Friday, January 7, 2011

The Good You, a mobile organic eatery, is up and rolling

Posted By on Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 8:35 AM

Chef Kelli Daniels (left) and proprietor Kate Szalay are the duo behind the Good You.
  • Chef Kelli Daniels (left) and proprietor Kate Szalay are the duo behind the Good You.

It's a few minutes before 2 p.m. on a Wednesday, and chef Kelli Daniels is getting ready to close her kitchen. A middle-aged man in a stocking cap stops and looks in the window on Westport Road, saying he just wants to see what this is all about.

"I see you love Jesus," says Daniels, noting the large cross around his neck. "Jesus loves this food." Even after three hours of working the griddle at the Good You, she can't help but be excited about the food that's coming out of the newest food truck in town.

click to enlarge The Good You is rolling in Westport.
  • The Good You is rolling in Westport.

Daniels and proprietor Kate Szalay first opened for business on December 19. And although the menu changes nearly daily, the concept has been the same from the beginning -- organic street food.

"We honor the ingredients from seed to palate, but I don't want organics to be portrayed as health food," Daniels says. 

This Wednesday, the Good You was serving a smoked organic chicken gyro ($8) and a pan-fried chickpea cake with curry cabbage slaw and tahini vinaigrette. You could also get a Blue Sky soda or a bag of Dirty potato chips for $2.

"We're turning skeptics into believers one gyro at a time," Daniels says.

Daniels left the Drop in April; she had been the executive chef there for nearly two years.

"We were going in different directions," she says.

She went north for the summer, cooking and teaching nutrition classes at a rowing camp in Minnesota. And when Daniels returned to town in the fall, she began putting together a business plan to launch the Good You. She secured investors and found a used trailer on eBay. She only had to go to Indiana to get it.

"That's why I chose it. My dad is buried in Indiana, and that just seemed to be a sign to me," she explains.

The trailer took a month to rehab. The fire-engine-red trailer was painted midnight-black with the Good You logo, a green leaf on wheels. Frozen water in the water pump required a last-minute replacement in order to open in December. 

"That's one of the things I learned from [Drop owner] Eddie Crane. I'm now a plumber, electrician and chef," Daniels jokes.

She is now free to be in the kitchen, while Szalay takes orders in the front of the house, which is about 3 feet away. Daniels can run as hot as the inside of that trailer, while Szalay retains the charm of a good bartender, which was her job at the Drop.

"We work well as a team," Szalay says. 

Daniels hopes to secure permits for Wyandotte County and Johnson County in order to take the Good You on the road and someday have a fleet of trucks. She's also open to more catering opportunities; she's been doing small, private dinners for the past six months.

But it's the food -- her food -- that really drives Daniels. She believes she has "cracked the code" on a Big Mac. She'll make her version, called the Good Mac, with a sesame-seed brioche made by Farm to Market. Werner's in Mission will also make an organic bratwurst for her that she'll serve with brussel kraut and Boulevard Pale Ale mustard.

"I would put our food up against any chef in the city," Daniels says. "We'll put it on a plate and then tell you it's from a truck after you've eaten it, and you can tell us if your mind is blown."

On Wednesdays, you can get lunch and dessert in Westport. The Good You will be parked next to 3 Girls Cupcakes, across from the Tivoli. To find out where the Good You is on a given day, and to see the menu, check the food truck's Twitter feed.

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