A food truck serving affordable Creole cuisine is opening in Avon
For Avon resident Dana Kaufman, feeding local residents affordably is a top priority.
Kaufman, who learned to cook in Louisiana, is the owner of Slappy’s Creole Cuisine, a new food truck coming to Avon within the next two weeks. I successfully opened and ran a Slappy’s truck for four years in Texas. Now she’s bringing Louisiana-style food — and her philosophy of helping and supporting people — to Eagle County.
Kaufman will offer a variety of Cajun entrees, including tender fried catfish, gumbo, jambalaya, and po-boy sandwiches, all for under $15.
Kaufman first started Slappy’s while living in Texas, where the truck was stationary at The Woodlands near Houston for four years. When the coronavirus hit, Kaufman decided to sell the truck. In December 2022, her son, who had moved to Vail, invited her to join him.
“He called me and said, ‘Mom, there’s no Cajun food here, and everything’s too expensive,'” Kaufman said.
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Within weeks, Kaufman moved to the valley. “I got here, and for four-and-a-half months, I went to every restaurant, every bar. I know every waiter, I know every restaurateur, and I just got to know the valley,” she said. “I was so taken by the beauty of waking up in the morning and seeing heavy snow falling.” And the sheep, I fell in love with that.”
In the spring, Kaufman left Eagle County to spend time with family, but by June, she was back. While working as a concierge at Sonnenalp Hotel & Resort this summer, and spending more time building her community, she saw definitively that there was a market for her food.
Reasonably priced eats
As she got to know the community, the affordability issues facing local residents immediately stood out to Kaufman.
“People should eat and people should feel safe when they put their heads down at night,” she said. “And I can’t fix the housing problem, but I can certainly help with food.”
Its business model is based on supporting the usual routines of community members.
“Being able to stay home when you get off work and not have to go somewhere and go to a restaurant and eat,” Kaufman said. “It’s locally driven, and I’m happy to serve people who come in from out of town with millions of dollars, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to make sure everyone who works here and lives here (can eat at Slappy’s affordably).”
About a month ago, Kaufman began cooking out of the kitchen in Gypsum, delivering samples of her cuisine to local restaurants and friends. She said she received great reviews, and the experience strengthened her confidence about restarting Slappy’s in Eagle County. The delivery service is currently running, and individuals and businesses can order through the Slappy’s Creole Cuisine website.
Kaufman offers free delivery services to Avon locals.
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“Feeding locals affordably is a big deal to me. There’s free delivery in Avon because it’s hard to live here. Paying fees like Uber Eats and DoorDash fees is ridiculous,” Kaufman said.
Live music and hugs
For Kaufman, the ambiance around her truck is just as important as the food. She welcomes everyone to her truck, and makes sure to get to know her customers.
“That’s part of my job, is to hug people and make them feel loved and accepted and that’s just part of what I do. I think that made the food truck more popular (in Texas), because it wasn’t just food,” Kaufman said.
She is a musician — Kaufman plays guitar and sings — and plans to invite musicians to play live music around the truck, which will always be located on Nottingham Ranch Road.
“I love music. I love playing music, but I really like listening to music, too,” she said.
Kaufman learned to cook Cajun food while working at her parents’ restaurant in Baton Rouge.
“I’m from Louisiana. My parents owned a restaurant at the north gates of Louisiana State University called Gumbo Place. And when I was at LSU, I worked there. I used to cook with my parents, and my parents were passionate about cooking,” Kaufman said.
“My dad was a big music person, too. We had live music there and we got up at 4 a.m. and cooked gumbo and it got in my blood. I love food. I mean I love food. I’m a food snob,” Kaufman said.
“Like the universe is talking to me”
When she couldn’t find bread that met her standards for making po’boy sandwiches, the owners of Avon Bakery and Deli, friends of Kaufman’s, stepped up.
“Mark and Dan at Avon Bakery (and Deli) — I couldn’t find bread to replicate the Leidenheimer (Bread Company) in New Orleans. This is the only bread I would want to use for the boys because it’s unbeatable. They found the recipe, and they made this,” Kaufman said. the bread”.
Kaufman said the experience felt “like the universe was speaking to me.” “I think for a local company to commit to that shows a lot of mutual respect. That means a lot to me.”
Making authentic Louisiana cuisine in the mountains of Colorado comes with its challenges.
“It’s hard to get fresh seafood here, but not impossible. But the way I cook it, I mean my shrimp dishes are real shrimp, individual large shrimp that I bake and fry. I only use peanut oil, because the vegetables “Bad for you, peanut oil doesn’t interfere with the flavour.”
Kaufman plans to use the complex’s kitchen at Gypsum to place orders and cook large pots of gumbo, but much of the food served from the food truck will be cooked directly on the truck. “For everyday lunch and dinner purposes, I will be serving food in a food truck. Everything fried will come right out of the truck,” Kaufman said. “Any sandwiches, all of that has to happen on the truck because you want it fresh and immediate and the platter is so far away.”
Going forward, she is looking for a kitchen manager and cook who is ready to work at full capacity. Her son will manage its sales and marketing.
As the truck’s customers grow, the list will grow as well.
“In the spring, I would say late winter, by the end of February, we’ll start catching crawfish and we’ll do that every day and (her son) Chase will cook crawfish, because that’s what he does.” Kaufman said.
As she opens up to the public, Kaufman has no worries about the success of her business. “I feel very confident now. Like I do, I can’t imagine it’s going to fail, because the food is so good, and I’m so committed to it,” Kaufman said. “I think the spirit with which you do things is the most rewarding part of anything you do.”
Slappy’s Creole Cuisine is open for lunch and dinner starting at noon Wednesdays through Sundays. Kaufman has purchased her own food truck and will be stocked and ready to sell within the next two weeks. Currently, individuals and businesses can place delivery orders on Slappy’s website. Kaufman plans to post on her website and Facebook When the food truck is open for business, it will be located at 85 Nottingham Ranch Road in Avon.