Orrington resident Jobie Cole dubbed his new mobile kitchen the Rad Food Truck because, to him, on-the-go classics like tacos, hot dogs and other quick and tasty treats are pretty rad.
Rad Food Truck, which operates Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Brewer Auditorium and Fridays at the Holden Farmers Market, is Cole’s first venture on his own, after he worked for more than eight years at Waldo County mainstay Chase’s Daily in Belfast. He opened the truck for the first time in July of this year, with a small, ever-changing menu.
Where Chase’s Daily serves meticulously crafted vegetarian food, however, Cole is all about kicked-up comfort food that is packed with flavor, inspired by one of his culinary heroes, David Chang, the Michelin star chef and television personality.
“I don’t like to use the word fusion because it’s got so many connotations, but I definitely draw on a lot of different styles and approaches,” Cole said.
There are rarely more than two items available on a given day, because Cole makes nearly every single ingredient from scratch, from the hot sauce and aioli to the tender braised brisket and slow-cooked curry sauce. Those ingredients appear in dishes like the Mountain Bowl (chicken curry with loads of vegetables and jasmine rice), the Banh Mi Style Dog (a hot dog topped with pickled and fresh veggies, grilled ham and hot sauce), and Baco Tel, which is Cole’s gourmet version of what you might find at a certain Mexican-ish fast-food restaurant.
Cole grew up in Farmington and spent several years in Colorado and Utah as a self-described ski bum. Upon coming back to Maine, he started cooking, and over the past decade has immersed himself in a wide array of culinary traditions, from Thai-style curries to French classics like beef bourguignon.
His dream of opening a restaurant or food truck began several years ago, and over the course of two years he hand-built the Rad Food Truck trailer, which boasts what is essentially a full restaurant kitchen. Though he’d offered occasional pop-ups in 2020 and earlier this year, this summer Cole was ready to do the truck full-time — so much so that he quit his job a few months ago to give the truck a proper go.
“I’m just working towards getting it to where it needs to be,” Cole said. “I am definitely a one-man restaurant. I have to do the dishes. I have to make sure everything works mechanically. Owning a restaurant or a food truck is definitely way more than just cooking.”
Over the past month, as word about the truck has spread, Cole has found himself selling out of food after just a few hours.
“I think I’m doing something right,” Cole said. “I’ve gotten some pretty amazing feedback.”
Rad Food Truck is generally open for lunch on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Brewer Auditorium, and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. its at the Holden Farmers Market on Route 1A near the Leadbetter’s gas station. Hours can vary day to day; up-to-date information is available on the Rad Food Truck Facebook page and Instagram.