Husband and wife duo Chase Gilroy and Jess McAtee launched Flour-ish Comfort Food Truck this month to bring Italian food from scratch to the streets of Pensacola through their commercial kitchen on wheels.
The two have been working side by side in the kitchens long before they were married, meeting on-site at The Vault restaurant at 200 S. Alcaniz St. in what quickly sparked a front-and-back-of-the-house romance.
McAtee said all it took was Gilroy riding his motorcycle into work to spark interest, but watching him cook created a whole new level of respect and admiration.
“I still wake up every day in a dream,” McAtee said.
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A Deeper Look at Flour-ish Comfort Food Truck Recipes
As McAtee battled health issues that prevented her from keeping food down easily, her husband began crafting recipes for her, using only a handful of select ingredients that left her body feeling nourished, when physically it seemed like it was going “downhill.”
One recipe that stuck was a white pizza, made with smoked chicken, spinach, feta cheese and a black garlic ricotta sauce that now serves as a bestseller on the menu of his new food truck.
The food is familiar to McAtee, having eaten it two or three times a week for the past six years.
“He was able to take the five things he could eat and make masterpieces out of them,” he said. “Everything he touches turns to gold.”
A formally trained pizza lover in the kitchen, Gilroy began to get fancier with the recipe as time went on, eventually learning to make his dough and sauce from scratch. With complete control over ingredients, he could make intentional adjustments to recipes for both health and flavor reasons, such as excluding sugar from his sauce and giving his dough a higher hydration count than his competitors. He also intends to choose quality local ingredients with a fresh homegrown feel that you can savor.
“One thing we’re striving to do is bring back that flavor,” Gilroy said.
Flour-ish Comfort Food Truck style ties back to New York roots
Although he was trained in international cuisine, he felt a natural urge to return to his roots making pizza. He started slicing cheese in a pizzeria with his brother when he was 14 years old.
He considers the pizza created in the Flour-ish truck to be New York/New Jersey style with a pub twist. However, he is not worried about the competition in Pensacola; he encourages him, and believes that there is still plenty of room for everyone.
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Not only do Flour-ish offer specialty pizzas by both the whole pie ($11 to $16) and by the slice ($3 to $3.75), but they’ve also taken advantage of donut calzones or Strombolis, stuffed with toppings and cheese and paired with a side of salsa. to wet
“If they have a couple of bucks in their pocket, they can have a nice meal,” Gilroy said.
Gilroy makes sure no shortcuts are taken, like smoking the pork for 10 to 12 hours at a time, or cooking the chicken on the bone for added flavor.
These meats then star in special pies, such as the barbecue, where you can choose your variety of smoked meat and accompany it with a sweet and tangy homemade sauce, pickled red onions and cheddar cheese.
While Gilroy shines in the Italian cuisine category, McAtee has found a niche of his own, experimenting with the truck’s rotating array of baked goods. So far, she’s created innovative treats like peanut butter whiskey cookies, pineapple toasted coconut cakes, and blackberry basil ice cream, but she changes the offerings with each new batch of inspiration.
She said there is never any competition when one of the co-owners comes up with a new idea for the truck, just excitement and encouragement.
“We are each other’s biggest supporters,” he said.
Although the trailer may look small on the outside, it essentially transforms into a professional kitchen on wheels, according to Gilroy.
With each new location they set up, McAtee begins thinking of ways to turn the truck into a relaxing space for guests, bringing plenty of plants and wind chimes to set up around the truck’s order window.
“When you go to a place, it’s not just the taste of the food…it’s the aesthetic feel,” he said.
Flour-ish Comfort Food Truck makes an impression in Pensacola
The airy, light feeling that the physical space provides should align with the comfort food mentality of the truck. It mimics sharing a meal with family after a long day, she said.
“That’s what we want you to feel when you come to us,” he continued.
Although the happy-go-lucky nature of the couple and the calm atmosphere of the truck make for a peaceful impression on guests, the past few years have been anything but joyous.
The couple’s yearning for a career change came after two consecutive losses in their families, first McAtee’s father, followed by Gilroy’s brother.
Although the truck had been a dream of Gilroy’s mind for the last decade, the two of them urgently needed a project to focus their attention on instead of the pain they faced.
“It’s really what saved us, being able to be busy and distracted,” McAtee said.
Scheduling events multiple days a week became exactly what they needed, but the two were careful not to let the new business eat away at their lives.
So, they visit craft fairs, take road trips back to McAtee’s hometown of New York, and take a long time to spend time with their two dogs. If they can simply earn enough to pay off the mortgage on their home off the truck, they’re happy, McAtee said.
However, at the events they have attended so far, they have received nothing but support from the community and other food truck owners.
“We really couldn’t have done this without them,” he said.
Updates and scheduled events can be found on the Flour-ish Comfort Food Truck Facebook page.