Ferdia MagLochlainn started Home Fries with his girlfriend Sarah in 2012 when they debuted their pan-fried baby potatoes at Spirit of Folk festival. This year, they’ve gone on the road with their Home Fries Caravan and are bringing their festival cure all over the country this summer.
Tell us the story behind Home Fries and the process of taking your food truck from an idea to a reality?
I’ve always enjoyed feeding people, but it was never my intention to get into the food business. It started off when I helped out my friends who run Vantastival. They needed someone to cook for their crew and I thought I’d give it a go. Initially my kitchen was a bit rough and ready, just a tent in a field and my first crew stews were cooked in a beer keg. Things have come on a lot since then. After getting the hang of cooking such large volumes I decided to try my hand at setting up my own festival food stall. All the ideas for Home Fries came from long brainstorming walks with my girlfriend Sarah. Making them a reality was a gradual process, luckily I had the help of some good friends to lighten the work load.
Your culinary caravan is particularly cute. What is its story? What journeys had it been on before becoming The Home Fries wagon?
It was rescued from a life of rusting neglect in a north Dublin sea side town. It’d had adventures before that; forty years of rambling along country lanes, ferries to Wales, France and maybe further. Just think what craic would have been had inside those aluminium walls. When I got it, it was a mess, but after six weeks of hard work it looked better than I ever imagined. It’s great to know that we have extended its life so it can continue on its journey.
Your debut was at Vantastival in May 2014. What lessons did you learn from your first outing? Were there any surprises or lessons learned?
We’ve actually had a few incarnations before the Home Fries wagon. Our first ever event was Spirit of Folk 2012. We were so excited to be cooking for so many people we completely forgot to bring any lights for our unit. As night fell we realised our error and had to run around scrounging what we could. We had to resort to lighting our menu boards by candle light. It’s been a constant learning curve since then, but thankfully it’s getting easier.
Tell us about your food. Do you see your menu evolving or have you got it all set?
It’s all about the Home Fries. We make really tasty pan-fried baby potatoes that go really well with everything. At the moment we’ve got a very tasty homemade bravas sauce and a lovely chorizo and roasted red pepper stew, amongst other things. But this can change depending on the event and I’m always on the look-out for new flavours. Something we didn’t expect is that people really like to mix and match from our menu. There have been requests for some interesting flavour combinations. So far we’ve never said no.
If I’m at a festival and I’m hungry, why should I pay you guys a visit?
Festival food has come on a long way in the last few years. And I think we’re out there striving to make it even better. We offer something different. Our Home Fries are healthier than conventional chips and fries, as well as being tasty, wholesome and filling. Almost all of our menu is gluten free, and we’ve got vegetarian and vegan options, but we never forget about the meat lovers. Also, spuds are great to cure what ails ya after a long night at a festival!
Do you think food trucks are on the rise in Dublin or do we just not have the climate?
I think food trucks are going to catch on in a big way in this town, we just need to adapt to suit our predictably unpredictable weather. I’m part of a new collective called Food Truck City. We want to set up a late night, indoor food truck market. We envisage a place where the wagons are circled, people are eating, and drinking and listening to great music, somewhere you can have a coffee or a five course meal.
Where else are you taking the van this summer?
So far this year we’ve been to Vantastival, Forbidden Fruit, Body and Soul and Sea Sessions. We’re really looking forward to the rest of the summer. In July you’ll be able to catch us at Longitude, Knockanstockan and Castlepalooza. In September we’ll be at Electric Picnic and Spirit of Folk Festival. Come check us out and try our delicious Home Fries for yourself. The great and unexpected thing has been the amount of invites we’ve been getting to do other events, from bike festivals to wedding parties. So you could see us anywhere!
RECIPE: The Perfect Home Fries
By Ferdia MacLouchlainn
Baby potatoes (100g per person should do it)
Boil the baby potatoes until tender, then let them cool down and dry off. If you’re making these at home you could even use yesterday’s leftovers from the fridge.
I’ve found that it’s best to fry them whole in olive oil. Heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan and add the cooled baby potatoes. Don’t overcrowd the pan as they need room to really crisp up. When their delicate skins have turned a lovely golden colour cut each one in half in the pan and allow the newly exposed parts to colour too.
Then simply season with sea salt, cracked pepper and mixed herbs.
Why not try them with one of our favourite festival combinations of streaky bacon, cheese and country relish.
For all our other delicious recipes you’re just going to have to come along and try figure them out for yourselves!
Words: Aoife McElwain