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Keeping Baton Rouge Weird

The importance of trying to keep local college graduates in Baton Rouge

photo and graphic by Rachel Blanc

Advertising major Jody Andries gives a thumbs up to LSU's upcoming Fall Commencement Ceremony.

Columnist J.R. Ball. sat alert in his office at the Baton Rouge Business Report as he discussed one of the goals he has had for years—making Baton Rouge an attractive place for young professionals.  “I don’t think a 55-year-old person in Bocage who is a stockbroker is going to wake up one day and say, ‘You know everything about Baton Rouge that made me rich and successful? We’re going to throw it out the window. I want to lead the change to make Baton Rouge weird!’” According to Ball, it’s up to the youth of the city to remain here and start making some changes.

There are a number of reasons college students leave Baton Rouge to seek jobs elsewhere. According to Louisiana State University’s Career Services Director, Dr. Mary D. Feduccia, out of all LSU students who go out-of-state for work, the greatest number go to Houston because it’s a big city with opportunities that is close enough for them to easily return to Louisiana. Austin is another city in Texas that sparkles to young, like-minded and educated professionals. Ball said whether it is Lake Travis, the springs or the nightlife on Sixth Street, all add to the Austin’s quality of life, making it a desirable place to live. Atlanta, Ga. is very big for African Americans for those same reasons.

But according to data from surveys given by Career Services, the percentage of LSU students who remain in Baton Rouge and remain in-state after graduation has increased in the past five years. “If you look at the large companies that our Governor and Department of Economic Development have enticed to move into Louisiana, there are a lot of opportunities for business and engineering majors,”  said Feduccia. If you’re specializing in Animation, Digital Media or Electronic Media, Ball said Baton Rouge is a great place to be. Tax credit programs in the city have been put into play along with incubators to foster many entrepreneurs too.

When you go to another city, you are just sort of blending into the tapestry, said Ball. Here, there is an opportunity for those who have the desire to be a leader and to be part of creating something within a city that has tremendous potential.

“The challenge with Baton Rouge right now is we don’t have the desirable jobs in large numbers,” said Ball. According to the city’s Economic Development Plan within FUTUREBR, the 2011 East Baton Rouge Comprehensive Plan, local university graduates were continuing to seek employment opportunities in cities such as Charlotte, Houston and Atlanta. Besides the responsibilities of a job, the salary, the benefits and the chances for advancement, quality of life was found to be one of the most important factors students took into account when trying to choose a career location.

“[Baton Rouge] has got to be a live, work, play environment 24/7,” said Ball. He and his colleagues have encouraged this effort to keep the educated Baton Rouge youth from leaving by leading the charge on the downtown library, beating the drum for creating an entertainment district downtown and fighting for the nine-hole golf course at City Park be put to better use, using the property to grow gardens on, build an amphitheater, a coffee shop, walking trails and bike paths—basically a community gathering spot. “Baton Rouge is set up for isolation. It needs to be set up for collaboration.”

However, at the end of the day there is only so much government can do, and at some point a common desire must become woven within the people. “Ultimately we need to get a creative mass going,” Ball said. “They’re not keeping Austin weird because the government in Austin wants to keep it weird. It’s a mindset of the people who live there.”

Ball shifted in his chair with hands as animated as he hoped the youth in our city would someday be. “People ask ‘what is the future of Baton Rouge,’ and I say I don’t know, it’s rattling around in the head of some 25-year-old. And the key is you need that 25-year-old to stay here, not go to Austin.”


Jerry Lee Keeps Flavor A Family Tradition

At a quaint house set back from an old Central road, two youngsters screamed with excitement as their grandpa chased them with a lasso rope in hand and a big smile on his face. In the distance, a pair of horses stood with thick tails that swayed from side to side. A mixture of spicy aromas and a warm feeling of southern hospitality became stronger with every step taken closer to the Duplantis home.

If anyone should be given credit for keeping Cajun flavor alive in Louisiana it’s Gerard Lee Duplantis, better known as Jerry Lee of Jerry Lee’s Cajun Foods in Baton Rouge, the king of boudin whose hands have held a seasoning secret for 33 years. He may be king now, but it didn’t come easy. This is a story of hard work and sacrifice by Duplantis and his family—a story that begins with Duplantis’ father and mother and his Cajun French heritage.

