On this Summer edition of THE INTERVUE, Chef and food truck aficionado Brad Miller travels across the country to find the latest and greatest bites on wheels. He highlights the innovative chefs who push the boundaries of food and their customer’s curious palates on the upcoming season of Food Truck Nation on Cooking Channel!
Brad, welcome to THE INTERVUE!!
Thanks for having me! I’m pretty excited.
Yeah, I’m pretty excited too, especially since you went up against Chef Ramsey in “Hell’s Kitchen,” I remember. Then, cooking and hosting shows all over the broad television atmosphere, so that’s amazing.
Yeah, I mean it was, I could be wrong, 2004 when I went up against Ramsey.
Yeah, working restaurants, opening up a couple of my own restaurants, and just focusing on my craft and I have this awesome opportunity to basically go around and showcase amazing food trucks and we’ve been doing it now for—we have our pilot for our first season, and we just wrapped our second season, which is so cool. It’s cool to showcase these food trucks. You wouldn’t believe what they’re doing. It’s pretty intense.
Tell me about it, when Cooking Network first approached you to host this series, what do you hope to bring to the viewer who has seen food trucks in your major cities, but how do you take them across the nation to see the best food trucks?
For me, I just want to be a guide, honestly. I want to be a guide and give the viewer a look at what these food trucks are doing and just be a vessel for showcasing people’s amazing ingredients, and honestly, not just the food. Sometimes you get to see these outdone trucks. (laughs)
True story. It’s just amazing, and I just want to be the vessel. And I think having—you know, I’m still a chef. I’m literally going to my restaurant after this interview! (laughs)
I get to show the viewer the variety of food trucks and let the food shine and the person who has the food truck talk about their food, but I can say, “oh, that’s amazing!” and, because I know about food. I can sit back and let them do their work.
So, you’ve done two seasons of “Food Truck Nation.” What makes a great food truck, especially since we know there’s plenty of them, especially since every time I go to the museums in and around the DMV, I see them all the time?
I think you’ll find in food trucks what makes any business successful is passion. You’ll find the most passionate person, the right food truck, whatever they do. They’re going to be extremely successful because when you have passion for something, it shines through in their work and in their food!
When did you realize that your passion can turn into an amazing career, which has been blossomed, is growing and is still going ever since?
I grew up in a butcher shop—not in a butcher shop, of course—I grew up my dad being a butcher, so I kind of always had food around me. He always cooked. He was the one who cooked in the family. And I remember him saying, “you want me to teach you how to cook?” I remember him saying “every cook has a story about somebody teaching him; mine was my grandmother.” I remember my dad was like, “You want to cook?” I was like, “no, I wanna just eat it.” (laughs)
And I want to go hang out with my friends. And then as I got older, he started wanting me to develop skills, and my dad is a great cook and I started to see what he was doing and learning from that. That’s when I went to high school and I took up a food class but taking that food class showed me, “oh my gosh, you can take these little instruments can transform these ingredients into food. That’s amazing. And that’s kind of when it sparked for me.
Amazing! So, I have to ask, what is your signature dish now? If I had to go to your restaurant, what can I expect?
We’re in Los Angeles, CA. If something’s not in season, something’s wrong. (laughs)
We have the best produce in the world right here. So, I wouldn’t say that I have a signature dish to be honest with you. It’s just I work with the seasonal, and we’re lucky enough to be able to do that, because a lot of people can’t do that, and that’s how signature dishes arise.
Oh yes, amazing. And for those who don’t know, where can we find your restaurant and what’s the name?
My restaurant is called The Inn of the Seventh Ray, and that’s up in Topanga Canyon, which is right by Malibu. Yeah, so we’re up there cranking every day. It’s one of the most romantic restaurants in L.A., and it truly is. It’s one of those places you—even I go there every day and see them, I’m like “wow, good for me.” I’m really happy.
Well, I can definitely tell. The sounds in your voice and your enthusiasm really shows and I definitely appreciate your happiness. And when I’m out there, I will definitely come visit your restaurant and eat there. (laughs)
Oh yeah, you gotta come by. You let me know.
Nice! So, how do you decide which food trucks feature on each of the episodes that we’re about to see for this coming season?
Well, what we try to do is find somebody who’s doing something a little bit different. You know, someone who’s doing great food. A lot of them have to do with “well, we’ll do five burgers.” Every burger is different, and every burger has a lot of flavor. A lot of these food truck owners have amazing stories to tell. Somebody was running a Fortune 500 company and said “all I want to do is cook; I had to get out of the rat race.” There’s a million things they used to do and they all kind of have similar—the stories are they didn’t like what they did, they wanted to follow their passion and they stopped and now they’re following their passion, which is food. It’s so amazing.
I can’t wait to see the upcoming season. Just talking about it—I cannot wait to see what all these food trucks are different, compared to what I’ve experienced here in the D.C. area. And speaking of which, has the show been in the D.C. area, or are you going to film an episode in the DMV soon?
We’re going everywhere. We had trucks in D.C. they wanted to film and we went to them and as the season grows, I promise you we’re going to hit up D.C. as season goes to season, I’m sure.
Nice! Well, when you do definitely let me know, because I definitely want to see it. (laughs)
Oh yeah, definitely we’ll come around and see you. We’ll bring you something.
Sweet , I like that! So, what has been the most unique cuisine you have ever experienced from a food truck, if you had to name one?
As far as unique goes, to me, I think it’s because I’m in the hospitality business industry. I kind of know all types of cuisine. There wasn’t really anything shocking or I would say, out of the box too much, I mean, putting booze in cookies. That was pretty interesting. I would say doing ramen. Somebody does ramen noodles off a truck. I was more amazed and shocked by people putting out the level of food you would normally have to make in a large restaurant and put it in a food truck. That kind of, to me, what became unique and different. But yeah, the kind of different cuisines that take a lot of time to make in a restaurant setting, let alone making it in a food truck. That was shocking to me.
Yeah, I definitely hear that shock value right there. So, if you have a food truck, tell us what would be on the menu.
I’m going to be a hypocrite here. I would say what makes a great food truck is sticking to one thing and doing extremely well. Whether it’s ramen, burgers, pizza, cookies, you name it. Believe in one thing and do it super, super well.
I want tacos, I want a burger. I don’t think I could choose, to be honest with you. I don’t know what I would do and I think I want to do it all, but what I enjoy is that they don’t do it all. (laughs) I got both sides right there.
I understand. Alright, and we got one last question for you. Since we’re in the summer season, what is your summer go-to food, if you can eat it through the summer?
Mine is really simple, and this is what I do. This is more of an item you grill and cook fresh cucumber from the garden, chop it up, a little lime juice. Its brings that kind of spice that’s like sweet and spice and I could snack on that at least three times a week outside by the pool. It’s cucumber, spicy and a little lime. It’s so simple, nothing out of this world, but its something I eat all summer long. I don’t think there’s one dish I eat all summer long besides that.
Well, that is brilliant, and I’m glad that you like that summer food. Check out the new season of Food Truck Nation which premieres TONIGHT at 9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT on Cooking Channel