Laurie Trujillo-Mamay’s Hamptons Foodie truck at Sagg Main Beach on Monday. Photos by Mara Certic.
By Mara Certic
As August begins and the masses descend in full force upon the East End, it seems to take longer to do everything. Longer lines mean that the simple process of buying a picnic lunch to take to the beach can eat up a full hour of valuable Vitamin-D time. But entrepreneurial gastronomes are providing an option with affordable food trucks just steps from the dunes.
Laurie Trujillo-Mamay grew up in Southern California, where food trucks are a dime a dozen. She has never had any formal training but has fond memories of being young and vigilantly watching her mother’s every move in the kitchen. “I just love to cook,” she said. “I cook for my family and people always said that I should open something up.”
With rental prices through the roof, opening up an actual restaurant was not an option for Ms. Trujillo-Mamay. One day, a little over 10 years ago, Ms. Trujillo-Mamay saw a food truck for sale in Montauk and decided to look into the feasibility of opening up her own.
Now, her truck ,“The Hamptons Foodie,” is in its 10th year, and has been feeding beachgoers at Sagg Main Beach for the past six summers. Her menu changes and she is always coming up with new recipes, she said. She predominately makes what she describes as “food for foodies.”
Kale and vegetable dumplings are new to the menu this year, and her sesame noodles and fish tacos are also particularly popular. But then again, so are her burgers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. “There’s gotta be some things that you cater to everyone,” she said, adding that people often compliment her on her wide range of choices.
“It’s all about good food, friends and family,” she said, and she was not kidding. Not only have Ms. Trujillo-Mamay’s daughter, mother, niece and nephew all helped out in the truck at times, but this summer she has also employed two other groups of mothers and daughters to work in the truck on the busy weekends.
Family involvement is pretty common in the food truck business, it seems, if Montauk-mainstays The Beach Dog and The Ditch Witch provide any indication. The Ditch Witch, located near East Deck motel in Montauk, is the original alternative food truck and is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary this season.
Lili Adams has run the Ditch Witch since 1994, and her children both help her with the day-to-day operations, as do other local kids, year after year. A ceramic tip jar sculpted by local artist Maura Donahue has the words “college fund” taped onto it.
The Ditch Witch serves a range of sandwiches, wraps, and salads as well as a large selection of iced teas, coffees and other drinks. An extensive special menu changes over the season. Last week it included exotic options such as a bahn mi sandwich and Thai chicken wraps.
Pickier eaters can find a selection of hot dogs, grilled cheeses and nachos around the corner at the first parking lot at Ditch Plains. Sisters Jenna and Jaime Bogetti have worked in their grandfather’s food truck, “The Beach Dog,” for years. Jenna, now 24, recalls helping her grandfather, John Bogetti, out from the age of around 12. Mr. Bogetti was in a car crash in May, and so this year his granddaughters have been running the truck on their own.
“The Beach Dog” has been around for 25 years, according to Ms. Bogetti, but this year the girls are running the business out of their cousin’s truck, a grilled cheese truck aptly named “Beacheesy.” But the name shouldn’t fool anyone. Their menu is the same that it always has been and hot dogs are available with all the fixings every day it doesn’t rain.
One of the newest food trucks to the East End is the Purple Truck, owned and run out of Indian Wells Beach by best friends Kerri Wright and Kristen Walles. “Well, we’re family,” Ms. Walles said. The women met at basketball camp when they were 15 and “have been best friends ever since.” Ms. Walles had the idea of opening up a truck serving acai bowls after traveling to Hawaii with her boyfriend, Leif Engstrom, a professional surfer from Montauk.
“We talked about it a lot when we were Australia and we said we should definitely do it. And then we got back here and we said, no really let’s do it.” Ms. Wright said. As restaurants in the Hamptons began to focus more on healthy eating, Ms. Wright and Ms. Walles decided it was the right time to bring the anti-oxidant-filled Brazilian berries to the East End. Their very purple Purple Truck sells dairy-free smoothies and smoothie bowls topped with granola and fresh fruit every day. “We just thought people would love it,” Ms. Wright said.
“We don’t add anything else to it, we don’t add sugar,” she said, but added that their younger customers are fans of the Reeses bites and chocolate chips that they keep on hand in the truck.
Occasionally, Ms. Walles’s brother and father help them out, but usually the two girls run the show alone. “It’s easier for us because we understand each other without talking,” Ms. Wright said. “We just balance each other out and it’s good teamwork.”
All four of the trucks are at their spots every day (except during downpours,) during the summer season. On Friday, August 9, East Enders will get a chance to sample food from over a dozen food trucks from as far away as Manhattan that will congregate at Hayground School for the third annual Great Food Truck Derby. The general admission price is $65, and guests can taste samples from each truck. Ms. Trujillo-Mamay and the Hamptons Foodie will be there.