January 1, 2015: A day for resolutions. If you’ve read some of my older stories you’ll know I’ve reduced my what-used-to-be-exhaustive self-improvement lists down to one word for the entire year. 2013: strength. 2014: connections. 2015 was three letters: TBD.
That was until I read @CADoodleMoo’s tweet: Keep Calm and Be Dauntless.
Dauntless, defined as not to be daunted or intimidated; fearless; intrepid; bold. It gives you permission to try something different, to open new doors … or alternatively to simply cut yourself some slack for owning the same old way you’ve always been if that’s really what makes you comfortable in your own skin.
So, I stole Jolie Rollins’ phrase for my own for 2015, but not without her permission. I figured I had to get to know anyone who could read my mind like that, so we started chatting via Twitter. Her story soon fascinated me … she left 18 years in the corporate world of healthcare sales operations in September 2014 to, of all things, open a food truck: CockADoodleMoo.
Cold turkey. No part-time weekends or special events to see how it would play out, but jumping in all at once – with her husband Doug taking the same leap out of his full-time chef role at the same time.
Rollins pulled no punches: “We broke a lot of the rules: we both quit our jobs, went into biz with spouse, opened during the SLOW season, and so on!”
Sounds dauntless to me.
But they weren’t wearing their stupid hats. The love of food and service is interwoven throughout their lives; Doug “has all the culinary chops” with 18 years of chef time, most recently Executive Chef at the NC State Faculty Club, and Jolie’s managed for the Angus Barn and bartended/cocktailed off and on throughout the years.
CockADoodleMoo’s focus is traditional and global BBQ along with gourmet sandwiches featuring fresh, all-natural and local ingredients. First-timer? They recommend The Raven, a twist on a Baltimore pit beef sandwich. Other customer favorites include the State Divided, Fig and Pig, Fig and Feather, Foghorn, Carolina Turkey Black Bean Chili and Yukon Gold Fries. The Roro is a take on the classic Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.1
While nothing has “crashed and burned,” Jolie was clear that customer opinions are valued. “The Foghorn went through four iterations, with a big thanks to Paul Prause who made a great observation. Also the duck breast prosciutto on the Fig and Feather was too salty, and we’ve corrected that, based on honest, timely feedback from our customers.”
Although their roots are firmly planted in Southern cooking, they’ve featured Korean, Italian, Cuban, and Mexican cuisines, plus Jolie tipped me off that Chinese and Caribbean will soon make the list as well.
“We learned from parents and grandparents who honor NC agriculture and culinary traditions; we love to cook traditional southern meals for guests to the South AND have them prepare a meal for us. Food is the way we learn and communicate friendship, love, culture, traditions, values, hospitality and joy. We love to travel and ‘eat native’.”
That commitment to local is loud and clear: if they can’t get Walk Ahead Farms’ chicken, they don’t serve The Foghorn. A take-off on bahn mi, it’s pulled smoked chicken on a toasted baguette laced with sriracha mayo and pickled radish salad. Cross your fingers Walk Ahead Farms stays ahead of production, because it rocks.
Other local partners include Mills Family Farm, Maple Farms, Cultured Cow, The Flour Garden, Sweet Peas, and all the vendors at Wake Forest Farmers Market. It’s a simple choice for them, and guides their menu: “It’s just good business to serve what tastes best at its at the peak AND when it is abundant and cheaper.”
You’ll find CockADoodleMoo “anywhere they serve local craft beer and allow your dogs! Just kidding (sorta).” Favorite stops are the Wake Forest Farmers Market and Nickelpoint Brewing. Jolie was quick to point out that Raleigh Brewing Company has been supportive from the planning stages but that they were also blunt: “If your food/service doesn’t hit the mark, we will tell you.” As Jolie put it, “LOVE the honesty, so refreshing!”
“Big Red” hasn’t popped up at a “big” event yet, but three weddings are on the books plus the rescheduled Fat Tuesday celebration Feb. 28 on Fayetteville Street, Knightdale Farmer’s Market Opening Day and 4th of July celebration, with plans for Brewgaloo, Beericana, Wake Forest Food Truck Rodeo and more.
When I asked Jolie how she decided on dauntless for 2015 after choosing fearless for 2014, she credited “lots of books and blogs talking about the power of one-word resolutions versus the typical ‘I’ll lose 10 pounds this year.’ One requires willpower, which I don’t have, and the other requires patience, thoughtfulness and action. Fearless + Determination = Dauntless. It was the natural progression per my BFF, Marilyn. She’s right!”
Jolie’s advice for wannabe food-truckers? “Don’t be afraid of hard work. The four hours you see us serve take eight hours of prep and planning!” And although the food truck scene is growing, she sees it as the more the merrier. “I don’t think it’s getting too crowded with all the new breweries opening, festivals, and big beer events, but that’s just my opinion. More and more employers, apartment buildings and office complexes, for example, offer food trucks as a way to increase satisfaction or stickiness.”
If you’re craving more on local food trucks check out Art Sheppard’s The Wandering Sheppard, voted Mobile-Cuisine’s 2014 Food Truck Blog of the Year, or follow @RUWandering. In his words: “What started as a novelty (eating at a food truck once or twice a month), soon became more frequent (from a few days a week to sometimes twice a day). The more I ate from the food trucks, my curiosity steered me to learn more about these culinary geniuses behind the wheel. I found out these were entrepreneurs risking financial assets and personal family time to chase a dream.”
That’s Jolie’s favorite part about being her own boss, “the freedom to dream and act on your dreams. And maybe surprisingly, the validation from customers. They are so encouraging and are the reason why we do what we do!”
As Jolie so wisely wrapped it up, “You have to trust your instincts, believe in your product/service and have fun!”
Personally, I’m looking forward to having fun writing about more of these dreams, about inspiring people who define dauntless in the Triangle. Watch for the Keep Calm and Be Dauntless graphic. To be continued…
- Roscoe, their dog, is named after the Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood, CA; they must be big fans. ↩