 Duplantis began his story with family. Not the family that sat glued to his side at the dining room table just yet. Instead the 63-year-old decided to jump back in time, noting that he wouldn’t be here if not for his father and mother. His gray beard moved a bit when he spoke, and words rolled off his tongue reflecting his Cajun French heritage.

Fifty years ago Harold Armond Duplantis laid eyes on Helen Adele Rist in a small café along the railroad tracks of Slidell. Once they married, they moved across the Bayou Teche and decided to start a family. This is where it all began, said Duplantis proudly holding out an old black and white photo of his brothers and sisters. You could tell he was about to dig deep into one of his favorite subjects.

Growing up with nine siblings on a sugarcane farm in St. Martinsville, La. was everything but boring, he said. Animals were always around. They raised pigs, cattle and chickens for money and food for their own tummies. With only one heater, their two-bedroom shotgun home would sometimes get so cold that water left in pots on the counter would freeze overnight.

They were poor, he said, but they worked together. He always enjoyed watching his father and brothers cook. They taught him that a chicken can easily be de-feathered by soaking it in hot water. He also learned to make hogs head cheese, an item that later became one of the best sellers on Jerry Lee’s menu.

As a young boy, Duplantis browsed through small stores in the area and one day discovered something in their rice cookers he’d never seen before. They called it boudin. “I thought to myself, I bet I can make that,” he said, so he asked a local shop owner for a general idea about how to make the Southern Louisiana specialty, a sausage stuffed with ground pork, rice and spices that made taste buds dance the Cajun two-step.

Duplantis left the farm in 1967 to work in the oil industry. He drilled for Texaco and Shell in the Gulf of Mexico for two years, but he disliked working the long 12-hour shifts. Once he left, he found a job he enjoyed when he became a surveyor for the Salt Conservation Service. The hours were much better he said, and the job also came with insurance and retirement benefits.

After seven years of surveying around Louisiana, he met his wife, Debbie Jones Duplantis. It wasn’t until they married that he decided to exercise his cooking skills and put his passion to the test. “I grew up shy,” he said, which was one of the greatest challenges he had to overcome when he took over the store. The whole family laughed around the table, reminding one another about a story Duplantis told them about his civics teacher. She failed him two years in a row for refusing to speak in front of the class. He finally passed civics the third year, but he pointed out it was probably because he had a different teacher.

His people skills grew immensely in 1968 when he took over the meat market convenient store located at 12181 Greenwell Springs Road in Baton Rouge. He changed the store’s name from Kwik to Jerry Lee’s Kwik Shop where people could buy gas, tobacco products and beer. However, something was missing, and an idea sparked when he thought back to what he loved to eat in those rice cookers as a kid.

Throwing ingredients into a sausage stuffer powered by hand, Duplantis tasted and tweaked his creation for a year until he finally got it right. He made his first 15 pounds of boudin stuffing exactly to his liking and not long after, discovered his recipe also tickled the taste buds of many others.

His store would need a new name and a bigger pot.

So that’s exactly what he did. He booted “Kwik Shop” from the store’s sign and replaced it with the phrase “Cajun Foods”.

Today he makes about 600 pounds of boudin a day using one water-powered stuffer that grinds 100 pounds of pork, rice and vegetables. Every ingredient has an exact measurement, but out of 16 employees that work at Jerry Lee’s Cajun Foods, not a single one knows the exact measurements.

 His son Gerard Lee Duplantis, also known as “Little Jerry,” knows just about everything else. He can squirt boudin stuffing into its casing and tie the case shut with his eyes closed. He said he learned by watching his dad and by practicing a lot over the years.

Locking eyes with his father across the table, Little Jerry explained what it takes to run his father’s shop on a typical weekday. From feeding plant workers at 5 a.m. to making sure there are enough cracklings and beef jerky for hungry customers, Little Jerry’s learning to do it all. He enjoys cooking for big events. “It’s harder to cook for small groups of people than it is for large groups,” he said. Game days are a prime example.

Not only does profit double during LSU football season, the amount of food they must prepare doubles. The store opens at 5 a.m. on any regular Saturday, so cooking ahead of time for game day Saturday sometimes means starting at midnight to get enough food ready for Tiger Tailgaters. Duplantis’ daughter Annie Borill chimed in as she rocked her newest son Jude in her arms. “They cook all night long.”

Even having to cook long hours with others, Duplantis manages to keep his popular boudin recipe hush-hush. Other than being locked in his own noggin, he keeps the secret recipe in a safety deposit box that his son and daughter will get to open one day. As far as store expansion goes, their father said that’s in their hands, too.

