Portland vendors push food carts in new directions

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PORTLAND — Two of Portland’s newest food carts are dishing out some rather interesting takes on otherwise ordinary street foods.

Snappy’s Tube Steaks, which served its first customers on June 27, is a “truckster” – something between a truck and a cart – that serves nontraditional takes on hot dogs. Owners Ed Shevenell and Kari Williams said their goal is to offer a “recognizable product with unique toppings.”

“We see toppings a little bit differently,” Shevenell said.

Some of those toppings include apricot preserves with brie cheese, to make the “Born to Brie Wild;” banh mi coleslaw for the “Don’t You Forget a Banh Mi,” and apples, bacon and sauerkraut for the “Salty Dog.”

Snappy’s offers two kinds of hot dogs: an all-beef dog, and a classic red hot dog.

“Our thing is clever names and the toppings lend themselves to the names,” Shevenell said.

Shevenell said he gets a lot of his ideas from food his mother used to cook, such as apricot and brie puff pastries. He said once he gets the ideas, he gives them to Williams to turn into reality.

Snappy’s can be found most days on the Eastern Promenade from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., though Williams and Shevenell are looking at getting into more events and fairs, and have been to Rising Tide Brewing Co. on Fox Street to dish out dogs, too.

“The best way to keep up with us is on Facebook and Twitter,” Shevenell said.

Last week on the Eastern Promenade, Amy Smith said she is a fan, and also brought her parents out to the cart.

“The people (are good) and the dogs are delicious,” Smith said.

Another Eastern Promenade resident, Robert Goan, who Shevenell and Williams called a regular, said he tells everyone he knows to come out to Snappy’s.

“I love red hot dogs and the way they cook them (here) is the best,” Goan said.

Morsel, meanwhile, is a traveling food truck that sells “artisanal kettle corn,” a far cry from simply popped kernels with butter and salt.

Owner Chris Hershey said he always wanted a food truck or restaurant, but the business model for a brick-and-mortar restaurant wasn’t always the best.

“A food truck was the next logical progression,” Hershey said.

He then decided to couple his love of food trucks with his equal love of popcorn, which stemmed from “movie nights” with his family.

Hershey offers some unique flavors outside of just plain kettle corn.

For example, “Casco Bay” is a slightly sweet, slightly spicy blend reminiscent of Old Bay seasoning. The “Cinamonium” smells like French toast, which Hershey said makes people go “nuts.” The “Maki Pop” has a blend of Maine sea salt, sea weed and toasted sesame.

All of Morsel’s ingredients are locally sourced and the product is guaranteed fresh. Hershey said he pops in small batches and follows what he called the Holy Donut model: he sells until they are out of product, then it’s done for the day.

“Popcorn is supposed to be fresh,” Hershey said.

Morsel operates at three main locations, Monday-Thursday: on Marginal Way across from the AAA building, at the corner of Spring and Temple streets, and on the Eastern Promenade.

On Fridays and Sundays, however, he said the truck will usually be at different events around the state. He said people have already begun reaching out to book the truck for festivals, events, and even weddings.

And for each event, Hershey plans a special. He has been invited to the Grace Potter concert at Thompson’s Point on Aug. 1, and is tinkering with a recipe to pay homage to her New England roots. Similarly, he came up with a “Red, White and Blue” flavor for the Fourth of July, with ground organic blueberries and strawberries.

For Hershey, a former U.S. State Department employee, it’s all about giving people something good to eat.

“Snack food doesn’t have to be junk food,” he said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Sidebar Elements

Chris Hershey is the owner of Morsel, an artisanal kettle corn food truck, which serves up unique takes on the snack food. All the ingredients are locally sourced, Hershey said.

Morsel offers a several kinds of artisanal kettle corn, including the a flavor called “Casco Bay,” which is reminiscent of Old Bay Seasoning.

Kari Williams and Ed Shevenell are the owners of a new food cart called Snappy’s Tube Steaks, which sells some unique takes on the traditional hot dog.

Williams and Shevenell dish out hot dogs with toppings including apricot preserves and brie.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.