Vendor Gallery: Nadia DeMessa

Nadia DeMessa, the owner of a new gourmet cupcake company making the rounds in a cute trailer, bakes all her cupcakes from scratch using the best of ingredients.

She describes herself as “a wife and mother of three boys” who was born in Jamaica and grew up in a family in the baking business. She originally went to college for marine biology but became a successful custom cake designer. “I have been decorating cakes for the past six years and last year decided to add cupcakes to the menu. I saw how they were becoming very popular and then I noticed the cupcake trucks up north and thought what a good idea.”

DeMessa found a used trailer and “customized it to become a concession unit.” She is fully licensed and has her city of Atlanta vehicle permit. Soon, she will hit the road and set up a few stops to sell the cupcakes from a mobile she affectionately calls Pinkie. Yum Yum Cupcake does not have a store front, but you can find them at most of the local festivals and special events around metro Atlanta.

We caught up with Pinkie at the latest Urban Picnic at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and, although we only tried two flavors (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Red Velvet), we can see that DeMessa’s fluffy and delicate product is in a class of its own, having mastered the trick of making the cake and the icing similarly yielding and delicious.

For street vending, DeMessa has to fully package her cupcakes, but at events, she liberates the little marvels and exposes them in their full glory.

Follow Yum Yum Cupcake on Facebook and Twitter to find out where Pinkie the cupcake mobile will be and try as many of the flavors (a total of twenty-five) as humanly possible!

Vendor Gallery: Grace’s Goodness

This is the story of two ladies starting a local business from the ground up with a borrowed truck and “pennies to their name.”

Brittany “Grace” Shiver, founder, and Laura Feuillebois, creative director, are working to bring a southern “farm to truck” concept to life, with honest, super-fresh treats. “The food we offer has only been through the farmer’s hands, and the hands of Grace’s Goodness,” they write.

Brittany Grace was raised “on hoecakes and collard greens in the backwoods of North Florida and South Georgia.” After what she calls her “uncoordinated stint at the largest microbrewery and organic inspired restaurant in the Southeast,” she is working on a masters in applied linguistics and English as a Second Language. She loves food and people equally. Her favorite foods include heirloom tomatoes and olive oil.

Laura is the product of a French father and a southern mother, who fostered her love affair with butter. After living in Paris, her two passions were fully realized: great food and art. She has spent the past few years working at art museums in Colorado and Atlanta. She speaks Pig Latin, Yiddish, and French.  Her favorite foods include cheese and baguette.

Grace’s Goodness made its debut at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market with a tiny table and offerings such as watermelon tomato salad with organic heirloom tomatoes, jicama, Greenleaf Farm lime basil, citrus juice, cayenne pepper, and sea salt; Vietnamese wraps filled with rice noodles, Love is Love Farm cucumbers and tri-colored peppers, basil, cilantro, and mint with a side of hoisin sauce on a bed of mixed herbs from Greenleaf Farm; Pearson Farms peaches with a chilled cream consisting of a blend of Atlanta Fresh crème fraiche and Atlanta Fresh vanilla caramel Greek yogurt. The pimento cheese served with H & F Co. toast points (some pumpernickel and some brioche) is a recipe Grace’s mom has used for years and includes cream cheese, sharp cheddar, mayo, pimentos, fresh ground black pepper, and sea salt.

The menu will change often to reflect the seasons. Next month, for example, they are thinking of doing figs with Riverview Farm bacon as well as local corn off the cob with fresh churned butter, parsley, and sea salt.

[last three photos by Daniel Stabler]

Vendor Gallery: Myke Rockenstyre

Myke Rockenstyre, who is currently a “sous-chef on call” for the Omni in CNN Center and an experienced caterer, started cooking when he was a seven-year-old growing up in New York around Latino food prepared by his mother who is from Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Well over twenty years working his way up from pizzeria shop to Korean buffets, TGIFs, the Glatt Kosher Yacht, and finally his own catering firm called International Cuisine by Chef Myke Rock, which “did some gigs for Pataki’s reelection,” haven’t blunted Rockenstyre’s passion for the food of his childhood.