Duplantis said he hopes Jerry Lee’s Cajun Food remains a family tradition, eventually being passed down to the family surrounding him at the dining room table.

Despite setbacks over the past years, Jerry Lee’s Cajun Foods remains strong. The store has flooded three times, once with four feet of water in ‘83. A tornado tore off the roof in ‘95 and Little Jerry remembers mopping up rain water with a squeegee. As a new roof was being put on, he said his father was in the back continuing to cook.

Instead of going back outside to play, Duplantis’ grandsons sat content, listening to their grandpa while snacking on chips and guacamole dip. After refilling each grandson’s paper plate with hot boudin, Mrs. Duplantis sat back down next to her husband and proudly looked him in the eyes. “He had to work hard to get it, but the lord gave him that help, too.”

LSU vs. Alabama

Fans or Fanatics?

A photoshopped image of Saban and Miles goes viral before last Saturday's game.

Last week, the faces of two of the most famed coaches in college football could be seen everywhere. Satirical posters showed LSU and Alabama’s coaches head to head, reminding fans of what many started to call “the mash up,” one of the most anticipated games in college football this year.  Text message and email inboxes flooded with a photoshopped Les Miles giving Nick Saban a wedgie, and YouTube videos had a common goal to make the blood of Tiger and Crimson Tide fans boil or give them chills that caused the hair on their arms to raise.

All the Hype

Louis Bourgeois III, Assistant Equipment Manager in LSU’s Football Department said much of the hype has to do with the move of athletic staff members from one university to the other. When Saban left Miami and went to Alabama, Bourgeois said he recruited some of the people he had previously worked with at LSU. Strength and conditioning coaches followed Saban’s footsteps along with some of the equipment men. “When we go up against [Alabama] we are going up against our friends,” he said.

“But it’s not all about the staff,” said Bourgeois. “The fans get all into it.”

According to Mary Treuting PhD, professor of psychology at LSU Alexandria, insecurity of the fans of both teams increased the hype. Fear presented itself because LSU and Alabama were ranked one and two by the BCS and have players that are very close in skill. “Northwestern and LSU, both Louisiana teams, were not close in equal status, so people may not have even wanted to go to the football game,” she said. “But how much were tickets going for, for the LSU Alabama game?” They were priced to sell as high as $5,000.

Bourgeois said the historic football programs and the amount of alumni each university has in the NFL add fuel to the strong rivalry. “I feel like both of our teams are identical,” he said about the quantity of equally talented players each team has. “It’s like a mirror playing each other.”

The Robbers Cave Experiment

Plus you have the issue of Les Miles and Nick Saban—someone leaving one group to go to another group which can intensify those feelings of identification with a certain group, said Dr. Treuting.

There is an “in group” and there is an “out group” she explained.  The “in group” is the group an individual affiliates himself or herself with.

One group behavior study conducted in the 60s by Muzafer Sherif look at the desire we have to be better than other groups. In the Intergroup and Cooperation: The Robber’s Cave Experiment, boys were taken to a summer camp and divided into two different groups. The boys in each group spent a week only with the others in their group—they ate together, they did all of their activities together, and they formed friendships with each other.

At the end of the first week, they brought the two groups together into a competition where they became very hostile and developed aggressive behavior toward the other group. The third week they decided they would have both groups cooperate, but they found it was really hard to make to get along. It took a number of weeks using problem-solving tasks that involved them having them work together before they could start to form any friendships across the groups.

Football and other sports that have big teams affiliated with a particular entity, give us ready-made groups because we identify with a team, Treuting added. Sports that involve individuals, like tennis, may not have as much hype going because it’s harder to identify with another individual. “If it’s one given player like Serena Williams then we may not identify with her as a group, and so you wouldn’t have as much of that group identity at stake when the game is being played.”

Crossing the Line between Fan-hood and Fanaticism

Another satirical image that became popular among LSU fans.

When it comes to college football, somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose, and fans walk a fine line between crazy and in control. “You might have a fan that enjoys watching the game or enjoys seeing LSU win, but later on that evening they go do something else,” said Treuting, “where as you might have a fanatic who also enjoys watching the game and seeing them win but cannot stop talking about it for days and days afterwards.”

