Food Truck Brings Unique Cebuano Cuisine to Weekly Lunch Series
Published: Friday, May 25, 2012
Updated: Friday, July 20, 2012 14:07
Hey Joe Food Truck serves up authentic Filipino food every Wednesday afternoon, bringing recipes from the city of Lapu-Lapu to downtown Phoenix.
Brian Webb, the owner of Hey Joe Food Truck, said he wanted to offer Filipino cuisine in downtown Phoenix due to a perceived lack of Filipino dining options.
Along with several other food trucks, Hey Joe parks and provides food for the Afternoon Concert and Food Trucks series every Wednesday at Civic Space Park.
“It’s been pretty cool, just bringing a little bit of community to downtown Phoenix,” Webb said about the series. “This is a really great park, and it gives you a break and gives you an ‘out-of-city’ feel, almost.”
Webb and his wife, Margita, prepare and serve up Hey Joe cuisine at the Wednesday afternoon events. Margita is originally from Lapu-Lapu, a city in the province of Cebu on Mactan Islands, which is a small island in the Philippines. Brian Webb said she was the one who opened him up to Filipino food.
He said he experienced a “culinary awakening” after visiting his wife’s hometown and sampling the local fare, which led to him starting Hey Joe Food Truck. He pays homage to his wife’s roots with the design on his truck, which includes the sign of her family’s clan, a map of the Philippine Islands and symbols from Lapu-Lapu city. While in the Philippines, Brian Webb collected recipes from street vendors in Cebu and Lapu-Lapu and a few from his in-laws.
“My mother-in-law actually owned a restaurant in the Philippines many years ago,” he said. “I have generations of support behind me and a kind of a database that I pull from. Whenever we want to do a new dish, we always call over there.”
Webb got his cooking chops from the Scottsdale Culinary School in 2002.
“I’ve been cooking professionally for about 10 years, so it’s really her recipes with my techniques,” he said. “We make sure we use the highest quality ingredients and really the proper techniques.”
“We really do Cebuano food; it’s what we specialize in,” Brian Webb said, adding that flavors and styles of food vary from island to island in the Philippines. “Some people don’t know Filipino food to begin with, but we’re really specific with what region we’re from.”
One of Hey Joe Food Truck’s specials is a pork dish.
“It’s sautéed pork face,” he said. “It’s pork nose, cheek and ear. I had never really tried that until I went to the Philippines, and I just realized that’s one of my favorite dishes.”
The flavors and style of Filipino cuisine, Brian Webb explained, tells a lot about the country’s history.
“[Filipino food is] not spicy, it’s maybe a little sweet,” he said. “It’s really kind of a fusion. […] You have a lot of Spanish influence in it from when the Spaniards controlled the Philippines. You have the noodles from China. It’s really the ultimate fusion food and that’s why we keep it authentic.”
Webb said other food trucks have a tendency to “Americanize” Filipino dishes.
“You know, a lot of people do tacos or other trucks in the country do Filipino food and make burritos out of it,” he said. “We think the food by itself is so good, you don’t need to ‘Americanize’ it. That’s why we have the sign that says ‘no taco.’ We’re serious about it.”
He mentioned that the Concert and Food Truck Series in the Park has helped him broaden the appeal for both food trucks and Filipino food.
“That would be my favorite thing -- people are more open to trying food off of a food truck than maybe a restaurant,” Webb said. “It’s enabled me to get more people who wouldn’t regularly go to a Filipino restaurant to try Filipino food.”
Afternoon Concert and Food Trucks Series in the Park, Civic Space Park, 424 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, 602.262.7490, Wednesdays, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., free