Crepes A La Carte Serves Up Authentic European Recipes
The Food Truck and Food Cart scene in Columbus has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three years. Not a month goes by anymore where there’s not a new truck or cart launching, which can make it hard to keep up with them all.
Crepes A La Carte is a new one that launched earlier this year. Owner Rosa Huff slings both sweet and savory crepes from her cart in various locations around Columbus.
We spoke with Rosa recently for a Q&A about the types of crepes she loves and how life in the mobile food business has treated her this summer:
Q: First, can you give us a bit of background about yourself as it relates to your business?
A: Crepes A La Carte was born out of the combination of all my hobbies. I love to travel. I love to cook and my family loves to entertain friends. On our trips to Europe, we’ve enjoyed this very simple treat called crepes that we found sold on streets of London and Paris, out of push carts.
Crepes are basically warm, paper-thin pancakes filled with seasonal fruits, sugar, cinnamon or just a sprinkle of lemon. It was a very simple dessert that garnished with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or warm caramel that us wanting more! A few more trips made us realize that crepes were not just for desserts but Europeans were actually eating their deli meats or cooked specialties, wrapped in these warm, thin crepes.
Q: So what caused you to want to launch your own food cart?
A: There were not many crepe vendors in Central Ohio. The ones I’ve tried didn’t seem to match the authentic ones I’ve enjoyed. In 2010, I bought myself a crepe maker online and it was shipped from Europe. It took almost eight weeks to get to Ohio! In addition to getting the right equipment, I started experimenting with the batter. It took me a whole year of experimenting with batter. Sweet batter isn’t the same as the savory batter so we had to make, test and taste and then repeat the whole process till I was happy with it. It took us a whole year of tastings; inviting and feeding friends to perfect our batter recipe.
Q: How have your crepes been received so far this summer?
A: Very well! Central Ohioans have a very sophisticated palate. They like trying new things but they also know a good crepe when they see one. Those who know what crepes are always pleasantly surprised that they are just the way they remember them — warm and thin. You’ll be surprised at the conversations and memories that customers share about eating crepes. I’ve had a lady in a wheelchair, in her 80s, be close to tears when she saw the crepe maker (I lovingly served her a very simple butter and lemon crepe – just like she remembered when her father took her on a trip to Europe when she turned 18). And a Serbian couple who saw us at the recent Independent’s Day, told us all about how they grew up with crepes and how their moms made them (the guy’s mom made them differently than the lady’s — a discussion ensued). Finally, there was an older gentleman who asked us a lot of questions how we made crepes — he asked things like, is it thin? How thin? Do you put whipped cream on your crepes? No. Do you have the same batter for sweet and savory? No. Okay good, he says. I just want to make sure it’s the right kind of crepes – sometimes they don’t serve it like they should. It was a high compliment when he came back to acknowledge that they were authentic.
Those who’ve never had crepes love watching me make them. Crepes are made with a very special crepe spreader. You pour the batter on a round 15” griddle, then you use the crepe spreader and “twirl” the batter around. Universally, people think it’s so easy! Can I try to make one myself? The answer is always yes and the reaction is consistent, “oh my! It’s not that easy!” Of course after a few tries you do get the ‘hang’ of it and voila! a perfectly brown, somewhat crisp on the edges, warm crepe.
Q: Have you participate in a lot of the festivals or events this summer?
A: This October, we will start being outside the Columbus Museum of Art on Mondays, Franklin University on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then Bexley at the Natural Foods Market on Cassady on Wednesdays. We also do the Cart Day at the Dinin’ Hall on certain Fridays of the months. We are always at Festivals or sometimes we get invited to High School football games in the suburbs. This past summer, we were at the Goodale Park every Sunday for their Music Series and their Friday night movies. We also do small private parties – 75 people is the most we can serve at any given time but those are FUN events to cater.
Q: Any specific menu items seem to be customer favorites?
A: On our savory menu, our Sweet Chicken Korma or Caprese (tomato, mozzarella and basil) crepes are popular. On the sweet crepes, our Seasonal Fruits and Nutella are the best sellers.
Q: So what’s the difference between French crepes and Japanese crepes?
A: The crepes themselves are the same but Japanese crepes are ice cream-filled. Yum!
Q: Any upcoming events or places our readers can find you?
A: We are going to be in Worthington on September 29 at the Igloo Letterpress’ 3rd Anniversary Bazaar with many rock star crafters like Shift Studios, Little Aloutte, AmyD, and more. This is the same day as the Worthington Market Day from 9am – 4:30pm. It’s going to be a great festival!
More information can be found online at the Crepes A La Carte Facebook Page.