They say when one door closes, another one opens. In the case of Gumbo Kitchen, the door that closed was the bar of brother/sister team Michael and Genevieve Cotter, Bar None, when a roof fire ripped through the place almost exactly a year ago.
But from that temporary setback for the Cotters (who now have Bar None back up and running, doling out cocktails to the Camberwell crowd), Michael, along with business partners Patricia Stanton and Elvin Ho created Gumbo Kitchen – a mobile food truck cruising the streets of Melbourne’s north, blaring New Orleans brass band jazz and serving up authentic Creole food.
Po’ boys are a New Orleans classic: fluffy bread rolls stuffed with, in this case, everything from spiced, deep fried shrimp or oysters to ‘beef debris’ (shredded, slow cooked beef in a rich gravy topped with all the accoutrements). Both the seafood and meat versions are in hot demand, along with a ‘surf and turf’ combination of the two, hailed as the ultimate hangover cure on a Saturday or Sunday.
As the name suggests, they’re also serving an array of classic, southern-style Louisiana gumbo stews, featuring fresh seafood or chicken and smoky sausage cooked up with southern vegetables in a lively filé spice ground from the aromatic dried leaves of the sassafras tree.
A vegetarian option is generally also on offer while, at the sweet end of the spectrum, the ‘Lemon Ice Box Pie’ is odds-on to become a summer staple on more than one Melbourne menu.
Daily Facebook and Twitter posts give last minute lunch and/or dinner locations, and they have a Friday night residency of sorts at Lux Foundry in Brunswick, where you can get a cold beer with your southern fare from 5.30pm. It’s a luxury generally not afforded by the other food trucks around and one that seems appropriate for anything labelling itself ‘authentic N’Awleans’.