Now Woodinville is joining the phenomenon with the arrival of Caribreoso Catering. Chef and owner Michael Cunningham, who began his business doing lunch delivery to various local companies on the Eastside, switched gears last June when he opted to purchase a food truck.
“I wanted to find the best way to get food out to people when they’re hungry,” says Cunningham. “With the lunch delivery operation, it was hard to get a sustainable ordering system. I did some research on food trucks and watched a number of documentaries about them and it just clicked for me. I knew it was the way to go.”
A resident of Renton, Cunningham had been employed as a project manager with Boeing before being laid off eighteen months ago.
He explains that he had always been interested in the culinary field and while he was at Boeing, he took advantage of the company’s generous educational tuition program to take classes at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle.
When he got laid off from his job, he decided to pursue his interest full time.
“I established a catering kitchen in Redmond, where I do all the prep work for the truck,” says Cunningham. “I take the truck out five days a week. I’m in Woodinville on Tuesdays and Fridays, in Redmond on Mondays and in Renton on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The truck is parked at the same designated area in each location so that people know where I am and get used to seeing me there.”
Cunningham explains that he chose the different spots based on their density of population during lunchtime. He also sought out locales where there weren’t an overabundance of restaurants. In Woodinville, he is situated in the Woodin office complex off of 175th Street.
“I get my haircut at the barbershop right nearby,” he comments. “So I was able to really get a feel for the area.”
Cunningham specializes in Creole, Southern and Caribbean dishes, as he enjoys the many culinary influences on this type of cuisine, including French, Asian, Old English and Native American.
A native of Tennessee, Cunningham’s southern roots run deep. He was educated in Florida, where he met and became friends with many students from the Caribbean.
Caribreoso’s menu is varied and features such items as Jamaican patties stuffed with beef, Jerk pork, chicken, smoked turkey, smoked fish, veggies or curried apple.
There’s also Cunningham’s special Haitian Lobster Roll, a concoction of smoked lobster, pineapple, celery and salad mixed with Caribbean spices on Coco bread, a Haitian yeast bread shaped like a Hoagie roll.
Additional dishes available include Jerk chicken and pork, macaroni and cheese, Cuban cheese steak and steamed cabbage among others. Thus far, the response to the food truck has been very positive.
“Everyone seems to love the food,” says Cunningham. “The word is getting out and I’m getting repeat customers which is great. I know it’s going to take a while to build up a following, but it’s gradually starting to happen.”
As for the future, Cunningham wants to branch out to do private catering and offer his services as a personal chef, as well as offer cooking classes.
“That’s down the line a bit,” he adds. “Right now, I want to continue to market the truck and work the route to make more people aware of this convenient and delicious option they have for lunch.”