Worth getting excited about: Spice Boys, a new food truck from Steven Schmitt and Carl Kolber, will make its public debut this Saturday, March 2, and Sunday, March 3, as part of Dub Fest, a beer and music festival being thrown by JDub's Brewing Company.
Schmitt and Kolber call their cuisine "modern Israeli," citing restaurants like Shaya in New Orleans and The Palomar Restaurant in London and chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi as inspirations, but the menu includes influences from around the Middle East and Mediterranean. You'll see flavorings such as tahini, schug (a spicy salsa), amba (a mango pickle condiment), labneh (dehydrated Greek yogurt) and harissa (a red chili and garlic paste), plus almonds, pine nuts, and cured and preserved lemons.
"We love these flavors," says Kolber, who moved to Sarasota recently to launch the truck with Schmitt. The two have been friends since they were teenagers and went to college together in London. Schmitt trained as a chef and worked in the restaurant industry for a spell. In recent years, he's spent most of his time raising his kids. Kolber, meanwhile, was working to get restaurants off the ground in New York City, but he wasn't excited about his projects. The two hit upon the idea of collaborating last year, and Schmitt's wife, Florence, suggested they do a food truck. Spice Boys was born. Schmitt is the truck's head chef; Kolber is the sous chef, and handles the business side of the operation.
One thing that stands out about the duo's food is their way with vegetables. A sabich is a pita stuffed with eggplant, potato and egg and flavored with tahini, schug and amba. It's a killer vegetarian handheld—tangy, acidic and just spicy enough. The pair makes a short rib flatbread by cooking the beef with a sous vide for 24 hours. The meat comes accented with a carrot and fennel salad, harissa, labneh and almonds. It's delicious. Prices will range from $9 to $15.
After Dub Fest, Schmitt and Kolber have a handful of public events set. The truck will appear next Friday, March 8, at Music on May Lane, a Rosemary District block party. The pair are hoping to nail down a series of steady appearances at breweries, farmers' markets and parking lots, but for now, the best way to keep up is to follow the truck on Facebook or Instagram. And keep an eye out for their instantly recognizable mobile unit—decorated with a tropical print, a huge logo and drawings of Schmitt and Kolber. If you see it rolling down the road, don't let it out of your sight.