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July 31, 2013

Vegan food truck bound for Farmers Market

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

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Vegan food truck bound for Farmers Market
Attendees line up to get grub from Shimmy Shack during a pre-launch event July 27 in Pleasant Ridge.

FARMINGTON — Michigan’s first vegan food truck, Shimmy Shack, is ready to serve Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market attendees — and the rest of metro Detroit — sliders, fries and shakes Aug. 3 on Orchard Street, east of Farmington Road.

“We know that Michigan is ready for a healthier fast food option, and Shimmy Shack is that choice,” Debra Levantrosser, of South Lyon, one of the truck’s owners, said in a press release. “Shimmy Shack proves that vegetarian food can be sexy, fun, delicious and healthy.”

The truck also can run on biodiesel fuel created from the used fryer oil, she said.

The 1950s diner-style green food truck menu includes three cooked sliders — a black bean and rice burger with guacamole, a falafel burger with garlic sauce and a classic American cheese lentil burger — as well as a raw vegan Rueben, a walnut burger on onion bread with thousand island dressing and sauerkraut, regular and sweet potato fries with special sauces, and three types of vegan shakes: chocolate, strawberry and the Shimmy Original.

She said the food is “awesome,” and by having a diner-style menu, she wants to dispel some of the myths about vegetarian food being boring and bland.

“(We want to) show that vegetarian food is normal, tasty and healthy,” she told the Press recently. “We have been eating these fries and shakes for years and years and years. So (my team and I) thought if we are going to enter this market and be successful, we should offer familiar foods that are vegetarian.

“I sort of joke, if we can get the construction workers and kids under 5 coming to our food truck, we know that we have succeeded.”

Levantrosser said the food truck is one of many to come. As of now, Shimmy Shack has three employees and six partners.

Ferndale-based Kirsten Johnson, of Fresh Chef Detroit, also a chef and partner in the business, said that, last fall, Levantrosser contacted her about making recipes for the food truck.

“My husband and I are vegetarians, pretty much vegan, and this is something we would love to eat,” the 34-year-old said of the menu items. “To know there is a place you can go to get quick, fast, tasty vegetarian food … is exciting, when you have more than one option.”

Johnson said she prepares the foods in a prep kitchen banquet facility her team rents in South Lyon.

“The only thing we have to make ahead of time is the mixture for the burgers,” she said. “Thursdays are prep days to have everything ready for Friday and Saturday events.”

She added that, hopefully, the business will have a full-time facility where dishes can be prepared.

Levantrosser said her vision of having a vegan food establishment is finally here.

“It has been a dream of mine for 23 years,” she said. “I’ve been a vegan for 23 years, and I’ve always wanted to have my own vegan restaurant. I think it is now the right time, kind of like the perfect storm. Everything is coming together.”

The truck’s official launch is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Farmington Farmers Market.

For more information, contact Johnson at kirsten@shimmyshack.com.

Find Shimmy Shack on Facebook at www.facebook.com/eatshimmyshack.

For more information on the Farmers Market, go to www.downtownfarmington.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.