Objectively speaking, there’s no better part of island life than enjoying tongue awakening sweet and spicy flavors that dance around with salty fireworks while laying in the summer sun. As of this week, Austinites don’t have to travel to Haiti to get the experience.
The Kreyol Korner food truck is the city’s first gourmet Haitian food truck. Its menu features an array of Caribbean plates intended to send visitors back to the kitchens of the founders’ families, where the recipes originated.
“There is a huge misrepresentation of Haiti and what it is about,” said co-owner Nahika Hillery. “One thing we have that definitely stands out is our rich cuisine. I was very motivated to make sure we can get our food here and expose it to people that have never tried it before.”
Hillery said she felt there was a lack of West Indian food in Austin so , she decided to fill that gap with a piece of her heritage.
An Austin charter school teacher turned chef, Hillery said she always considered going into the food business after inheriting a love for cooking from her family.
“One thing that is huge among my family is we all get together to enjoy a meal that may take some time to make,” Hillery said. “It is definitely a process to make, but once you eat the food you know it has been made with love.”
Christelle Joseph, the Kreyol Korner co-owner, said most of the recipes they will share with the public are family recipes that they learned throughout their lives. In order to make them in Austin, she said they have to import some of the ingredients directly from Haiti.
“We have a lot of fried food, rice and beans, [and] staple dishes that we have at our celebrations,” Joseph said. “Everyday food that we eat [is] rich with different flavors—fresh vegetables, herbs and spices.”
When deciding where to put the food truck, Joseph said they believed Austin to be the perfect spot after moving here because of the growing cultural diversity.
“Austin is this huge melting pot food-wise [and] people-wise, and it is expanding every day,” Joseph said.
Alumni J Muzacz, the artist who decorated the truck, said he drew inspirations from Haitian art and culture after doing extensive research on the island.
“After seeing the logo and speaking with Nahika, I did some of my own research looking up Haitian artists and Cuban and Caribbean iconic artworks,” Muzacz said. “Absorbing all that, we decided on this beach theme and the backside is a rework of an iconic market scene with some figures and ladies.”
Joseph said they hope to serve up a piece of Haiti, a dash of Caribbean sunshine and a sprinkle of happiness in each of their dishes. .
“Bringing that [island feeling] here kind of changes the game,” Joseph said. “We have tacos, Asian [food], but there is nothing like Caribbean food. It’s a comfort food for us and people feel that when they are eating it—they can taste everything in there and there is something for everyone.”