Ian Cadzin, Head of Business Operations for Southern Wheels Eats, shared the following with SoWeTaste about his relatively new, family-inspired mobile food vendor. We’re so excited to try the SWE food in just a few days at SoWe 2014!
Southern Wheels Eats is a LLC with two partners, myself and Kathleen Galante. Kathleen is head chef, trained at the International Culinary Center. As one of eight children, she was born to a southern mother and New York father. She was raised eating and making food for the people: fried chicken, collard greens, black eyed peas, okra, grits, and flakey biscuits. Her mother’s southern roots were deep. Both her mother and nana were true southern cooks. They taught her well: when chores were given out, she chose to cook in the kitchen next to her mom, and she hasn’t stopped since.
I am a recent graduate of Salve Regina University with a B.S. in financial management and a minor in business administration. As a long time food lover, I was looking for an opportunity to combine my finance and management skills and apply them to something that I really enjoy: SWE was the perfect match.
The inspiration and aspiration to cook southern fare came to fruition on a hot summer day when Kathleen was visiting a family friend of 30+ years, Elaine Graziano. Elaine, myself (her son), and Kathy were out to dinner and talking about—what else—food. We spoke of food trucks, food on the go, catered dinner parties, and everything in between. We went our separate ways, continued to stay in touch. Within a week, we made the decision to start this venture.
The decision to delve into this type of cuisine in particular can be traced to Kathleen’s roots in Georgia. Her mother was born and raised in Georgia, and her house was always the place to be when it was time to sit down for dinner. Actually, many of the recipes we use today are directly passed down from generation to generation in Kathleen’s family. We are more than thrilled to share them with the public. Kathleen and Elaine have been cooking for the masses for over 20 years, as Elaine’s house was the location of many weekend-long dinner parties prepared by Kathy and Elaine. We are proud to have rekindled this tradition and look forward to having the public involved.
Our menu will offer, first and foremost, traditional fried chicken. No frills, just the way her mother did it at the family dinners of 20+ in the heat of Georgia. A little secret: we fry the chicken not just once, but twice. We use only the finest chicken and are developing a great relationship with Murray’s Chicken, our primary chicken supplier. Only the best for our consumers.
Next at SWE, we will be introducing the idea of the “wheel.” The wheel is a half moon shaped item stuffed with a variety of fillings and surrounded by perfectly crispy dough. The dough is our own special recipe—there is nothing else on the market like it. It’s not a calzone, it’s not an empanada, but it falls into tis own category we’ve coined the “wheel.” The wheel will be offered in 3 different styles: 1. collard green and thick cut bacon wheel (collard greens prepared using a multi generation recipe with a modern touch of bacon) 2. mac & cheese wheel (these are as good as they sound, maybe better: rich, decadent mac & cheese inside a flaky pastry dough) 3. pulled pork wheel (still in recipe testing phase, but it’ll be exactly as it sounds: pulled pork in our wheel).
We will also offer a proprietary iced tea mix that we promise is like nothing you’ve ever tried! For SoWe, we will be keeping it simple and offering fried chicken, collard greens wheels, and our signature ice tea.
Kathleen’s favorite item we serve is the traditional fried chicken because it takes her back to her youth. The collard greens wheel is my all-time favorite. Taste tests and general consensus shows the mac and cheese wheel as a huge hit—we have been receiving tremendous feedback. We anticipate menu offerings will change slightly seasonally.
As a mobile business, we are constantly looking to book the next festival or market. After SoWe on Saturday, we hope to be a part of the Broadway French Market in Midtown at 35th and 36th Street (Tuesdays and Fridays beginning in early October). Continue to check our Twitter (@SthrnWheelsEats), which will be updated with our location daily! We are also in the process of booking private catering parties. Long term, we are looking into a different couple of possibilities, everything from a food truck to a storefront location. You will just have to keep tabs on us to see where we end up!
We believe SWE is very different from other southern food vendors. We have real, authentic recipes that have stood the test of time, and we are putting a unique modern touch on them. I’d like to take a moment to thank our families (Elaine, Briana, Shane, and Michela) for the support they have given us throughout this sometimes-challenging adventure. We’re very eager for what’s to come!