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Most Americans have never had a true Belgian waffle, said Terry Jeske, owner of the Volks Waffle California food truck, and he hopes to give Sacramentans the chance.
So, what makes a Belgian waffle truly Belgian?
“In America, when you make waffles at home or IHOP or Denny’s, they’re made out of batter, so you pour the batter onto a griddle or an iron,” Jeske explained. “Mine are dough-based. It’s a completely different animal.”
Jeske imports his dough from Belgium, where he said bakers have more than a 160-year head-start. Since the dough is the backbone of the business, he won’t say where, exactly, it comes from, but – after being frozen – it leaves the production facility on a truck, crosses France and boards a ship for the United States.
In New York, each batch goes through customs inspections, then gets trucked to Sacramento, where Jeske carefully bakes the waffles.
“For this type of dough ball, there’s a special yeast, and the humidity is the tricky part,” he said, adding that it must be kept at specific levels.
A high-grade sugar is added to the dough, and when baked at 400 degrees, it caramelizes, finding the balance between too soft and too hard.
Jeske said the waffles are good to eat by themselves – with the sugar they’re baked with taking away any need for syrup, and that’s how they are generally consumed in Belgium. He does, however, have an array of toppings for those who want them.
One of the waffles is a chocolate waffle – half of it is immersed in Belgian chocolate.
“We put ice cream and strawberries and whipped cream on it or just serve it plain, whatever people want,” Jeske said.
Fruit-filled waffles are also available in flavors such as strawberry and peach.
Fans of the chocolate hazelnut spread Nutella can try Volks Waffle’s liquid Nutella atop ice cream on a waffle, and Jeske said he also enjoys drizzling the liquid Nutella in a spiderweb design over a plain waffle.
Since they’re not typically eaten as meals, he said he keeps the prices at $4.75 per waffle so they’re a reasonable snack item.
With the waffles baked in the traditional method, they’re ready to go to the food truck, and Jeske said he shied away from using a repurposed FedEx truck, preferring to stick to a European classic.
A 1970 Volkswagen Transporter is the base for an all-copper kitchen with waffle irons weighing 110 pounds each, and Jeske said that at special events such as weddings, he literally rolls out the red carpet.
Image by: Courtesy
“Presentation is very important to me,” he said, adding that he wears a chef’s jacket when he serves the waffles.
The vehicle does its job drawing attention, according to Paul Somerhausen of SactoMoFo.
“I think that the appeal with Volks Waffle is twofold,” he said. “On the one hand, you have a really unique vehicle – it’s beautifully customized Volkswagen, and then on the other hand you have these imported Belgian waffles that are such a high caliber of quality and flavor profile.”
He said Volks Waffle is a regular attendee to SactoMoFo, and will be at the next event, held from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Sept. 29 in River Park in West Sacramento.
Those looking to catch up with Volks Waffle before then can follow the company on Twitter.
The business’ name is an homage to Jeske’s family ties, he said, noting that volks translates as “family.”
The business is growing, and Jeske said he is looking at opening a small shop in Sacramento about half the size of a Starbucks and plans to roll out another vehicle or two in the next year.
“We will be getting a restaurant, and it will be in the downtown area,” he said. “I want to keep it unique and special. The whole idea is not to commercialize it.”
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