My research on Mei Mei’s Street Kitchen began as such:
Me: “So for the Boston Local Food Festival I have to write about Mei Mei’s Street Kitchen…”
My roommate: Knee-slaps enthusiastically, “Oh my god that’s the best food truck EVER!”
I think she summed it up pretty well. And Improper Bostonian, recently naming it Boston’s Best Food Truck of 2013, seems to agree. Since this truck will take part in the October 6th Festival celebrating Boston’s sustainable food businesses, I was lucky to have the chance to do some further investigation to find out what exactly this Food Truck eats for breakfast that makes it so loved and successful. So successful that their truck is just weeks away from a real driveway to call home in its own brick and mortar counterpart, a restaurant to open in Audubon Circle. Not that the truck will be home much.
Mei Mei means ‘little sister’ in Chinese, and that highlights factor #1 in its great successes: family. Created and operated by a powerful sibling trio, each one brings interestingly different skills to the table. Brother Andy, with fine dining management experience, and sisters Mei, the businesswoman who handles the entrepreneurial side of things, and Irene the farmer with years of line cook experience. They all have one major asset in common, however: they are extremely passionate about what they do, and passionate about treating the whole food community as their family.
That’s apparently the key to sustainability, which I had the pleasure of figuring out while chatting with Mei when I stopped by to try their amazing food. The siblings’ inspiration comes from feeling as though they’re improving the food system. Since opening, they have used 33,000 pounds of food from small area farms, local farmers markets, and the Food Project in Roxbury. This way they get to do what they love, which is cooking and sharing food that means something to them, while helping local farmers stay afloat to do the same.
Their new restaurant will sing the same tune. They will do everything in-house, Mei explained, down to butchering their own pigs. This allows for a more affordable product since they’ll do all of the labor themselves. It also allows the team to be more creative and resourceful, using every bit of the pig for any concoction that pops into their heads that day.
“A food truck allows for interaction.” Mei says of why she enjoys what she does. Almost on cue, as I was hanging around waiting for the group to finish up the last orders of the day so I could take their somewhat dreaded group photo, a young girl bounced up to the truck to say hello and stayed to chat. Turns out, she works at a Taco truck down the street and Mei and the others working seemed to know her well. That’s the beauty of the food world. It allows you to know your neighbors, and in Mei, Irene and Andy’s case, when you help those around you succeed, they will do the same for you.
“And, I love food.” Mei admits with a smile. Ah yes, there’s the most important key.