It’s difficult to envision a line of food trucks parked along Nicollet when there’s still a blanket of snow on the ground. This year one of the new trucks will be Gnocchi.me, created by Rachael Cornelius and Tyler McLeod (above). The pair met while working at the now-closed Champs in downtown Minneapolis. “We both worked a lot of positions within the industry,” says McLeod. “We started traveling and getting interested in local food,” he says. They visited New York, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, and Portland, connecting with those food truck scenes and the sense of community that was created around them.
“We bonded over Italian food and the philosophy behind it,” says McLeod. “It’s seasonal and they use products that grow near them.” The pair decided on gnocchi as the backbone to their menu. “We like serving gnocchi on the streets, because it’s almost ironic. If you serve it on a truck, on the street, it makes it more approachable,” he says. The concept behind Gnocchi.me will be an Italian play on the “meat and potatoes” stigma associated with a Midwestern diet. “We call it Midwest Italian,” he says. There will be a few staples on the menu: potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage (bottom), and short rib ragu with hazelnut remoulade and a parmesan crisp (below). They’ll add seasonal offerings, like nettle gnocchi with lamb ragu, and soups like apple and cave-aged cheddar with smoked croutons (above) and cold cantaloupe with mint. The truck will be outfitted with a sandwich station too, so they can serve panini and piadini to the lunchtime crowd.
“I can’t wait to use fresh tomatoes,” says Cornelius. “Really, any fresh produce. I’m also excited about different kinds of meats,” she says. “I like using duck. I’ve never worked with goat, but I’ve heard good things about it and I want to try it. I don’t like using the standard chicken or beef.” McLeod is looking forward to using local craft beers for their sauces, too. They’re in the midst of creating a sourdough gnocchi batter and have experimented with cold smoked flour.
Look for the Gnocchi.me truck around Grumpy’s in Northeast Minneapolis come early June. In the interim they’ll still have a presence at the Northeast Farmers Market. They hope to work with breweries and at events come summer. The truck — a 1979 Airstream Swat vehicle — will resemble a rustic Italian storefront, with painted images of stacked stones. It’s still under construction. “Everything has gone too right so far,” he says. “So I’m planning on something going wrong. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” For now, the pair feel comfortable with the menu. “We’ve tested our recipes on any Italian grandmother we can find,” says McLeod. “So far, we’ve found two. Both have liked it.”