Like many restaurant workers, Pittsburgh residents Cody Maze and Ariel Alexander found themselves out of work due to the pandemic. Maze picked up a bartending job, impressed some regulars and ended up with a food truck.
The story isn’t quite that simple, but it is straight out of a dream. The Pennsylvania natives were asked to cater a small wedding party with guests from Texas. What better way to serve Texans than with barbecue? So they fired up the grill and ended up impressing one of the hosts so much that he asked if they would be interested in running a full-on smoker. After all the conceptualizing, permitting and planning, that idea turned into a 30-foot food truck called stuntpig.
When you hear “pig,” you probably think barbecue, but stuntpig isn’t serving up your basic pulled pork and mac and cheese. Instead, they’re feeding loyal customers stacked sandwiches with smoked meats and homemade condiments. Add to that the luck of silent partners who used their architecture and engineering backgrounds to help design and develop the truck, and then stepped back when it came time to execute on concept and menu.
Maze and Alexander picked up the truck in February 2021 and started smoking and curing everything for their hit sandwiches. Everything except the bread. “We don’t want to mess up the bread,” said Maze.
Maze’s passion for smoking and Alexander’s background as a butcher and in curing meats made this concept a natural fit, but neither of them ever dreamed of operating a food truck. “We both were pretty comfortable in the spots we were at, but a lot of things changed due to covid,” said Maze.
The truck is now a feature at local breweries thanks to the pair’s connections in the industry. Stuntpig has become a member of a thriving local food truck scene that Maze describes as super friendly with much less competition than the restaurant industry.
So what exactly are they cooking? Their menu depends on the curing and smoking schedule for the meats, so the sandwiches on offer usually have some combination of brisket, pastrami, ham, pulled pork and smoked chicken, all done in house. Some nights are as busy as in the restaurants they worked at previously, minus the alcohol.
Three of the top sellers are the pulled pork with fennel slaw, the house cured pastrami (they can go through five brisket’s worth in three or four days) and the Mister Orange, a smoked chicken sandwich with homemade peri peri sauce full of chiles, ginger and garlic. They’ve gotten to the point where they know how much meat to prep for a weekend full of service, but they still end up running out of some favorites by Sunday.
The biggest thing they’ve learned is that anything can go wrong on a food truck. “You have to be a mechanic, an electrician, a plumber and every other horrible thing,” said Maze.
As for the future, they’re happy parking their rig and serving sandwiches to the people of Pittsburgh, but they also offer private catering and are looking forward to some weddings in 2022. Maybe one day they’ll open a sandwich shop, but for now Maze said: “We’re so damn busy that I kind of forget how this thing all came to be until somebody asks me.”
Dare we say it seems as though they’ve pulled off the biggest stunt of all.
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