Arts & CultureFood

University alumnus serves up sammitches at new food cart



From the outside, Casey Brooks’ @@I found a old MySpace page; otherwise, it is quite hard to find, if at all     http://www.myspace.com/ecksdout@@food cart looks like it belongs in the 1970s.

With bright, spray-painted flowers in an array of vivid colors and an assorted genre of music blaring from the inside, Brooks keeps his food, kitchen and atmosphere as colorful as himself.

With food items like Shit on a Shingle and The [email protected]@http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sammitch/239105112794752#!/pages/Sammitch/239105112794752?sk=info@@, you almost have to have a sense of humor to appreciate his food names, but you only have to have taste buds to appreciate his food.

The 25-year-old University alumnus opened his food cart, Sammitch, on the weekend of Sept. 23, but cooking has been a connective theme throughout his life.

“Instead of sitting down and ordering (at a restaurant),” Brooks said, “I watched and helped my parents make food every day.”

In fact, most of his recipes are from his parents or are his own creations.

Brooks is the owner and its only employee. From noon to 7 p.m. every day, Brooks preps, stocks, serves and cooks for his customers — even giving out free food to people walking by and transients looking for a bite to eat.

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(Alex McDougall/Oregon Daily Emerald)

His motto behind his food and business is simple: “People need to be fed,” Brooks said.

But there is also a darker side to the merry scene portrayed by Brooks’ vivacious food cart.

Earlier in the year, Brooks graduated from the University, his employer went bankrupt and he experienced an intense break-up. So, he packed his belongings and moved to Spain for five months. He looked up information about his initial destination, [email protected]@http://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/seville@@, only two days before leaving. With various language barriers while he traveled throughout Europe, Brooks experienced a time of solitude.

“When you’re by yourself, you do a lot of thinking,” Brooks said.

While in Europe, not only did Brooks realize that he wanted to live a life without drugs and alcohol, but also he began realizing he didn’t want to come back to the States and do “mindless, corporate work,”@@i put this part in quotes; what do you think? since he himself called it that@@ as Brooks put it.

Soon after, he bought the food cart trailer from Craigslist, and it was waiting for him upon his arrival back to the United States. While Brooks began repairing the trailer, his friend and artist, Ryder Johnston, began creating the trailer’s bright, outer shell.

Brooks got the name Sammitch from a good friend who called sandwiches “sammitches” instead.

Then, before moving into a location on Chambers Street, Brooks found an ad for a lot next to Cornerstone [email protected]@http://cornerstoneglass.com/@@ and the Bijou Art [email protected]@http://bijou-cinemas.com/bijou/@@ on East 13th Avenue. His strategy for the location was that it would be closer to the college community and people walking to and from places.

Brooks creates his own original sauces, such as Devil Dill made with mayo, pesto, pickles, pepperoncini and spicy mustard, as well as several family recipes like Mamma’s Tuna Melt, carrot fries and the vegan bean-in burger.

Brooks focuses on the slow-food movement versus the fast-food movement, meaning he wants to cook his food as best as he can without a pressing time constraint. And even though he is responsible for all costs associated with Sammitch, he works for the compliments, the customer interactions and the food, not for the money. Brooks even admits he has opened up his food cart at night when a friend called and said he wanted one of his sammitches.

So whether you see him giving out free samples, cooking up a sammitch or juggling in his food cart during downtime, Brooks works to make his business as unique as possible.

The bumper of his food trailer reads: “Eug … it’s Sammitch time.”

But in Brooks’ life, it’s always Sammitch time.

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Daily Emerald

Daily Emerald