Bourgeois said fans were packed in Bryant-Denny Stadium more than thirty minutes before kick-off, something he has never seen before. However, when the Game of the Century stretched into overtime, and finally ended with a Tiger victory, fans’ emotions went haywire.  “Saturday night, you saw people crying,” Bourgeois said. Most tears came from devastated Alabamians who walked out with their heads low, but a few came from overjoyed die hard LSU fans. “It was one of the biggest games in last 20 years,” he said. “Some people do cross the line in a bad way, but you can be passionate in both ways.”

Regardless of fans’ actions leading up to Saturday’s game and a winning team, they would have always had a bigger picture in the back of their minds. “In the end we’re all members of other groups as well,” said Treuting. “So as we look at it down the road, we’re all hoping at least the SEC beats the big twelve.”

Interview with LSUA Psychology Professor, Dr. Mary Treuting.

More of the hype…

LSU Football Game Time Changes

Can fans handle the consequence of being number one?
Photo and video by Rachel Blanc

"LSU Football is all about nighttime football, and we don't have it anymore."-season ticket holder, Dr. Charles LeBlanc.

There’s no such thing as “night football” in Tiger Stadium anymore this season. For the first time since 1935, the LSU Tigers will play all Southeastern Conference home games before 3 p.m.

The Tigers’ first SEC home game, against Kentucky on Oct. 1, kicked off at 11:20 a.m. Kickoff was at 2 p.m. for their second SEC home game, against Florida on Oct. 8. The Official Website of LSU Athletics displays the Tigers’ 2011 season schedule with times of the upcoming games. This weekend’s home game against Auburn will be another afternoon game, set for 2:30 p.m. And the final game of the Tigers’ regular season, against Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving, will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Many LSU ticket holders said the earlier game times may accommodate CBS, but pleasing the fans is a different story. “It’s all about money,” said season ticket holder John Crutchfield. “It needs to be more about the fans who pay for the team to play.”

But according to Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director, Joe Alleva, “The less money we get from television, the more we have to charge our fans for tickets.” Alleva said the University signed a 15 year contract with CBS, who has first choice on which game they want to air for their afternoon time slot. Because the Tigers are ranked number one by the BCS right now, CBS wants to air those games.

“The only way the University is going to make money is [for fans] to pay for football tickets,” said tailgater A.J. Johnson.” “So that’s what you got to do. You got to support the University.”

Not all ticket buyers are pleased though. Several said they were caught off guard by the Kentucky game and Florida game time changes.

“We were supposed to come last weekend, bought our tickets, spent $100 on an extra ticket to come RV tailgating,” said fan Rachelle Longo, referring to the weekend the Tigers played the Wild Cats. “They changed the time of the game…and we couldn’t make it because my husband coaches high school football.”

Season ticket holder and Acura/Infinity of Baton Rouge Owner David Fabre agreed that the sudden change of game times is inconvenient. His tailgating crew sets up on the corner of Nicholson Drive and Skip Bertman Drive and feeds more than 100 people for each home game .“We normally don’t get up this early. I was up at 5:30 this morning trying to get the tailgate ready,” said Fabre. “It’s fun because you’re on national TV, but from a tailgate standpoint, we’d rather it be around six o’clock.”

Season ticket holder Charles LeBlanc, M.D., agreed. “LSU football is all about nighttime football, and we don’t have it anymore,” he said. “There are no nighttime games coming back to Baton Rouge in the near future, so it’s not good.”

It has been two years since LSU signed the contract with CBS, and Alleva said games times are not set until two weeks before the date of the actual game. “At the end of 13 years, there might be room for negotiation,” he said about what LSU could potentially do to end the early game trend. “But I think our fans will support the tigers, whether it’s at ten o’clock in the morning or ten o’clock at night.”

For the most part, it seems he’s right. When asked if they would buy season tickets, knowing beforehand that no SEC home games would be played at night, LSU fans had a unanimous response.

“It has been a bit of a conflict, but being a true Tiger fan, we will adapt,” said Crutchfield.

“I wouldn’t refuse to buy a ticket,” said Johnson. “You got to bleed purple and gold. It’s what you got to do.”

Dr. LeBlanc said, “I’m a lifetime Tiger fan, so I’d buy tickets no matter if  [the game]  was at eleven o’clock, three o’clock, or seven o’clock. We’ll adjust.”

“We were very upset because we’re out one hundred dollars for last weekend,” said Longo, “but we’re here today and we’re having fun.”

A friend behind her asked if LSU would reimburse Longo for her $100 loss. “You can give us the Alabama game!” she suggested.

