Here is a confession: I'm a pretend foodie who knows zilch about food or cooking. I couldn't tell you what sous-vide means. I possess exactly zero knife skills. And I just recently learned that cilantro and coriander are the same thing, or different parts of the same plant rather.
I do, however, know what I like. And one of the things I like is waffles. Belgian Liège waffles in particular. Preferably hand-held and eaten while strolling the streets of Bruges and holding a cup of frites in the other hand. But I digress.
When I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, last year within the first few months at least three people brought up The Waffle Lab food truck in conversation. The food truck doesn't just serve up plain waffles, I quickly learned, although a classic waffle right off their irons has turned out to be one of my favorites. These guys make over 12 sweet and savory concoctions. There's the European with Nutella (it could probably stop right there and I'd be happy), strawberries, bananas, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. The Maple-Bacon Bliss with bacon, fresh raspberries, and maple syrup. (Can I get a hallelujah?!) Savory options include The Spicy Professor with bacon, cheddar, and fresh grilled jalapenos, served with a side of salsa. (Boom! Done.) And their most popular offering by far, Chicken and Waffles, with crispy chicken atop a waffle that's then smothered in homemade rosemary-sage sausage gravy. (I call it the Died and Went to Heaven Waffle.) Research complete, I decided to embark on a Liège waffle quest.
I reached out to Justin Brown, one of the owners of said food truck about a day-in-the-life photo essay detailing the inner workings of their magical creations. "We're actually getting ready to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant," he told me. "Would you be interested in shifting focus a bit and following us as we work on getting it open?"
More space, more waffles, I figured. So immediately and obviously, I said yes.
That's how I found myself following Justin and The Waffle Lab co-owner Erik Rohman around for the last few months. At food truck festivals. Touring their restaurant space. Coordinating shoots with their general contractor. Catching them between employee interviews. During training. And finally, on opening day.
The process taught me a lot. First, that in addition to a killer menu, opening a restaurant requires equal amounts of patience, project management, dedication, and paperwork. Second, that waffles from The Waffle Lab restaurant taste just as good as waffles from The Waffle Lab food truck. Third, that #hashtagslookalotlikewaffles.