food you serve: Craft burgers and blue-plate specials—economically priced dishes that change daily—with a Southern twist

Food truck versus restaurant menu: Very similar; not as many snacks on the truck

Most popular dish: The Tucker Duke burger

Scratch offerings: All our sauces are homemade, including ketchup and the Tucker Duke’s sauce.

Food truck GPS: We focus on the breweries and beer bars between West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale that don’t serve food. Follow our Facebook page for food truck event info. On Saturday, Sept. 23, we’ll be at 26° Brewing Company‘s second anniversary party in Pompano Beach.

Food truck toque: It’s either me, my brother Christopher, or my business partner John Cortes

Success secrets: Always exercise the same level of quality, speed, and consistency regardless if the kitchen’s stationary or mobile.

The Myla

Favorite part of the business: Seeing happy faces eating our food

Least favorite part of the business: Staffing, food preparation, ordering, and scheduling can be a logistical nightmare

Biggest challenge: Feeding the masses at large events. The truck can only hold so much food and fit so much staff at one time.

Advice for future food truckers: Go in with the mindset that there’s going to be a lot of hard work, but it’ll be rewarding in the end.

Biggest faux pas: First time I ever drove the food truck, I forgot what side the service window was on and parked the wrong way. That was my “oh (expletive)” moment.

Future projects: My business partners and I are planning to open a new restaurant in Boca Raton called Union Twenty Seven with M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom’s co-owner and executive chef George Patti. We’re also scouting locations for a new Tucker Duke’s and a space in Miami that’s built from shipping containers.