The Boricua Soul Food Truck is coming to Durham and surrounding areas of North Carolina. Food Truck Proprietor and periodic Clarion Content food writer, Toriano Fredericks, agreed to answer six questions from the Clarion Content about the new truck and the story behind it.
—Can you tell us a little about your background and story, who you are?
My name is Toriano Fredericks and I live here in Durham, North Carolina. I’ve been writing about food since 2009 because I love eating, cooking, and photography.
—How did you get interested in cooking?
I sat back and really started thinking about when I started to become really interested in cooking. As a kid, all I can mainly remember is making hamburgers or boxed mac and cheese when my grandmother was too tired to cook. It’s strange because while I don’t recall having a huge interest in cooking as a kid, I can vividly remember my grandmother cooking and how she prepared certain dishes. Although at the time I didn’t have much interest in physically cooking, I did have an interest in eating so I would hover in the kitchen with an eye on what she was doing.
The food and cooking switch flipped on in college while I attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy. It was the first time I had a chance to travel out of the country. During my sea year as a cadet on a container ship and car carrier, as soon as the gangway hit the dock we were let loose in a new place with new flavors and spices. A line I once read on some admissions literature for my school read “the world is our playground.” I found it extremely cheesy at the time but it couldn’t have been truer, before I graduated college, I had a chance to experience flavors of Puerto Rico, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, England, Germany, Belgium, and Holland.
After graduation and during the years I have spent sailing and visiting a number of other countries I was motivated to start a blog about food and travel. Each country opened my eyes to something new about food. With each trip I couldn’t wait to get home and try to reproduce something I tasted.
—Why a food truck?
A food truck because it’s one of the lower capital heavy ways to break into the industry. As much as I would love to some day open a restaurant, I understand I have lot to learn about the industry. The thing I love about food trucks is the ability to stay connected with the customers and the community. Customers can look into the truck, see us and talk and learn who we are. I am not removed in the kitchen sending plates of food out, never being able to interact with my diners.
The Triangle and the nation are going crazy for trucks. We are starting to see them in places they could not be found just a few years ago.
Durham because I can easily say the past few years living in this city have been the most creative in my life in regards to [my] writing, photography, and culinary pursuits. The only thing I can attribute it to is I have put myself or ended up around a group of highly motivated, creative, and successful people while living here. It has caused me to see different possibilities and push myself creatively. That’s why I want this try to echo what we find cool about Durham.
—Why are you into gardening? How did that come to be?
We initially just liked the idea of being able to go into our yard and grab the things we like to cook with. It started as wanting to avoid going to the store and buying a bunch of basil or rosemary only to have the rest go bad. When we had Devin [his young son], we felt it was important to show him that things that we can eat don’t just appear in a grocery store aisle. He likes the process of watering and watching the plants grow.
—What is it going to be like to settle down and not have to ship out to sea periodically?
The end goal of starting this business is to be able to come home someday and not have to head to sea for months at a time to support my family. I have spent most of my adult life at sea. It’s a great career and has given me the opportunity to see the world and taste foods from places I would have only imagined otherwise, but as my son gets older leaving gets harder, and we realize that the money gained isn’t as valuable than the time spent at sea. I felt now is the time to start trying to make the transition and turn my passion into something bigger. The full transition to a point where I do not have to go to sea may not happen within a year, or even two, but the time has come to start trying.
The Boricua Soul has already made it’s Kickstarter Fundraising Goal with nine days to go, but is looking to get better and better.