The Desire for Firearms Grows in Louisiana

Fear for protection triggers the love of a sport
Photos by Rachel Blanc

It’s not every day you see an 80-year-old woman pull a 1911 Colt handgun from her purse. Melissa Decker, who works at Jim’s Firearms on Siegen, was a witness to this not long ago when a women came in the store because her gun was acting up.

“More and more women are wanting to protect themselves,” said Decker. But it’s not only fearful females who are buying more guns these days.

Statistics from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) show an approximate 12.5% increase in firearm background checks in Louisiana this year based on the months January through August.

On Labor Day weekend, a tax-free weekend in September, Jim’s Firearms received as much business as they normally would for the entire month. Floor manager Brian Daniel, said store sales so far this year have matched that 12.5% increase, and the sale of concealed carry handguns is the highest it has ever been. “If you watch the news, there are stories about constant crime taking place. People feel like they have to have them,” said Daniel.

Bar graphs based on NICS statistics and trend calculations for September through December of 2o11.

Back in 2008, the NICS reported an approximate 20% increase in firearm background checks in Louisiana compared to 2007—a jump from 208,201 to 248,355 potential buyers.

“The economy was in rough shape,” said Flint Virgets of Lipsey’s, a wholesale distributer of firearms nationwide. “When the economy is bad, crime usually goes up, which increased gun sales because [people] go out and buy guns to protect themselves.”

The demand for firearms dropped slightly in 2009, but remained high and did not fluctuate much until this year’s increase. According to Virgets, the gun business is somewhat recession proof—an insulated industry with hand gun sales steady year around for home protection and with seasonal shotgun and rifle sales.

But as far as the number of firearm background checks this year, Virgets said that it’s not only because more people are getting their concealed carry permit, but the industry is growing in itself.

The popularity of target shooting has picked up. Daniel said first time gun buyers, who initially buy for protection, are opening up to other areas of shooting. “More and more people are coming into shooting sporting clays with a shotgun,” said Virgets. “They like to do it for fun.”

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

B.R. Foodies Get a Taste of the Pop-Up
Photos by Manuel Valencia

This past weekend, 300seats brought the eats to Baton Rouge with a pop-up restaurant catered by chefs who dished out colorful culinary themed plates and with entertainment by local musicians. But it wasn’t long after restaurant-goers had kicked back in their chairs after licking their lips that “poof” it vanished.

“The grill room looks like it did when we walked in,” said 39-year-old entrepreneur Manuel Valencia. “Looks like something was in there a couple months ago and then they turned the lights off.”

Just like that it was gone. Hence the name “pop up.” It’s a trend that has established itself all around the world—Hong Kong, Madrid, Barcelona, you name it. And now it’s here in Baton Rouge.

The Thought Process

According to Valencia, who was born and raised in New Jersey and who spent seven years in the Big Apple, the concept behind 300seats is one that big cities like New York are accustomed to. But it’s not only an enjoyable “hoop-la,” it’s very pricey.  But in the growing city of Baton Rouge, he believed he could spark a cultural interest in these pop-up events at a lower cost. “I like the element of hospitality and customer service. I like being a host,” he said.

So with his idea he made it happen, taking his interest in business technology, film production and photography along with his experience as an entertainer who once danced at bar mitzvahs. “I guess that would make me a professional partier,” he said. Valencia presented his business idea at Startup Weekend in June at LSU with core group members Andrea Fontenot and William Eldredge.

Since 300seats has taken off, Baton Rouge has hosted two different events—a pop-up theatre of award-winning independent films and a pop-up speaker series called #socialREVOLUTION, where delegates gathered to express themselves on the topic of democracy in the Islamic world.

The third and most recent event was a pop-up restaurant.

Initially Valencia envisioned five different restaurant and chef teams with sixty seats available for each. Only three teams were able to participate however, and they all needed to start their preparations by Thursday. Three thematic cuisines were distributed to potential caterers: Spanish, Italian and New York Diner styles.

Pop-up restaurant photo slideshow:

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The Event

For each seating in Perkins Rowe, Suite 100, 300 seats were available for purchase at $50 each. Eighteen tables were at capacity Friday and Saturday for all three events, and at each event, participants were hit with scents belonging to a different culinary theme.

There was an array of music to suit all ears: a flutist and bassoonist from the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, American Idol finalist Jacquelyn Dupree and spoken word poet Xero Skidmore whose sound tends to be known as a mixture of rap and poetry. 

