Larry Abney grew up cooking alongside his mother in the kitchen, but he didn’t consider becoming a professional chef until after college. “Growing up I worked on a ranch and we would all go to a nice restaurant with the owner. It was the nicest restaurant in town, an Italian place,” chef Abney said. In the kitchen of the fanciest restaurant in his small hometown, chef Abney found his calling in the culinary world working first as a prep cook.
Chef Abney attended culinary school and brought food to life from kitchens in Washington DC, New York and Aspen before planting his roots in Lake Tahoe, where he saw a need for healthy food that was fast, easy and had bold flavor; and thus, Red Truck was born.
Red Truck operates a café inside the Truckee Tahoe Airport serving up delicious breakfast and lunch options, as well as a food truck that you can find at local events like Truckee Thursdays, or rent out for private events.
“Red Truck food is an eclectic mix of Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine with a healthy Tahoe twist. People around here want to get outdoors, they’re athletes, they care about their bodies; I want to give people food that they are happy to eat and feel good about afterward,” chef Abney said.
Chef Abney developed the Red Truck menu paying close attention to how ingredients are sourced. Red Truck works closely with the Tahoe Food Hub, Hole in One Ranch and other nearby farms, using responsibly sourced, organic foods. Chef Abney said his original vision for the food truck was to stick to an Asian-fusion menu but after working through logistics they decided the best way to pack a punch was by bringing a healthy twist to Indian-inspired cuisine.
“We want to give people food that is fast, easy and healthy, with big, bold flavors,” the chef said. To get into the mind of a chef, one is likely interested in hearing what their bar-none, food of choice is. In chef Abney’s case, he said if forced to eat only one thing for the rest of his days, it would have to be pasta.
“I’m going to go with pasta because it spans so much; Italian or homemade noodles in general. But pasta could also mean Szechuan, an Italian dish with truffles, even a German dish – I’m going with pasta,” he said.
For the home cook who could use a pro-tip, chef Abney says everyone should buy an immersion circulator to enhance flavor with a sous vide technique.
“It’s super precise, they cook whatever you want to a perfect temperature. You could have the cheapest meat, chuck for example, put it in the bag with herbs, put the bag in the water and set it to 140 degrees, leave it for 72 hours and it will taste better than any prime rib because it’s cooked absolutely perfectly and you don’t cook off any of the flavors during the process – it all stays in the bag,” he explained.
Immersion circulators are more affordable than ever and make cooking gourmet dishes at home a breeze, you can even program it with an app right from your smartphone – what a time to be alive in the kitchen.
Sweet or Savory?: Savory
Favorite Fruit?: Peach
Favorite Protein?: Duck
Favorite Healthy Snack?: Hummus, right now.
Favorite Indulgence?: Foie Gras
What’s one dish you could make blindfolded, with one arm tied behind your back?: Red Truck’s food!
Can you tell us about a cooking disaster in your career?: I worked in this organic bakery when I was younger and one of the things I had to do was load loaves of bread into the oven. There would be a rack that had 60 loaves on it and I’d load it in. Well, I loaded that 60, then another 60 on top of that, and then another 60 on top of that and pushed all of the bread to the back of the oven…we fixed it, but the problem was I made that same mistake another time. I was baking full time and a night chef full time then, so I guess you could say I was tired.
What is one of your cooking inventions?: Making samosas with a pasta roller.
For people on the go who don’t want to sacrifice wholesome ingredients or flavor, Red Truck is the perfect breakfast or lunchtime option.
Breakfast favorites include their delicious, moist quiche with a delicious flaky crust (every day Red Truck whips up a new quiche flavor), a breakfast bowl with quinoa, eggs, veggies, hash brown potato and yogurt tahini sauce, fresh muffins and croissants prepared daily, and breakfast sandwiches or burritos built to your liking.
For lunch, Red Truck brings amazing Indian-inspired flavors to life with healthy preparation methods. Stop in or order to-go their delicious tacos, quiche, soup, burritos, bowls, naan creations in sandwiches or hot-dog style, deli sandwiches, salads and more.
The menu is so diverse you won’t grow tired of the Red Truck menu anytime soon – everything offers powerful, yet well-balanced flavors and will leave you satisfied with wholesome ingredients.
The Pork Belly Bánh Mì is their most popular sandwich, and for good reason. The balance of sweet, salt and heat is elevated with the crunchy carrot and daikon topping and chef Abney was kind enough to share the recipe so we can try to recreate it at home.
As chef Abney said, the people who live and visit North Lake Tahoe are health-conscious, hard-working people who care about their bodies and want fuel for the day that won’t hold them back.
Red Truck’s team is a well-oiled machine, everyone works hand-in-hand to deliver the kind of service you would expect to find at your hometown diner. Everyone is welcomed and treated like family for as much or as little time they have to spare on a lunch break.
Catching the Red Truck food truck at local events is an exciting time; you can’t miss it from its bright red paint job to the delicious smelling dishes they’re preparing, inside.