Thursday, July 5, 2012
Interview: Tenielle Powers of Crazy Fish food truck
Powers says Crazy Fish tries to take out all the stereotypes about sushi.
The atmosphere in the food truck community is kind of like hanging out with friends. As you get to know the people responsible for bringing unique, high quality food to the streets, you quickly recognize that they are as unique as their trucks and their menus. This is the first in an ongoing series to introduce you to the people behind the trucks … and the food. I thought the only chivalrous thing to do was to start with the ladies in the Dallas Food Truck scene.
The newest truck in Dallas owned and operated by an all-female team is Crazy Fish. Crazy Fish, owned and operated by Tenielle Powers, is the first and currently the only sushi truck operating in the DFW market.
Food Truck Connection: Listened to you for about three words and it’s clear you’re not a Dallas native. How did we get fortunate enough for you to end up here?
Powers: Well, I used to own an Ultra Lounge in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. After some time of trying to make it a fruitful venture and working crazy hours I decided to wrap it up, be free of being an employer with all the pressure, drama and late nights, and move to Las Vegas to experience my twenties with no strings attached. That I did. And I was very good at it…lol!!!
While I was saving for Crazy Fish I was predominately working in the night club scene, as an employee, not an employer!
When did Crazy Fish hit the streets and where was the first place you set up?
Our first day out was May 5. Been rolling ever since. The first place we set up was Hightower Salons on 635 and Macarthur. It was a nice open spot where people could see us.
How did you come up with the name Crazy Fish?
Crazy Fish is a name that me and my brother came up with some years ago. He actually went on to open several conveyor style restaurants in Australia.
Let’s talk sushi … where did you get introduced to sushi?
I became very excited about sushi on a trip to Japan back in 1997 when I was 20 years old. I came across this conveyor belt Sushi restaurant in Shibuya Tokyo where they had Salmon Nigiri with Japanese mayo and a slice of onion going around on a conveyor belt. Those three flavors together had me hooked.
At Crazy Fish, we will evolve the tradition! We take out all the stereotypes about sushi … and replace it with more interesting twists. Our menu is organic, our fish is wild and all meats are free range. To go along with our wildness, we add some color to the equation. And all six of our specialty sauces are on the side so you can dip to your taste.
What is the most misunderstood thing about sushi?
That it is all raw. Traditional sushi is raw but sushi restaurants in western countries always carry cooked items so there is something for everyone. I have discovered that people decide that they don’t like sushi before they have tried it. I have personally broken through that barrier this week with a couple of customers!
You sure broke that barrier with me. What convinced you that a Sushi Truck would be successful in the heart of cattle country?
Ha! Sushi restaurants do well in Texas so why not a truck? Mobile sushi is a niche that hasn’t really been looked into very much, so now I’m trying to conquer it, one roll at a time!
Where do you get the recipes for the different rolls on the menu? Who named them?
That’s a great question! There are a lot of funny stories to do with our roll names. For example, The Asian Persuasion is named after a guy my closest friend is dating… the Red White and Blue was named by a girl friend of mine that’s in PR, she thought it would be great to have a Patriotic roll in the mix. The Bucking Bull Roll is named after a friend of mine who has a radio show. It was his suggestion to have a Texas roll that would inspire people to try sushi. I have taken a lot of ideas in conversation and put them into our menu. I want to personalize our rolls and have fun with it.
The graphics on the truck are great. Who designed the wrap?
Thank you! My peeps at RolArt helped me design the wrap. It was a collation of ideas.
Does your truck have a name or is that just a guy thing?
Actually no, but strangely our delivery vehicle does. MILFORD. Hilarious story too...
What about that Crazy Fish on the side of the truck – does it have a name?
No? I think we should have a contest to name it as your mascot? What do you think?
I like that idea!
Let’s learn a little bit more about you. What do you like most about operating Crazy Fish?
I think it’s all the camaraderie with all the food trucks and customers. That is such a rewarding part for me. It is also very exciting to see something that you visualized and created enjoyed by another. It’s exhilarating.
What’s the dumbest thing anyone has said to you so far?
"So a roll is a sandwich, right?" I had a giggle but we really want to educate, too, so it’s all good.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you while working on the truck?
Cheryl had a close call with the propane rice cooker and almost singed her eyebrows off. I think she would look good with no eyebrows anyway. Lol!
[Cheryl Reeds is “little fish,” Tenielle’s (“Big Fish”) sidekick and right hand on the truck. We may have to see what stories she has to tell!]
Has anyone proposed to you yet while working on the truck?
Lol! What a funny question! Ummmm, no. I think I have never been this single. Hahaha. If I was dating, I’d probably be single again anyway coming home every day smelling like fish.
Most people may not realize how much work it is to run a food truck. What do you do to relax and recharge?
I have a little foot spa where they give Chinese foot reflexology. It is the most awesome thing ever. You get foot and hand and back massage for an hour and a half for only $50. So good, my hands get really sore and achy from squeezing 150 sushi rolls a day.
Where do you see things going with food trucks in the future?
I think this boom is just starting. There will be many more, some that last, some that don’t. I think you will see the strong ones open up full restaurants after establishing their customer base. This is what I hope to do. I’m not sure people fully understand the hard work involved in this when they are starting. It’s an 18 hour a day job. I actually dreamt about food truck last night. Seriously.
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