Hitchin’ a Ride: How to Open a Food Truck, Part 1

By Megan Giller  |  June 13, 2014
Credit: Spencer Selvidge

Welcome to Hitchin’ a Ride, a new series that follows former Congress pastry chef Erica Waksmunski as she opens her first trailer, Red Star Southern

My mouth is watering even as Erica mixes the roasted sweet potatoes with flour, butter and lard. On the stove, white gravy bubbles in its pot, and on the counter homemade honey butter gets ready to liven things up.


“I use butter and lard in these,” Erica says, coating the biscuits with the butter. “Because, really, who doesn’t like a little lard?”

Amen to that. Over the years Erica has served this dish (which her mother taught her to make) at dozens of family meals at Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen, Everest in Chicago and Chez TJ in Mountain View, California. In fact, most of the menu at her forthcoming trailer, Red Star Southern, consists of family-meal favorites that are “easy, fast and filling.” The sweet-potato biscuits and gravy will most likely start as a special but may turn into a regular item.


“I haven’t worked savory since I was 19,” she tells me, spooning thickened gravy over the finished biscuit. For such an accomplished pastry chef, a comfort food trailer is certainly a change of pace, but she says she’s looking for a “a new life challenge.” Of course, sweets will still be part of the deal, with specials like her fabulous fried pudding.

Red Star Southern will open in the next few weeks at the Grackle. Before that happy day, she's got quite a few logistics to figure out. It’s not all work, though: “There are occasional margarita breaks.”

Stay tuned next week for the second chapter of Hitchin' a Ride, in which Erica buys a trailer and faces the always logical and timely City of Austin for her permits, inspections and more.

(Photos by Spencer Selvidge)