Jeff Kraus Explains What's Cool About Food Trucks, Waxes Nostalgic for S.O.S. and Names Four Over-Hyped Food Terms He Wishes Would Go Away
7520 S. Rural Road, Tempe
This is part one of my interview with Jeff Kraus, chef-owner of the recently opened Crepe Bar and former owner of TruckinGoodFood, a food truck famous for its crepes. Come back on Tuesday for part two, when Kraus reveals his science-nerd side and explains why he admires Eliot Wexler and Josh Hebert.
Jeff Kraus is a hippie born 25 years too late. He's mellow, positive, and, yes, a little spacy, and he wants to make the world a better place -- one crepe, one gluten-free cake, and one perfect pour-over coffee at a time. Of course, his ready smile and inherent sweetness could also be the result of a happy childhood (he speaks of his family often) and the kind of Midwestern upbringing that fosters openness and sincerity.
He describes the nascent Jeff Kraus as a "super-young, super-naive vegetarian," trying to find himself when he enrolled in The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago after high school. A few months in, he dropped out and started rambling, taking a job at a gas station/restaurant in Tennessee, where he pumped gas and fried chicken (gack!).
More rambling and a few catering gigs later, Kraus landed at AMF Bowling (he grew up bowling and bowled regionally for a time), working in Food and Beverage Management for three years. When a college degree seemed like a good idea, Kraus earned a bachelor's in Behavioral Science, later taking a job in ad sales at the Indianapolis Star.
On a recreational trip to Lake Tahoe, he had a layover in Phoenix and fell in love at first sight, asked for a transfer from Gannett and landed here in 2006. Later, he jumped to Monster, where he stayed for another three years before a trip to Paris changed his life.
Electrified by the freewheeling aspects of street food and not being a "tie guy", he came back to Phoenix and founded Truckin' Good Food, winning Best Food Truck from New Times and 8th Most Influential Food Truck from Klout in 2010. In 2011, Kraus earned America's Top 20 Mobile Concept award from QSR, and just this summer, he and his partner Erin Ware opened Crepe Bar in Tempe, where he hopes to build a small community of friends and food-lovers.