When you look at the outside of the Sum Pig Food Truck what you are really seeing is Jessica Iannuzzi and Stephen Koste. The colorful truck is covered with graphics of postcards from places in the United States that Iannuzzi and Koste have traveled in the course of their 30-something lives. North Carolina, San Francisco, Michigan, San Diego, New Jersey, Indianapolis, Nashville, Las Vegas and even Quakertown, PA. What you’ll taste coming out of this unique food truck is the “sum” of the culinary influences from all those places.
The “pig” part? “It’s because we welcome people to pig out on our truck!” Iannuzzi says with a laugh. And this is easy to do. Exhibit #1: The Western Sandwich—smoked pork, sharp cheddar, apple wood smoked bacon and barbecue sauce on a rustic roll. Exhibit #2: the Buffalo Chicken Nachos—house made corn tortilla chips topped with chicken, cheese, cilantro, celery seed and blue cheese. And then there’s the Smoked Pork Parfait—smoked pork layered between collard greens and cheesy garlic, mashed potatoes, topped with cheese, bacon and BBQ drizzle. Are you hungry yet?
I met up with Iannuzzi and Koste a couple of weeks ago on an overcast Thursday afternoon. Their truck was parked at the curb in a Newtown office complex, just off the Newtown bypass. There was a line of two dozen people, patiently waiting, and clearly anticipating a delicious lunch.
Despite the wait and the threatening clouds above, everyone was in a good mood. Coworkers and friends joked with each other— “Hey! No butting in line!” I caught snippets of conversations as people mulled over their lunch choices. “I’m getting the Buffalo Chicken Nachos. They were so good last week.” “Yeah, but I want to try the Slaw Dog.” (Two all-beef hotdogs, topped with house-made slaw and sriracha sauce.) As each person walked away from the truck, smiling with food in hand, friends inquired, “Whad’ja get?”
From the looks of the Sum Pig food, I wasn’t surprised. But this was only the second week Iannuzzi and Koste had set up for lunch at this location. They had catered a Cinco de Mayo party here and were so well received that they were asked to come back on a regular basis. (Mark your calendars, Bucks County folks, Thursdays from 11 am to 2 pm at 100 Brandywine Blvd, Newtown.)
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that food trucks are a big food trend right now. I grew up in Philly so of course I’m familiar with the street cart selling pretzels, hot dogs or breakfast sandwiches. But today’s street vendors are gourmet, ethnically diverse and making everything you could want—and then some. Case in point: the Lambertville NiteFare this past Thursday hosted food trucks offering Cajun and creole dishes, poutine, Thai, farm-to-table, empanadas, cupcakes, ice cream, Italian sandwiches, BBQ, cheese steaks and hamburgers, lobster rolls, pizza made-to-order in a wood-fired oven and even hot dogs.
Then there are the Vendy Awards, now in their 10th year, recognizing the best street food vendors in five major American cities, including Philadelphia. The good news? Food trucks are making their way into Bucks County and Sum Pig is one of the first.
Iannuzzi and Koste live in Warminster but travel all over the Philadelphia area. They have a couple of regular gigs, like the one in Newtown, but for the most part they do fairs and festivals, farmers markets and traveling events like the Night Market in Philadelphia, as well as catering parties. Although they have few set hours, you can always see where they will be by checking their Facebook page every Sunday.
Why do two people who love each other, and obviously care deeply for one another, start a business where they will be holed up in a hot truck for hours on end with sharp knives handy? “We’ve learnt a lot about each other in the last few years,” admits Iannuzzi, but she adds, “We were in the beginning of our relationship when we started, so maybe that helped.”
Sum Pig came into being in October 2012, and as Iannuzzi and Koste enter their second summer season, they are still having fun. It may help that the two were friends for ten years before they started dating. They both love cooking and eating good food, and it was a welcome change from working in a title company (Iannuzzi) and managing someone else’s restaurant (Koste).
Iannuzzi is a local girl, hailing from Somerton. Koste grew up “everywhere.” His dad was in the military, and then became a popular disc jockey, so the family moved around a lot. When you taste Sum Pig’s barbecue, you’ll taste the North Carolina influence.
Mondays and Tuesdays are spent prepping in Warminster where Koste smokes 300 pounds of meat for the week. Wednesdays through Sundays, often from early morning until late at night, are spent handing out delicious food all over the Delaware Valley. And although the name implies pork, they offer chicken and beef, and always have vegetarian options on the menu.
The menu changes with the seasons so you’ll find gazpacho in the warmer months. In the fall, you’ll see hearty soups and stews like Crawfish Etouffee, Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Beer Soup and Jambalaya. Iannuzzi and Koste try to source locally whenever possible, getting produce from None Such Farm, bacon and pork from Leidy’s, rolls from Liscio’s and Le Bus, as well as quick stops to Altomonte’s to pick up this and that.
I asked Iannuzzi to name her favorite Sum Pig creation. “Unfortunately I eat nachos every time I’m on the truck. I love the Buffalo Chicken Nachos. It’s based on a recipe that my mom created. She simmered the chicken wings in her own sauce, and now I use that to marinate the chicken we put on the nachos.”
Although the Buffalo Chicken Nachos are always on the menu, you might also find Smoked Pork Nachos and Chili-Cheese Nachos (vegetarian). In fact, nachos are so popular that Iannuzzi and Koste plan to open a nacho truck in the fall.
As they head into another summer of cooking, traveling and long hours, they are still enjoying themselves. Koste hangs out the window, taking orders and calling out first names when the meal is ready. Iannuzzi is a blur, working the line but smiling as she looks out the truck’s window. “I love always being at the party,” she says, “and meeting so many nice, new people from all walks of life.”