He now lives in Atlanta with his wife, who is  from Bogota, Colombia, and their sixteen-year-old son, who has been helping him in his endeavors “since he was in diapers” and is All American in his football team, the Collins Hill Eagles. Rockenstyre describes himself as “half Spanish and half jaja (American),” and he would love to own  “a good Latin bistro where the best of all Latin favorites are served–one from each country.”

Check out the thick, fabulous arepas de choclo (sweet corn cakes with cheese) and plump empanadas he recently prepared on a griddle at the Urban Picnic in front of the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and catch him at upcoming Atlanta Soccer Fest (atlantasoccerfest.org) on June 12 in Cabbagetown Park.

“I will be serving empanadas y arepas de chocol; also Tacos al Carbon de Pollo y Carne Asada,  Tacos de Tofu for my vegetarian friends and nachos de queso blanco.”

The day’s festivities will include broadcasting the Argentina vs Nigeria and USA vs Britain games on 9×12-foot LED Screens.

Far Out Food in the ATL: the Yumbii truck

Carson Young’s bold new food truck, designed with the help of Chris Stalcup (the one with the brown shirt on the right), promises to be “fun, inviting, and digital to the core.”

Chef Tomas Lee of Hankook Taqueria supplies the expertise for the Korean, Mexican & Southern mashup and the fresh gourmet tacos
The “complete digital experience” includes an always-on wireless network wrapped around the truck.

Be among the first to try this fully local hot new concept! You can begin by following them on twitter.

Vendor Gallery: Matt Hinton of West End Burritos

Matt Hinton

In the last ten years, Matt Hinton has been a theology professor, a dealer in architectural antiques, a pressman for his wife’s letterpress print shop, a carpenter, a photographer, a guitar player,  a video editor, a guy who drove the carts that go “beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep” at the airport, and, most recently, a filmmaker and a record producer/label owner.

Hinton went to Tortillas for the first time when he was a student at Georgia State University, sometime in the early 1990s. “It and Frijoleros were the first burritos of their kind that I ever had,” Hinton writes, “though I had always loved Mexican food (one of my earliest gustatorial memories, apart from huge meals at my grandmothers’ houses, was the El Toro in the very seedy Georgian Motel on Buford highway, which was established in the same year that I was: 1974).The blend of tastiness and seediness of Tortillas was deeply fulfilling to me from the outset. It was a DIY operation–like the Little Rascals had opened a restaurant, and if you went in the back room, you were liable to see Pete the dog powering the whole ramshackle affair by chasing a rabbit while on a treadmill. Or maybe the Bad News Bears. Anyway, theirs were clearly the best burritos that have ever been sold in Atlanta.”

West End Burritos sign

Last year, when Morehouse College reduced the hours of adjunct professors, his included, Hinton set himself a goal: he would recreate the menu of Tortillas, the famous restaurant on Ponce de Leon whose burritos still loomed big in his mind, and start a delivery business. “First, it was just friends, ” he says, “then friends of friends.” Now,  he has no idea who his customers are.

By trial and error, he was able to reproduce the exact same product we all loved. The big flour tortillas contain the right amount of cheese, beans, and seasonings. The two salsas are completely convincing. The burrito is insanely juicy yet  doesn’t leak. Perfect digestion ensues. Eaten the next day, the burrito is still magnificent, in a denser way.

Steaming burritos

Screening his documentary about Sacred Harp singing (recently aired around the country on PBS) in such cities as New York, Chicago, Portland, Louisville, and Los Angeles, Hinton discovered food-truck culture. His participation in the latest Sweet Auburn Curb Market Urban Picnic, where he steamed his tortillas on racks balanced on big pots of boiling water, showed what a man can do in a brilliantly improvised set-up.

You will find Matt Hinton and his delivery schedule on Facebook. If you live within a couple of miles of his weekly trajectory between West End and Decatur, you can order enough burritos on Monday to last you through the week and live another day to hope for his next appearance on the street.

West End Burritos

[photos by Vené Franco]