Ahn-Joo food truck, bless you and your Seoul

The Ahn-Joo food truck is hitting the streets starting June 18 at the LA Film Festival. Chef Debbie Lee gave us a sneak peek as she whipped up Korean-inspired pub grub. [info]

The next food truck star

The truck is a labor of love for Chef Debbie Lee, who is of Korean heritage and raised in Mississippi (ahn-joo means “snack” in Korean). Her mother made soul food, while her grandmother made Seoul food from Korea. Debbie started working in advertising but she didn’t feel satisfied. “That lasted about a year or so before I stepped into the restaurant industry… and, well, the rest is history!” Debbie told us.

Debbie recalled the time when she was working at a restaurant and the chef challenged her, telling her she to make ratatouille for 400 guests. “If you can do it, you can stay,” the chef told her. An hour before the deadline she asked the same chef, “Was there anything else I could help you with?”

The callback

Last year, Debbie auditioned for season five of Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star.” She thought the audition was going to be over fast, having already made plans with her friends during the same day. She assumed she would come back with a good story for them to laugh about. When Debbie’s friends didn’t hear back from her, they found out she was cast on the show. On “The Next Food Network Star,” Chef Debbie Lee gained praise from “Iron Chef’s” Masaharu Morimoto, Bobby Flay and other celeb chefs. She made it to the final three — impressive for something that was initially going to be just for laughs!

I need beer with all the grub

“My personal favorites would have to be the Korean nachos and my northern style Mandu.” Debbie said. Eating the nachos was like tasting fine wine -– there were a number of different flavors and textures swirled together. The Korean nachos are a unique fusion dish that is somewhere between nachos and macaroni and cheese. The “Chips + Dip” is a vegetarian delight, with crispy wonton crostini chips and a hummus dip made from red bean and curry. Of course, you have to finish your visit with a dessert. Chef Debbie has two options for those with a sweet tooth — the Fuji apple eggroll served with ginger mascarpone and chocolate lovers can enjoy the grilled Nutella bhang, a grilled sandwich made with seasonal berries and Nutella.

The beauty of the Ahn-Joo truck is there’s a something for everyone, plus they only use hormone-free meats, sustainable seafood, and locally grown produce. Chef Debbie’s menu is broken down into Small Grub for $3, Medium Grub for $5 and Large Grub for $7. The truck has variety of dishes that are hot or cold, vegetarian or meaty, sweet or savory, and a selection of refreshing and fruity Asian beverages, like Sac-Sac and aloe juice. Chilled barley tea and brown rice juice will be also be available soon. On top of it all, Chef Debbie’s personality and passion for great grub is a treat in itself.