The Edible Event took the taste buds of restaurant attendees to Spain, while the upcoming Zolia Bistro Enoteca and 13-year-old chef Matthew Bouchner took them to Italy. Last but not least, Culinary Productions took them to a place where they experienced what it really means to put the swank in Creole cuisine.

The high end boutique catering company served scrumptious appetizers on live models Saturday, and kept some of their best dishes coming throughout the evening.  High tailing it out of the kitchen were smoked crawfish sliders with hand-cut fries and bread and butter pickles, bacon wrapped Gulf Shrimp set on southern greens and parmesan grits accompanied by Creole Shrimp Sausage, crispy lobster set on spinach risotto finished with smoked tomato cream, and beef short ribs over mashed potatoes—certainly enough to make you drool a little bit. “(300seats) is a neat thing to Baton Rouge,” said William Wells, Owner and Executive Chef of Culinary Productions. “It’s on the spur of the moment.”

To Be Continued…

What no one knows is that a fourth event was planned for that Sunday morning—a Kegs and Eggs breakfast where “pajamas were encouraged.” And although it fell through at the last minute, it’s an idea that is still on the table. “You know,” said Valencia, “the whole body adult onesies with the plastic footies.”

There is also a pop-up future for Lafayette and areas between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with plans already underway for a cinema event. Valencia hopes to one day tie these groups of Louisianans together, resulting in an even richer cultural bond.

He is also enthusiastic about one day establishing a permanent venue somewhere in the downtown Baton Rouge area. He sees a lot of promise in the city, with its eccentric art scene and adventurous attitude, and he’s unconcerned with there being a lack of promising events. “The ambiguity in our name lends itself for us to be able to do a lot,” he said. “We make 300 spaces or chairs or one day it might be bicycle seats available for our events.”

Fresh Street Food in Baton Rouge

B.R. Food Trucks Slow Their Roll to Make Sure it’s Fresh
Photos by Rachel Blanc

They race to streets with the most foot traffic during lunchtime and they send out catchy mouth-watering tweets at the speed of lightning, but there is one thing the food trucks in Baton Rouge slow down for— making sure their food is fresh.

The birth of the Baton Rouge food truck happened more than two years ago with Ninja Snoballs, a venturous team that traveled around LSU’s campus. In the social media world, they referred to their job as “slinging,” and their lingo caught the attention of students who would stop at the bright red truck for an icy treat between classes. Since then the trend has grown and stabilized, with different food and beverage vendors jumping on the bandwagon along with the loss of some and replacement of other mobile restaurants.

This week at the Wednesday Roundup, a gathering one day out of the week where mobile vendors gather in the city, seven trucks made a circle outside of Tin Roof Brewery off Nicholson Drive awaiting Baton Rouge, La. foodies. And when they flocked into the ring at dinnertime, fresh conversation started to fly. When asked if food trucks are different from regular fast food restaurants, the unanimous response from in-truck cooks and from those wiping their mouths was “certainly.”

But, how is it different?

“Everything is made in-house,” said Nick Hufft, owner of Curbside Burgers, and “the market is our second home.” Their burgers are made of grass-fed beef from Kinder, La. and are packed with seasonal Louisiana produce. “Our motto is fresh-ground beef, fresh-baked buns and fresh-cut fries,” added Hufft. “ The rest is just Lagniappe.”

Curbside is not the only street truck buying fresh, local products. FRESH SALADS+WRAPS, the health-conscious restaurant located in downtown’s Main Street Market, decided it was time to get a set of wheels in August. Produce comes daily so everything must be fresh, said manager Laura Hendrix. She peeked out of the truck window looking at the Wednesday Roundup crowd. “It’s more about the experience than actually filling your stomach.”

Business partner Estine Rusk of the gourmet and deli food truck Salivation Station has fresh options too. He buys beef from Louisiana purveyors and everything is homemade. The fresh grilled veggie sandwich with aioli spread is a healthy choice and he eventually plans to add a salad bowl to the menu this fall.

Speaking of salads, anything on the menu at the Taco de Paco truck can be made into one, said manager Aaron Brown. Fresh ingredients on their menu items: Portobello mushrooms, spinach and Parmesan cheese.

But, how are food trucks different from fast food? The answer might be as simple as how Wednesday Roundup attendee Brandon Harper put it. “The food is good. Fast food is bad.”