Gracie’s and Savory: CIA Grads’ Trucks Make Old New
By Jamie Larson
One might assume that two food trucks, both run by Culinary Institute of America grads, would be experimenting with cultural fusion or molecular gastronomy. Interestingly, and luckily for us, the Gracie’s and Savory Delicatessen food trucks, both located (most weekends) in the open air food court at 347 Warren Street in Hudson, are applying their considerable skill to the task of elevating American classics, simple in appearance but remarkable in execution.
Gracie’s, helmed by chef Andrew Speilberg and baker/pastry chef Allyson Merritt (they’re partners in business as well as in life), is focusing on preparing perfect fast food-style burgers, fries and doughnuts. Everything is made entirely from scratch with the highest quality, locally sourced ingredients. Mike Freeman, only a few feet away in the bright orange Savory truck, is putting out deli staples like a pastrami on rye with meat cured, brined, smoked and prepared over an 11-day process.
“It’s tedious but it’s worth it,” Freeman says of making the pastrami, which shares the menu with homemade smoked ham and turkey as well as a slow-cooked porchetta that just falls apart. “I sometimes think of it as an Italian pulled pork.”
Freeman said he tossed around a number of ideas before settling on a deli truck. “I think it represents my culinary background,” he says, “and I wanted to bring Hudson something it was missing, a true deli.”
In the jet black Gracie’s truck next door, Merritt says that because they’re making perhaps the most ubiquitous American food items, their challenge is to make them the absolute best, with everything made from scratch, down to the American cheese. Merritt makes the inspired doughnuts, which change for the seasonality of the week, and the pillowy seeded buns that perfectly complement the burgers within.
“We make everything from local ingredients and grind our beef fresh every day,” says Merritt, who makes six different types of doughnuts each week, from classic chocolate to mint julep for Derby weekend. “But we try not to over emphasize that because we want the food to speak for itself. All of our recipes, everything we do, we’ve tested over and over.”
The burgers are magical. Humble in appearance, they look and are packaged like classic drive-thru fare, but due to the quality of the ingredients, including meat from Merritt’s cousin’s farm (Johnnycake Mountain Farm), the flavor in every bite is somehow both balanced and explosive. Even the ketchup (made from scratch) is incredible. Some Hudsonians have expressed relief Gracie’s is open only on weekends because it’s so addictive.
“People tell us they look forward to it,” Merritt says with a humble chuckle. “I think there will always be space for more novelty food trucks but seeing trucks do classic food elevated is really nice.”
Merritt makes it no secret that the truck is a stepping-stone to finance their inevitable brick and mortar restaurant. So enjoy the perfect fast-food burger before the two chefs take off their wheels.
Gracie’s and Savory appeal to their customer’s nostalgia as much as their hunger by offering food Americans gleefully devoured before they began counting calories. Those juicy burgers you ate as a child fresh from the grill on summer nights or the porchetta grandpa made can be relished all over again with a trip to the food trucks.
Both Gracie’s and Savory will occasionally be driving to other locations around the region for events and festivals, so keep an eye on their schedule before heading their way.
347 Warren Street Hudson, NY
(Check website for event dates elsewhere.)
Hours: Thursday - Sunday, Noon - 7 p.m.