Surely by now you’ve heard that the Vendy Awards are coming up this Saturday, September 13th. We’re always excited for this opportunity to stuff our face with some of the best street grub available but this year has extra special awesome sauce all over it because it’s returning to Governor’s Island and because it’s the Vendy’s 10th Anniversary! Street fare has come a long, long way and the entrepreneurs who have pioneered the movement are getting credit for their hard work and a passion that
Just. Doesn’t. Let. Up.
Photo courtesy of Gourmet.com
We here at the NYC Food Truck Association are celebrating four members who have been NOMinated this year:
Nuchas (Vendy Cup/People’s Choice),
Big D’s Khao Cart (Rookie of the Year),
D.U.B. Pies (Rookie of the Year),
Shanghai Sogo (Rookie of the Year)
Today, the NYCFTA’s Community Manager Laci Texter is chatting with Gareth Hughes, DUB Pies founder and a proud Kiwi-via-Liverpool who has resided in Brooklyn for the past 13 years.
Gareth, thanks for chatting with me and congrats on your Vendy’s nod! Tell me about the concept behind DUB Pies and why you decided to open it.
Thanks, Laci! New Zealand’s unofficial national dish is the savory pie – or as it’s called down there, the meat pie. With my master’s degree in psychology in tow – I’d been in the corporate arena since 1996, dabbling in various career paths including a live music venue manager, recruiter for a multi-national recruiting firm, and radio DJ – before accepting my heart wasn’t in it. I took voluntary redundancy, moved to New York City and found jobs bartending and then as a taxi driver, hoping it would give him some interesting tales… which I have yet to write!
Anyway, I’d been driving a cab for just two weeks when September 11 knocked the city sideways. I knew my managerial skills could be put to better use helping my adopted hometown, so swapped my yellow cab for a job at a disaster assistance center, where I managed counselors working directly with survivors of the tragedy. After a year, I had nothing left in me. Emotionally and physically exhausted, I returned to New Zealand for a break and found himself tucking into the hearty comfort food of my home country, and began plotting my next move back in the Big Apple. I was eating four or five pies every day. And it hit me just like that — PIES might be the answer to my question. In fact, pies might just be the answer to every question ever asked!
They say you should choose to do something you’re passionate about in your career, if possible, and the only idea that really made any sense to me was pies. I ‘studied’ pie-making under some of New Zealand’s top bakers and came back to New York to set up a peripatetic bakery in a Lower East Side night club kitchen in 2003 before hopping to several other Manhattan locations. Our first Brooklyn storefront/café opened in 2005 and later moved the café from Red Hook to Windsor Terrace, bringing authentic Kiwi pies, southern hemisphere-style flat white coffees and delicious lamingtons to the southwest corner of Prospect Park.
Wow, what a ride! Your truck has been on the road for just over a year and already you’re headed to the Vendy’s – What are you looking forward to and what will you be serving?
We spent the first several months figuring out how the food truck game works in NYC, gradually adding levels of complexity to what we do until we felt we were ready to step up to presenting the full old-school down under street food experience known in New Zealand as “Pea, pie & ‘pud.”
This meal is also popular in the UK and Australia. In short, it’s a savory pie (traditionally a beef pie though we’ll also have a veg pie option available) smothered in mashed potatoes, mushy peas and a dark gravy.
So, why do you think the Vendy judges should vote for DUB Pies this Saturday?
For over 10 years we’ve strived, single-mindedly, to educate first New Yorkers – but ultimately all Americans – about the wonder, the magic and the simple beauty of savory pies. We were the first NYC-based business to make proselytizing about savory pies (and antipodean-style coffee) our raison d’etre. It’s been a long hard road as we re-program Americans that pies don’t necessarily have to be sweet and in fact, beyond the borders of the USA, a pie is usually thought of as something savory. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Ireland are just a few countries that revere the savory pie as a king of foods unto itself.
Winning the Vendys “Rookie of the Year” title would make all that hard work pay off in one fell swoop as the recognition we’d gain for presenting outrageously good street food enclosed in pastry would catapult us to a new level of awareness in the minds of all Americans as we continue to show them what they’ve been missing for all these years!
I, for one, am convinced I need more meat pies in my life! What’s the most popular item on your menu? What do DUB Pies converts keep coming back for?
We’re always coming up with new pie ideas. In fact, putting the Pie Truck on the streets of NYC convinced us we needed to offer sweet pies. Our newest addition of a Cherry Pie is perhaps our most popular sweet pie.
Of the savory options… It’s a close run between the Thai Chicken Curry pie, the Steak Mince (beef) and Cheese pie and the Curry Vegetable pie (vegan).
Over the past year or so, what’s been your biggest challenge with the DUB Pies Truck so far and what’s been the best part of operating a food truck in NYC?
The biggest challenge has been learning the rules – written and unwritten – involved in operating a food truck successfully in NYC. There are so many issues to contend with it takes some time before you feel comfortable with how it all really works.
The best part of operating a truck is actually working on the truck. We’re not really sure what it is but it’s different than working in the cafe. The ability to lean out the window and instantly interact with people passing by is a lot of fun and New Yorkers (& tourists) really seem to dig the exchanges.
And speaking of interacting with people on the streets, how can people find where you’re serving each day?
We keep a regularly updated page for our truck locations on our website
– we send a weekly newsletter telling people where the truck will be
(which you’ll only get if the truck is going to be at a location you’ve expressed interest in) and of course we update our location daily on facebook
Welp, that about covers it! Have anything else to share? Something about DUB Pies people might not know?
It’s not hyperbole to insist that in New Zealand the meat pie is at least as important to the food culture as pizza, hotdogs and hamburgers are to the diet of New Yorkers. Indeed meat pies are central to the food culture of many western nations – for some reason they’ve taken a while to catch on in the USA. But that’s now changing very rapidly. You’ll now begin to see more and more savory pies being made available everywhere in the USA. Savory pies are not only here to stay, they’re finally being recognized as new food category in the US!
And no doubt they’ll become a fast habit of New Yorkers as the temperature begins to dip! Thanks so much for sharing, Gareth, and good luck to the D.U.B. Pies team on Saturday!
Thanks, Laci. We’ll see you all Saturday!