You may not know it but the Brava food truck was once She Royal, and She Royal was the first mobile food license granted in Minneapolis, long before we had any kind of food truck scene.
The "she" behind the window was and is Hanna Benti, an Ethiopian-American chef with a fierce and loyal following for her vegan and gluten-free Ethiopian cooking.
Though they're in competition, food truck operators are also something of a fraternity, navigating the same relatively uncharted waters together. Chef Shack partners Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson were also among the first to dive in, and they feel a natural affinity with Benti.
It's certainly on trend for food truck operators to open brick-and-mortars after a couple of seasons, but that isn't a reality for everyone, so enter what could be a natural symbiotic relationship: the collaboration.
"She's [one of the few] women of color doing this, and we want to stand behind her as champions for what she's doing," said Summer.
What she's doing is cooking some of the best, most authentic Ethiopian food available locally, and Summer is quick to point out that they aren't just providing a home for Benti over the winter months -- it's a collaboration.
"You don't usually get to learn to cook these cuisines unless you go to the countries and learn from the women," says Summer. "This is an old, ancient, deeply rooted indigenous cuisine and I'm very proud to be learning it from her."
And in exchange, they've assisted Benti in introducing her to some French technique, which helps streamline large-batch cooking.
The vegetarian sampler on offer at the Ranch includes berbere lentils, Yukon gold potato and beet sautee, curried cabbage and collard greens, and fresh injera bread from Shega Foods -- considered to be the best injera bread available locallly. Injera is made from teff flour and is naturally gluten free.
Thanks to its healthy/high flavor ratio, Summer believes Ethiopian and other African cuisines are next in line for the world to stand up and take notice. "It's satisfying, warm, rich, and gluten and dairy free."
Another bit of good news from the ranch: They've finally got a phone, so you may pre-order takeout, including the vegetarian sampler, by calling 612-354-2575.
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