Outside Court, Extrovert Cooks Up A Slider
by Melissa Bailey | Jan 14, 2013 12:21 pm
Posted to: Food, Downtown, Chef Of The Week
A SWAT truck pulled up outside a downtown courthouse. Donald Henick pulled out the heavy artillery—beets and alfalfa sprouts for a foodie invasion.
Henick, who’s 52, served up the signature dish, a beet slider, one recent afternoon outside the Superior Court at 235 Church St. He was standing inside a former New York City SWAT van that he converted into a decked-out food truck with a full commercial kitchen. The truck is called Food Extrovert. Henick also runs a blog by the same name.
“You get me started talking about food, and I can talk all day,” Henick said.
His truck offers a variety of sliders, salads and soups with a gourmet bent. The pork slider has broccoli rabe. The steak salad rests on a bed of soba noodles.
His favorite item on the menu: the beet slider.
“That’s b-e-e-T,” he clarified. He also sells beef sliders. He doesn’t want customers to be confused or disappointed when they bite into their bun.
The beet slider started with a whole-wheat potato bun, which he toasted lightly on the grill. Then he smeared one side with honey mustard and dunked it in a little cup of sunflower seeds. (Click on the play arrow to the above video to watch him make the slider.)
Henick has no training as a chef, but he’s been experimenting and sharing food for years. “I love to cook,” he said.
Originally from Long Island, Henick lives in Westbrook with his wife, Abra Rice. He spent the first 20 years of his adult life, from age 17 to 37, working as a bartender. He served drinks in more places than he can remember—dinner theater, rock club, sports bar, scotch bar, Italian restaurant, lots of Irish pubs, and a Boston night club called Zanzibar, where he met his wife. Rice (whom Minnie Driver portrayed in the Hollywood film Conviction) is now a public defender at the Superior Court on Elm Street.
The courthouse crowd has provided a loyal client base in Henick’s new endeavor, which launched in mid-October. Henick said he aims to bring healthful fare to the downtown lunch circuit. The menu, which changes daily, offers low-fat, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. On Friday, he doled out a vegan soup of butternut squash, Swiss chard and organic quinoa.
The beet slider is one of the more inventive vegetarian options. On top of the mustard-slathered bun, he piled shaved carrots and a big slice of roasted beet.
He said he doesn’t want his food to leave his customers with a heavy feeling as they might after chowing down on pizza or pad thai.
“When people go back to work from lunch, I want them to feel like they can still function,” he said.
On top of the beet, he sprinkled feta cheese made from sheep’s milk. He topped it off with alfalfa sprouts.
He packaged it in a biodegradable cardboard clam-shell container, an eco-friendly alternative to the Styrofoam more prevalent at food trucks. (“You can bury these in your backyard,” he said.)
A former math teacher and car inspector, Henick is clearly enjoying sharing his epicurean experiments, such as the “monkey bite.” That’s a little muffin packed with carrot, flax seed, apricot, apples, cranberries, almonds, and a touch of cream cheese (3 for $2).
At the lunch hour, his fish tacos ($8) ...
... Caesar salad ($4) ...
... and turkey meatball salad ($5), all served up by Andrea Cost, proved popular.
The Food Extrovert parks at Church and Wall streets on Tuesdays to Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can follow his daily menu updates on Twitter.
Tags: Donald Henick, Food Extrovert, Beet Slider
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