Although neither Eric Muyldermans nor Jeff “The Chef” Howard had any professional culinary experience, they recently found themselves starting their own food truck.
Specializing in authentic Belgian waffles, Wafel Guys officially opened for business in West Campus four weeks ago. The idea for starting the truck came when Muyldermans, a Belgium native, began bringing homemade waffles to family game nights.
“I would always tell him that [his] waffles were amazing,” Howard said. “After enough convincing, we finally began seriously working on perfecting his grandma’s Belgian waffles recipe.”
Muyldermans gained his appreciation for the pastry from his grandmother, who loved to bake for her grandchildren.
“There were so many grandchildren, so she never really bought us birthday presents,” Muyldermans said. “Instead, she would ask each of us what our favorite baked treat was and make that for our birthdays. I always loved her waffles.”
Howard said their current West Campus location was initially just a temporary spot while they waited for their permanent location at a bar downtown to be ready. But the Wafel Guys quickly realized that West Campus was where they wanted to be.
“We love interacting with the students,” Howard said. “They always bring great ideas and great perspective.”
Electrical engineering junior and first-time customer Nick Blackley recently tried the Monsieur One, a waffle with ham, cheese, tomato and basil.
“I like how you can really taste all the individual ingredients, and on top of that, it’s a fantastic waffle,” Blackley said. “I would definitely come back.”
What sets Belgian waffles apart from other waffles is the pearl sugar they’re cooked with, which melts while the dough begins to cook and rise. Since this sugar is only produced by two companies in the world, Muyldermans said they source it directly from Belgium.
The final product pulled off the iron truly does stand out amongst other waffles in Austin. Its sweetness could easily stand on its own, but that doesn’t stop the Wafel Guys from adding a slew of topping combinations to their menu.
The standout dessert waffle is The Berry One, upon which the chefs spread Nutella and dump a generous pile of strawberries and blueberries. It works particularly well because the tartness of the
berries balances out what could easily become an overpowering sweetness from the Nutella and waffle.
Where the Wafel Guys truly shine, though, is their sweet and salty combinations. The Chicken One, in particular, takes a different approach to chicken and waffles, substituting fried chicken with chicken vol-au-vent, a popular French dish consisting of a cream of mushroom roux with white chicken meat. The creamy and peppery topping never completely masks the trademark sweetness of the waffle. Instead, the two distinct flavors come together to amplify one another with every bite, creating the most noteworthy chicken-and-waffles attempt in Austin right now.
Although Wafel Guys is succeeding with its current products, Muyldermans and Howard are still open to change.
“We are always trying to grow and expand ideas,” Howard said. “These waffle are our main products, but we will never shut ourselves to outside input. If anyone ever has an idea for improvement for us, we will gladly take it.”`
Address: 2401 Rio Grande
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 7 p.m.-12 a.m. Thursday-Saturday 7 p.m.-2 a.m.
Recommended Dish: The Chicken One