We had the opportunity to sit down with Marissa and Matt of Boo Coo Roux, a Cajun & Creole food truck based in Chicago, and learn about their journey.
We thought about it for a while and imagined some different scenarios, some in where we would possibly leave Chicago. There was about two years of various research, trips to other cities, getting to know the scene around Chicago, and experimenting with recipes before we decided it was time to go for it. We realized the the food truck scene was growing in Chicago and wanted to jump in before it became oversaturated.
We wanted something fun and kind of crazy without going too overboard or looking like a scene from Bourbon Street. In our heads we imagined a clean and sophisticated look that had an edge to it. We initially wanted the design to be colorful without looking tacky. We never imagined black as being our background color or main color, but when we were presented with it we loved it. Nicole transformed our ideas exactly how we imagined it.
We originally thought of the name Roux, simple yet an important ingredient in one of our main dishes, gumbo. That name was taken, not by another truck but by another Illinois business so we started playing around with how we could still use the word roux in our name. We researched words and found the slang word "boo coo" which comes from the French word "beaucoup" meaning "a lot" and it all came together from there.
Homemade fresh and spicy quality Cajun comfort food with a twist.
We originally considered moving to Colorado in order to open a Chicago-style food truck with dishes like homemade Italian beef and homemade hot dogs and bratwursts. After some research on the industry in Colorado we decided to stay in Chicago and try it here first. We needed to drop the Chicago-style food since there are already so many options (but we still have an amazing Italian beef recipe on the back burner just in case!). From there we thought about the type of food that was lacking in restaurants and especially the food truck scene and we landed on Cajun. Matt and Louis have strong backgrounds in French cooking as well so it really made sense since so many of Cajun dishes incorporate French cooking techniques.
We use the website to advertise our menu as well as catering options. I think the most important feature is keeping an updated menu. Most people want to know what is available if they are going to make the trip to the truck. We don't use the website yet to post our schedule but hope to in the future. Without going into detail, the food truck parking scene is no joke and there are days where it can be hard to know where one will park. We post our locations for lunch both on Facebook and Twitter.
Everything. It's an emotional experience when you own your own business, you become invested in every aspect. However, if I have to pick one area that was the most difficult it was probably the initial startup and build of the truck. It seemed like it would never end despite being organized and doing everything in our power to move things along.
We are not from Louisiana so we were very cautious to pursue this style of cuisine and wanted respect the food while making it our own. This involved a lot of R&D and some trips to New Orleans. That being said, it's an overwhelming success when someone from the region compliments our food. We always create food that we hope pleases the masses but a compliment from a native is always the icing on the cake.
Matt knows the owner of the Fat Shallot from his days at Everest and he was lucky enough to work on the truck. He got to see first-hand what operation on a truck was like. His experience gave him a good foundation of where to begin the process and what to think about. They were and still are a helpful resource. There are so many details to think about with startup like insurance, propane, vendors, food cost, website, design, etc.
It's tough. Any cook or chef in the food industry already understands the demands of that world, and a truck is no exception, especially when you approach it with the intention to create everything from scratch like we do.
The gumbo! We went through many batches and minor changes to come up with a recipe that we feel best represents the dish.
Nicole! Throughout the entire startup process she was one of the best people that we worked with. She never missed a beat. We are still obsessed with the final design and could not be happier. I don’t even think we had to make any changes on the design option that we picked because it was so spot on, in fact we had a hard time picking from the options that she gave us because they all were so great!
June 21, 2016 | BY Nicole LaFave
I've been making my own granola for the last 2-3 weeks. Breakfast is hard for me since I can't have eggs, wheat or dairy, so granola gives me the flexibility to switch it up and load up with delicious things like nuts, almond milk and chia or other nutritious seeds.
