For those of us who are unitiated: Pierogi, also spelled perogi, pierogy, perogy, pierógi, pyrohy, pirogi, pyrogie, or pyrogy; are dumplings of unleavened dough – first boiled, then baked or fried usually in butter with onions – traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. Of central and eastern European provenance, they are usually semicircular, but are rectangular or triangular in some cuisines. (Source) Or, quite simply: LOVE!
And, in Indianapolis, which has a large and vibrant food truck community, Robert Wilder has been operating Pierogi Love since May of 2013, after moving from Syracuse, NY, with his wife in 2009.
So, I contacted Robert, after he was kind enough to offer to distribute our FoodTruckIn.com decals (anyone else who is interested? please let us know!). I wanted to learn more about him and his Pierogi Love food truck.
Here's what I learned!
Eric: What did you do before you owned a food truck?
Robert: I was a freight train conductor.
Eric: What led you to the idea of starting a food truck?
Robert: My wife and I moved to Indianapolis four years ago. I was eager to get into business for myself; I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I love to cook for people and I really enjoy making people happy. Everybody loves food. It just all adds up.
Eric: Does your wife work on the truck with you?
Robert: No, my wife has a full time career but has been 100% supportive. I work on the truck myself, sometimes for large events my friends volunteer to help for tips. It's really fun work!
Eric: Indianapolis seems to be pretty open to the food truck movement. Do you see it that way? What is one thing that is great and another that is a challenge about operating in Indy?
Robert: I do see Indianapolis as a very welcoming city to food trucks. I think it's great that there are plenty of welcoming foodies, and business love, absolutely LOVE inviting us to their locations. With me only living in Indy for the last few years, my biggest challenge is looking for new locations, and knowing what events are coming up soon enough to get into them.
Eric: Do you do a lot of street service at lunch and dinner time?
Robert: Most of my lunches or dinner are by appointment FedEx, Rolls Royce, AT&T and many of the other larger employers in the area invite me to come and work on their property. I also serve a lot at the local breweries. There are a lot of tours that come through the breweries by bus and those can make for very good nights. I have great relationships with Flat 12, Triton, Indiana City Beer, and Black Acre. They are fun places to have the food trucks; all have great beer, and have really helped me grow my business.
Eric: I know what a pierogi is, but how would you describe them?
Robert: Comfort food. Mashed potatoes stuffed into a dumpling and served piping hot, some with different fillings. Pierogies are dumplings of heaven. And they're not overwhelming. They are the perfect proportion to not overfill you, nor will you leave hungry.
Eric: How many varieties do you serve at a time?
Robert: We always serve our most popular varieties, and will usually have 8-12 types on the truck at any given time.
Eric: Wow! That is a pretty extensive variety!
Robert: Actually, in total, we have about 75 total varieties that we try to cycle in to keep it fresh and for different times of the year.
Eric: What are your most popular and unique pierogis?
Robert: Our famous Loaded Lender, it is 4 potato and cheddar pierogi deep fried, and topped with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chives is our most popular. We have so many unique ones it is hard to choose just one.
Eric: Is there something particular that sets a good pierogi apart from a bad one?
Robert: Fresh ingredients and being hand pinched always make a big difference. But in all of the best pierogis the one thing that makes the biggest difference is LOVE.
Eric: Coming from Syracuse the Indianapolis winter must be a breeze for you. Have you been out all winter?
Robert: A lot of trucks shut down in the winter, being from Syracuse I was ready to run all winter long thinking I could handle the Indianapolis winter, but it was a much tougher winter than usual and then in late December we blew our engine.
Eric: Vehicle problems are something that we hear about often with food trucks! Are you back on the road?
Robert: Not quite yet. It should be back on the road in a couple of weeks. It is definitely not fun, but at least it happened during the slowest part of the year. There is a silver lining. I have a 9 month old baby and have been able to spend a lot of wonderful time with her this winter.
Eric: Do you have a particularly memorable story about any customers or experiences with celebrities eating at your truck?
Robert: I have served a few political, musical, sports, and TV, celebrities. However I'm not going to name drop ;) I always LOVE when a customer comes back to the truck with a mouth full of food and gives me the head nod and a thumbs up. That will never get old.
Eric: Do you have a favorite truck in Indy?
Robert: That's a tough one. I love to eat and when I work with the other local trucks at festivals and events, we end up trading food with each other and it's always all so good. I believe the best food comes from food trucks.
Eric: What city's food truck scene would you most like to visit?
Robert: Atlanta Ga. I went there for training one time before I owned a truck. The restaurants were great. I had food everywhere. I'd love to see what they have on their food trucks.
Eric: Is there a food truck that you would most like to visit someday?
Robert: I'd like to go on a pierogi truck tour and eat at all of the other pierogi trucks.
Eric: Anything else to share?
Robert: My baby girl is hungry, and now I must go feed the princess. It was great chatting.