Lake Tahoe-based food truck won after ‘Price is Right’ appearance finds success
Special to the Bonanza
If you go
What: Souper Wagon
Where: Based out of Incline Village, look for Souper Wagon at Commons Beach concerts, Kings Beach Music on the Beach and the Tahoe Nalu Paddle Fest. Soups are sold at Kings Beach Central Market.
Service: The owners are always serving the food, so it’s always served with a smile.
Atmosphere: Warm, friendly and kind
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Andrea Schwartz and Chad Hayes probably aren’t the only North Shore residents who have wondered why our community lacks more soup establishments.
Perhaps you are one of the many locals who drive to Reno regularly to worship at the temples of simple and steamy bowls of pho. In 2012, the couple-turned-business-partners decided to take matters into their own four wheels and created the Souper Wagon.
To join in on the fun of the food-truck phenomenon, Andrea trained for and won big on “The Price is Right.” She traded in her winnings, including a brand new car, and got the wagon on the road in November of 2012.
Now in its third season, the Souper Wagon is still running on community inspiration and high-quality, seasonal ingredients. Andrea’s and Chad’s motivation has always been to make people feel good with delicious food, and they are succeeding.
In addition to rolling into summer events, the Souper Wagon’s soups are served or stocked at Kings Beach’s Central Market. Andrea and Chad listen to what their customers want, and they cook with heart.
Many of Andrea’s soup recipes are Asian-inspired, with an emphasis on Thai. Although she was intent on always keeping a meat-based soup on the menu, she has found that people really dig her vegetarian and vegan soups during winter and summer.
This means a lot of them are created with the sweet richness of coconut milk, aromatic herbs such as rosemary and thyme and flavorful spices like cayenne and paprika.
In fact, over the past few years, she has seen more and more people gravitating toward vegetarian and vegan options. This, of course, greatly influences what she has to offer.
The Wagon’s summer fare almost always includes the organic veggie curry bowl served over rice with peanut sauce and cilantro. Also to that end, there is always a soup of the day like the local organic fingerling herbed potato salad or the quinoa salad with fresh parsley.
While the menu does serve gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, the idea is to be all-inclusive. Meat lovers come back time and time again for the pulled pork grilled cheese with chipotle barbecue sauce and sharp cheddar on Truckee Sourdough Company’s sliced ciabatta. The pulled pork is also served as fistfuls of tasty sliders on Hawaiian rolls with wasabi honey mustard coleslaw.
Kid customers favor the organic grass-fed beef hot dogs. Some magical days the hot dogs are even wrapped in bacon. To round out feeding time around the Wagon, there’s always a sweet dessert.
Andrea and Chad can be found parked at community events and free concerts on the North Shore between Tahoe City and Kings Beach during the summer. They are also expanding to cater more private events as Wagon customers book them for dress rehearsals and parties.
For a daily fix of homemade soup, Central Market carries one hot soup special each summer week featuring whatever fresh veggies and herbs are poking out of the nearby dirt.
Next week, Andrea foresees a vegan tomato basil. The rest of the year, several weekly options of Souper Wagon’s quarts of soup are sold in the cold case. Come fall, keep your eyes out for Liquid Gold — a curry soup with sweet potatoes, acorn and butternut squash.
Whenever you’re looking for healthy, edible comfort and love, the Souper Wagon is serving up what you need.
Ashley A. Cooper is a freelance writer residing in Truckee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.