Michael Brown of Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express
What they're packin': New Orleans- style dishes with a familiar, easy twist: Think Cajun favorites like Andouille sausage and shrimp, chicken and rice doused with zesty Creole and Etoufee sauce - all wrapped in a handy tortilla. There are even Cajun or Creole Tacos on the menu, served with cabbage slaw and black bean and corn salsa.
|Last Saturday's Menu|
Read more about Jamburritos after the jump.
Where'd you get the name?
MB: Basically, our signature item is Jambalaya in a burrito, so we took the words and molded them together. The name can mean different things to different people, though. Some people say it's a burrito that "jams." A burrito also seems to lend itself to quick service, and it's a Cajun grill express.
Describe your culinary background:
|The BBQ Chicken Jamburrito with Hush Puppies|
MB: I studied restaurant and hotel management and in the 80's, I went to New Orleans, knocked on doors and asked people to teach me Cajun cooking. Later I became the executive chef of a successful Cajun restaurant in the tri-state area; we expanded to two more in less than 6 years. But I wanted to serve more people and in a quicker way.
Describe any issues you came across with getting your operation off the ground:
MB: My mentor was instrumental in getting me through the permit process and with his guidance, no issues arose. The biggest challenge in the business is that we're pioneers in Arizona. [A mobile food truck] is not as embraced here as much as in L.A. or New York, so that's difficult.
Do you get people who are a little skeptical of the cart?
MB: If they're at the truck, their skepticism has been overcome, but most of the time it's people from New Orleans or hardcore Cajun fans who are skeptics of the Jambaylaya-in-a-burrito concept. My biggest excitement though is when newcomers approach and order a jamburrito, no questions asked.
With plans of expanding to 16 brick-and-mortar locations in the next five years, Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express currently sets up at the Phoenix Public Market from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and every third Thursday at the Whole Foods on Raintree in Scottsdale. Brown will have a cooking class at the Phoenix Public Market at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10; you can sign up here.