Food Truck

When the doors of his innovative, yet regrettably short-lived Lyn-Lake restaurant, the Gray House, closed
in July of 2014, Ian Gray didn’t waste much time grieving. That month a food truck, or rather a trailer
(imagine a U-haul with a kitchen inside it) was delivered to him and his business partners Kiri Anderson and
Jessica Knettel. It was to be the home of their new mobile concept: The Curious Goat.
There was just one problem—none of them had ever driven with a hitch before.
“We looked at each other and were like, ‘who’s going to park it?'” Gray said. “Who’s going to drive it home?”

Salvation came in the form of a phone call. Jim Watkins, co-owner of Sociable Cider Werks in
Northeast Minneapolis was interested in the idea of a food truck “residency.” Basically, he would
trade free rent for not having to constantly reach out and schedule different food trucks of varying
consistency. Gray was intrigued. And not just because it solved his parking problem. Excited by the
idea of collaborating with Sociable’s brewers, he agreed. In September 2014, the bright orange trailer
settled into its parking spot, and has since drawn an almost cult following for its flagship dish:
The Curious Goat Burger.

Gray works exclusively with goat from Singing Hills Dairy in Nerstrand, Minn. He met owner and cheesemaker
Lynne Reeck a few years ago, while perusing herofferings at the Mill City Farmers
Market. “Her chèvre is amazing,
so creamy and fresh. I was really
inspired by it and started using it
at the Gray House,” he
said. “Then she asked if
I wanted a sample of the
meat, I think it was ribs.
As soon as I tasted them
I was like, ‘woah. I need more of this.'”

Reeck’s herd is small; this
spring 34 babies were born on her 25-acre farm.
She’ll keep the females,
who will become milking
does for her in a year or two.
The males she sells to to Gray. Right now that means he has
goat meat six to seven months out
of the year, but with how popular it
has become, he’s hoping they can work together to expand a bit and
increase that to 10 months. “We
went through more goat in the
first six months of the truck than
in two years at the Gray House,” he said. “Goat
is something like 80% of the world’s consumed meat. But here in
the U.S. it’s still pretty unknown. We’re trying to change that.”

Relationships with farmers are
central to what Gray and his team
are creating at the Curious Goat
and their new (fully mobile) food
truck, The Smoking Cow, which
launched the first week of May.
It will feature beef from Andy
Peterson in Osceola, Wisc., who
Gray says, “is the best in the biz.”
And both concepts are heavily influenced by what Gray, Knettel and Anderson find at local farmers markets.
“What I love most right now is the Minnesota ginger I can buy from the Hmong farmers,” Graysaid. “It has the
stalk and leaves and is just incredible to work with.”

While one day they might return to having a brick and mortar, for now
Gray and his team are enjoying the freedom afforded by the food truck model to source only from farmers they
feel passionate about. “Our overhead is 5% what it was in the restaurant,” said Gray. “We can spend more on
food and charge less. It means we can pay for really quality products from really
amazing people. And it allows us risks with the menu.”

In addition to direct sourcing,the Curious Goat relies on Co-op Partners Warehouse (CPW) to help them with their pledge to “close
their doors before ordering from Sysco.” From CPW, they purchase local staples like onions, cabbage, potatoes,
and a gluten-free flour blend that they use for their fried cheese curds and chicken tenders
(something for which the gluten-free crowd at Sociable have gon crazy). ” CPW was also huge for us when
we were starting out and had a very hard time finding chicken,” said Gray. “Kadejan wasn’t taking new
accounts, and we didn’t know what to do.”

Larry Schultz of Owatonna is one of CPW’s cross-docking partners ( a service CPW provides to enable small
farmers to expand the reach of their product without delivery infrastructure), and Gray was able to pick up
orders for chicken and eggs directly from the CPW warehous in St. Paul. In addition to poultry and produce,
he also bys local sodas and coffees, as well as kitchen staples like organic rice vinegar. But he says their
partnership really shines outside of the local growing season.

“Come winter, CPW allows us to still source from places we’re proud to put on our menu.”

Luckily you don’t have to wait for winter to sample Gray’s goods. The Curious Goat will be open at
Sociable Cider Werks, Thursday through Sunday all year lone. And the Smoking Cow will be traveling to
different NE breweries starting in May, as well as being available for private events. For more info visit
the smokingcow.com

The curious goat burger

  • 2 lbs. ground goat meat (or lamb meat)
  • 4 oz. chevre goat cheese.
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh chives
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup oil, preferably sunflower or safflower
  • 1 cup goat cheese curds or thick-cut farmer’s cheese
  • 4 buns of choice
  • 1 bunch of seasonal greens, roughly chopped. (We love arugula, beet
    greens or radish greens, but whatever is fresh and local is best.)

1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.

2. Mix together goat meat, chevre cheese, chives, parsley, oregano, salt,
pepper, and red pepper flakes.

3. Form four equal-sized burger patties.

4. Heat an oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil. When oil
is hot, add burger patties and cook for roughly 4-5 minutes. Flip burgers
and finish in the oven for another 3-4 minutes. Add cheese of choice to
pan and cook in oven for another 3-4 minutes.

5. While burgers are cooking in the oven, toast buns.

6. Remove pan from oven and remove burgers. Toss in chopped greens
with the cheese in the pan and cook on stovetop until wilted. Top
burgers with greens and cheese.