Interning at Scripps Networks Interactive, home of the Food Network, HGTV, Cooking Channel, and Travel Channel, definitely has its perks. One such perk here at Scripps headquarters (for the next several weeks while the Food Network kitchens are getting a makeover) is the daily arrival of food trucks from around the Southeast.
There is a definite buzz throughout the office as excited staffers discover what delicious culinary surprises the day will bring. An internal website lets staff members know who to expect in the upcoming week – recent appearances have been made by Taco Sherpa, Tootsie Truck, Savory and Sweet, and Famous Nater’s. From dak galbi and bulgogi tofu tacos, to fresh Greek veggie wraps with roasted red pepper hummus, Scripps Networks has been treated to some seriously delicious street food.
On Tuesday morning, I had the pleasure of sampling the Monkey Town Donut Company, owned and operated since 2011 by Kris Spengler, originally of Seattle, Washington. Derived from the nickname “Monkey Town”, bestowed on Dayton, TN following the nation’s first case against teaching evolution in public schools, the Dayton-based Monkey Town Donut Company made the trek up to Knoxville on Monday, July 16th and Tuesday, July 17th. Everyone was delighted with the truck’s fresh, French-press coffee and mouth-watering mini donuts.
Sure, there are plenty of places around town to grab a donut; however, Kris isn’t simply serving your average, everyday Krispy Kreme. His donuts are made with wheat flour and fried in soybean oil, rendering them virtually guilt-free at only 30 calories per donut. They are made fresh to order – fried and lightly dusted with cinnamon and sugar right before the customers’ eyes. He keeps things very simple, by offering only his signature donuts, fresh coffee and limited beverages.
After speaking with Kris about his venture, I was eager to sample some of these special donuts. Walking out of the office building, the sweet smell of roasted coffee beans and cinnamon greeted me at the door. After settling on a dozen minis (the perfect amount to share with friends) and a 12 oz. freshly pressed coffee, I headed back inside to savor my snack. The donuts did not disappoint. Warm, light, and slightly sweet, they were the perfect complement to my cup of coffee.
Kris always wanted his own business and really started to get interested in the food truck phenomenon as it took off across the country several years ago. Watching such programs as Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race and Fox’s MasterChef, in which Gordon Ramsay featured several food trucks, made him realize that owning his own food truck could be possible.
Kris’ inspiration came from his hometown of Seattle – more specifically, from a small donut kiosk in Pikes Place Market, which was always extremely popular with the crowd. By personally converting his old trailer into a food truck (which he admits is a continuous work in progress), Kris decided to make his idea a reality. After completing extensive research, he was able to find the perfect machine with which to fry up his donuts and begin business. The Monkey Town Donut Company even takes innovation further than most food trucks, working to create a fantastic product in an environmentally sustainable way. Kris was able to utilize his background with the navy and nuclear propulsion to create a food truck that harnesses solar power to help provide the 110-volt standard required to run his equipment. This method has allowed his truck to go wireless and slows the depreciation of his batteries for a longer life.
To find out where you can indulge in these bite-sized sweets, check out the Monkey Town Donut Company on Facebook, where it posts information regarding upcoming events and locations. Currently, Kris can be found in Chattanooga, TN every Thursday at Warehouse Row, every Friday at Miller Plaza and every Sunday at the Chattanooga Farmers’ Market (Kris’ busiest day of the week). You can also hire the truck for $150.00/hour (2 hour minimum) for all of your private events and parties! Kris’ machine can churn out 3600 donuts/hour and has been a hit at wedding receptions and other events.