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Conversations with Jarmal Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jarmal Smith.

Hi Jarmal, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m a true Chicagoan through and through! Food is a big part of the community where I come from and such a huge place for diversity in the food culture. My parents being from Louisiana is a bonus because I’m able to have cultural experiences through food and love. I moved to Atlanta,GA after college to just explore my 20s. One thing led to another and little did I know, I would end up in culinary school. After attending Le Cordon Bleu, I started working in several kitchens working my way up the management chain.

Looking for a change in scenery, I decided to move to Colorado. After working for a few restaurants and catering companies, I was looking for my next move, something for me. Unfortunately, Covid happened and kinda put a halt on the world. Luckily, this tragedy opened a world of opportunities. I was blessed with the opportunity to be able to open a food truck. Turns out, bars and breweries needed food to operate, and having a food truck was a no brainer. The question is, What to sell!? I started out taking a very “chef” approach, and let’s say, people were skeptical. I brought upscale food when the people just wanted something simple. I mean I was selling polenta from a food truck, (wouldn’t you want to know what’s going on haha).

By the second menu, we found our niche, cooking comfort food that people know and love. We made it ours and haven’t looked back since. We are only 2 years in and grateful everyday that people have made TBB a go-to for their food.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It hasn’t been a smooth road! I mean you’re your own boss. That in itself is a whole different ball game. Holding yourself accountable, being timely, and being self-reliant. Some days you are so prepared and the most simple thing goes wrong. An example would be having everything prepared and you showing up on-site and nothing on the truck works.

No power, no propane, no register, and a line outside of your window. Unexpected, but what do you do!? You have to adapt, make it happen, and make a great meal with no sweat. This is just one of the many things. Other things could be just logistics, licensing, etc. Food trucks can be expensive and stressful, but it’s worth it.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
We specialize in food from Chicago and Louisiana. We take some of the most familiar dishes and make them our own. One of the main dishes that we are popular for would be our Swamp Fries. They are loaded fries with lump crab, crawfish tails, and JUMBO shrimp. (We do mean jumbo!) It’s topped with garlic dill aioli and a bully spice mix. People drive near and far for these fries. Ever in the area, that’s where I’d start!

My biggest highlight from this dish is being in another state and someone saw our logo and asked about the Swamp fries. They’d never had them but because they trended at one point, she and her husband were familiar and couldn’t wait to try them. Ironically, we ended up serving them a few months later when they visited Colorado. Still some of the best feedback we received from afar. That would be one of my proudest moments. We pride ourselves in our logo, our food, and our service standards. This is what keeps us different from the rest.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Family! Having my family by my side has always been my motivation. My parents and my wife hold me accountable. In turn, it allows me to put my best foot forward every time. Having a solid foundation is the key to any success in my opinion. I’m grateful for mine.

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