The new granola paired with this almond milk has become my new go-to breakfast. I've been using the recipe found in D.I.Y. Delicious and modifying it to my tastes, which have mostly been inspired by the delicious almond milk and granola over at The Mill in San Francisco. Here's what is in my current mixup:
4 cups thick oats
1-1.5 cups sliced almonds
~ 1/4 c. chia seed (visually decided)
3/4 c. raw pumpkin seeds
3/4-1c.unsweetened or juice sweetened corn flakes (for a crunchy texture)
1/3 c finely shredded (unsweetened) coconut
Tip: heat up the honey slightly when you mix it with the oil, add these all together before you mix it in with the dry ingredients. You do not need to heat up the oil & agave.
1tsp cinnamon (or adjust to taste, start with less)
1/2-1 tsp. vanilla (based on your preference)
1/2 c. agave (if you opt for honey, start with
1/3c. and see how it looks)
1/3 c. vegetable oil or butter (I use oil)
Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Be very careful and watch it as you bake the first batch. My oven actually only needed 6 minutes per side, 12 minutes total. I burned the first two batches on accident!
This is an example of the smaller caption-style text.
March 21, 2013 | BY Nicole LaFave
Nerdy little step video of my Babycakes NYC cheese stick experiment from this past February. The recipe is from BabyCakes Covers the Classics. They were delicious.
May 08, 2012 | BY Nicole LaFave
This year was our second year of cooking a Thanksgiving Day meal for ourselves. Jean-Pierre handles the turkey (which he orders from Bi-Rite Market) and I usually handle the sides. We had a friend pop over that was in charge of snacks & brussels sprouts so a few things were missing from my photos, but you can enjoy a quick series of 18 dark & dramatic photos of gluten-free/dairy-free coconut crust pumpkin pie, roasted potatoes, homemade cranberry dressing and delicious turkey & fresh turkey gravy (sans wheat). It's always quite challenging for us to cook a lot of food at once in our kitchen because we lack extra dishes and utensils. It's the one thing in our house we haven't really built up yet, so we keep it simple with a few Le Cruset pans, a few store-bought dorky tin pans and the essentials. We don't even own a salt & pepper shaker believe it or not. On that note, I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I am happy to report that after 4 to 5 leftover meals, I am back to my regularly scheduled mexican food and daily health vices.
November 29, 2011 | BY Nicole LaFave
This recipe for Pumpkin Spice Granola on Baking Bites doesn't mess around. This time around I used a bit of Stevia in place of the brown sugar, but the original is so so good. I made it once last year and finished the entire batch off in less than 48 hours with J-Pierre so bake with caution. Alright, confession: I actually have a serious problem with carbohydrates and more specifically cereal or breakfast-type bars, but even more I love the 'pumpkin spice' time of year. It's the Michigan girl in me that is day dreaming this time of year about fall cider mill trips for cider & donuts with my best friend Jennifer. Every time I eat a few bites I think about my friends and family back home.
September 14, 2011 | BY Nicole LaFave
I was craving something fall-inspired and full of vegetables when I made a version of this Spicy Vegetarian Chili recipe from Joy the Baker's site a few weeks ago. (Thank you Joy!) I am a bit delayed in getting this up, but hopefully those of you that are football, family and/or fall-obsessed can toy around with this now. It was quick, easy and lasted for 3 days for lunch & dinner for the two of us. I think if I make it again I'll like to play with level of spice even more and perhaps go against the grain reducing the beans and adding some turkey or grass fed beef in there. We like it HOT and well, ... this girl likes meat in her chili.
