Bleu Kitchen’s Gumbo Pot Pie Is Certainly one of South LA’s Greatest Takeout Dishes
Head into the Ralphs car park on the corner of Manchester / Western each day and prepare to see a line of food trucks in the southwest corner. Most afternoons are crews from Trap Kitchen, Belly’s Sliders & Wings, and Happy Ice. As a social distancing for the shopper to enter the grocery store, those waiting for food truck orders stay in their cars until the order is ready. There is a steady flow of customers during the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s even busier for Calvin Johnson’s – known as Chef Grubby – Blue kitchen Truck hurling a staple that sells out every day: Gumbo can cake.
Johnson is a third of the self-proclaimed “Foodminati” from South LA who opened the Court Cafe in mid-2019. With partners Jermelle Henderson from Taco Mell and Keith Garrett from All Flavor No Grease, the trio opened a breakfast and lunch restaurant that is geared towards hearty dishes and large portion sizes on the border between Westchester and Inglewood. All three continue to operate their respective businesses. But Johnson found new life this year with his puff pastry gumbo recipe. “It’s a blessing to sell our food,” says Johnson.
If ever there was a time for home cooking, now is the time. Americans make high-carb recipes at home like sourdough bread, high-calorie cream sauces, and whole fried meats. And nostalgia plays a huge role as the world practices social distancing during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson usually makes the pot pie as a seasonal dish during the holidays and ceases production in January. However, the demand for this compact frozen product that needs to be heated in a domestic oven continued to grow. Johnson started making it four years ago when a friend returned from New Orleans and talked about her favorite dish: a lobster pot pie.
“As soon as she described it to me, I wondered how I could put a gumbo in a pot pie,” says Johnson. “I researched it and there were lots of bug fixes to get the roux right. As soon as I got it, it has been a top seller ever since. ”
Johnson mixes spices and flavors with peppers, onions, celery, smoked sausage, crab meat, chicken and shrimp. Then he scoops the gumbo into a foil container, fills it with puff pastry and freezes it en maase.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees for preparation and let the laminated dough take on a beautiful brown shade for 30 to 45 minutes. Johnson’s gumbo has a flavorful flavor and is big enough for one person. Some customers buy the $ 16 dish in bulk to keep in the freezer.
The Bleu Kitchen Truck first opened in 2017, but before that, Johnson had been cooking from home with his wife Sunni for six years. He just wanted to make dishes that stood out. “LA is the culinary capital of the world,” says Johnson. “But in the black community, people just sold the same food.” This year will be his personal best. As of yesterday, Johnson’s team has sold a staggering 1,312 cakes and grossed nearly $ 20,000 as of late December.
Johnson also makes a popular version of garlic noodles, inspired by Crustacean Vietnamese cook Helene An. Just like the pot pie, the noodles sell out within a few hours. “My wife was in Crustacean, she thinks mine is better,” laughs Johnson. “My best friend’s mother made this dish called fried spaghetti and I thought they tasted like garlic noodles. I turned them over and gave them more flavor. I’ve been selling them for six years. When business slows down I just make noodles and they get me right back up. “
After the noodles are fried, they are coated with a protein of choice. You can also order the massive all-round option with steak, shrimp, chicken, and broccoli. “There’s a big Asian community in South Bay, and when I got the seal, I knew it was good,” says Johnson. “People can’t believe it’s from a black man.”
Johnson’s face is a lively presence on the side of the truck parked in or near the Ralphs parking lot while his brother Domo Johnson runs the show. It’s best to get there early but check Bleu Kitchen Instagram to keep track of the schedule and availability.
Drunken noodles with shrimp and steak
The gumbo pot pie