September 13, 2011 | BY Nicole LaFave
In May J-Pierre introduced me to my first Bumble Bar. It was a slow start addiction. I wasn't sold at first. That is until I had the chocolate crisp or the almond flavor. With limited "allowed" items for breakfast, I often work with gluten-free, dairy-free bars, cereals or oatmeal. I've been pretty hooked on the chocolate crisp Bumble Bars since May, and I like to eat mine with peanut butter on it for breakfast. These bars usually hold me over until lunch and the sesame helps promote healthy digestion. This habit is more affordable than some, but adds up over time and had me wondering if I could make something similar at home once in awhile to offset the cost. I don't think I'll truly ever give up the real thing, they are cute & delicious. With all of the problems I have been having with diet limitations, I stick to what works. I used this recipe to try my hand at a homemade chocolate version by substituting both nuts for finely chopped peanuts and vegan chocolate chips. I also added 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa. To my surprise they came out pretty darn close. The slight difference (almond meal?) actually makes them feel a bit more "full" and chewy like a brownie, and this gave me control over how much cane juice (sugar/sweetness) I wanted to add. So, if you haven't had a Bumble Bar, order a box and if you have and like to cook, try making these for fun.
August 01, 2011 | BY Nicole LaFave
Organic fresh produce delivered straight from the farm? Yes please. Today I received my first Farm Fresh To You delivery and can not be more excited. It was magical to find this box early this morning at our house. I went for the Fast Fruit & Vegetable box and my kitchen smells amazing. What goodies did I get you ask? I am about to lay my teeth into some fresh organic melon, peaches, red plums, carrots, broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes/heirloom tomatoes & a few fresh oranges all week long. Moving forward I may lean towards a Valley Box or dare I try a Regular Mix once I test out the waters, but being the fruit fiend that I am, I knew this was a safe pick. Thinking about getting one for yourself? Get yours on their site, but be sure to use my full name as at referral! (I get a free box peeps!)
July 19, 2011 | BY Nicole LaFave
It's berry time! While my blog structure kinks are being worked out, I thought I would share a quick recipe to a delicious berry crumble that I made for J-Pierre's Birthday this past Saturday. (Happy Birthday to my favorite). I have a series of photos for this recipe to post eventually, but in the meantime you can find in here via Knuckle Salad to start using up your summer berries. Dariy-free or gluten free? My tip: Use gluten-free oats, naked all coconut ice cream and a vegan butter substitute. Cheers.
June 28, 2011 | BY Nicole LaFave
I'm not really a juice master, but I wish I was. I aspire to be a juice master. It makes you feel great, and it's delicious. Well, at least I think so. This week I have been reading The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth and was inspired to work a spin of new vegetables into my "usual" which consisted of cucumber, celery, parsley, apple & spinach. J-Pierre keeps finding glasses around the house that almost indicate that someone was murdered close by, but relax, ... it's just my beets. I am not a fan of beets AT ALL. I can't eat them no matter how hard I try. (they taste like dirt I swear) My new spin on my juice has involved experiments with added spunks like lemon and ginger, or beets and carrots. So far so good and it's nice to have a different color juice for a change. I wonder how how many colors I can create? Red, purple, green – piece of cake. Blue? Now there's a challenge. Only time will tell.
June 23, 2011 | BY Nicole LaFave
The Test: Namaste Foods, Say Cheez Gluten & Dairy Free Mac & Cheese In lieu of my elimination diet for the past 5 weeks, I ran to Whole Foods to pick up some rice pasta and ran into a new section of gluten-free dairy-free mac & cheese options. I took a gamble as odd as it sounded. I mean, pretend "cheese" in mac & cheese just sounds wrong. The result: Success. Granted I haven't had real cheese or pasta with wheat in awhile, the fake stuff did the trick.
December 15, 2010 | BY Nicole LaFave
All I could do was laugh when I came across these fantastic Click oven mitts. Get them here! Great gift idea for that computer geek of yours.
April 23, 2010 | BY Nicole LaFave
Cute for the kitchen. Fruit-shaped natural kitchen scrubbers.
April 06, 2010 | BY Nicole LaFave
I eat this a lot at Whole Foods lately, and I came across this recipe today after just saying to myself at yesterday's lunch that I needed to learn how to make this myself. It's on the to-do list for spring. Mustard & Sage's recipe for Chana Masala & Garlic Naan.
March 03, 2010 | BY Nicole LaFave