Chef Josh Yates of Savannah’s Green Truck Pub can be a pretty reserved guy. Although, if you get him talking about what he does at Green Truck, then his subtly smiling demeanor begins to beam brighter.
As he stands in front of his green '65 Chevy Stepside, the pub’s pseudo mascot, talking about his Saturday adventures in the local market, the ideas behind his food life is much simpler than expected. Yates has a humble approach to dining local, he does it with an understated panache that finds him serving food that everyone enjoys. He loves burgers and loves presenting them in a way that is both sustainable and tasty. He is also a big supporter of American brewed beers.
His kitsch-friendly pub is comfy and bustling, with seating at a premium. The small space has the sensibilities of a dive without the dirt, a genuine neighborhood spot.
Green Truck Pub offers a solid lineup of burgers, sandwiches, salads and seasonal specials sourced from local purveyors including Hunter Cattle Co, Walker Organic Farm, Ogeechee River Gardens, and Joseph Fields Farm.
We talked with Josh about his love for fermenting, his father’s early disdain for McDonald’s, and his favorite pickle.
Also, check below for Josh's recipe for their fiery Diablo Sauce.
Go check them out.
Hams + Yams What is your favorite kitchen tool?
Joshua Yates Right now I am really in to a pair of 5L Harsch Gairtopf fermentation crocks. After canning on the regular, my wife, Whitney, and I started to branch out in to fermenting. After reading through Sandor Katz's books, unbeknown to each other we both ordered the same crock on the same day. We decided not to return the spare and so we have the ability to run 2 different fermentations at once, typically a pickle and a kraut. These crocks are great for the water-filled v-channel that keeps fruit flies out while allowing gas bubbles to escape, and they also come with stones to keep your food submerged in the brine.
HY Where is your favorite late night hangout and what would we find you enjoying there?
JY The Sparetime was my favorite and unfortunately it just closed. Hand crafted cocktails, an inventive small plates menu, and an all-vinyl soundtrack. You might find me cozying up with a bourbon (neat) or a Bell's Two-Hearted Ale in Circa 1875 these days catching up with friends or for date night with the wife.
HY Talk about what makes sourcing local meats and produce for your creations the thing for you?
JY There are so many reasons. It's better for the environment. The animals are treated better. The quality is better. But one thing I keep coming back to is that I value the passion that these small farmers have. The people that I buy local ingredients from made a conscious choice to do things the hard way because they're passionate about it. You can buy cheap meat or produce from gigantic farm conglomerates or you can pay a little more to support the little guy who can't compete on scale or price but can only offer you their passion for superior quality to stay competitive.
The Ferguson family that owns and runs Hunter Cattle Company left the real estate business to start a grass-fed cattle farm. They made a decision to launch a difficult and demanding enterprise because of their passion and belief in humanely-raised meats. And it shows in both the product and the service. These values reflect our own values and that's why we prefer to do business with people like Hunter Cattle. Also, the beef is just so damn good.
HY Who, what or from where do you draw your influences, not just necessarily in cooking world, but in life, in general?
JY Without a doubt I have to say my father. He was a small businessman himself, and he really preferred to support other small businesses. He would never take us to places like McDonald's but instead we ate at all the local holes-in-the-wall. I was too young to remember this but he also had a short-lived bar-b-que stand. He'll tell you that it never made it because he spent too much on the best meats but didn't want to charge high prices. Understandably he was nervous when I left engineering to pursue opening my own restaurant.
My wife Whitney has also been a profound influence on my life, including many values pertaining to my culinary livelihood. She was the one that really enlightened me to be environmentally conscious, dabble in vegetarianism, and educate me on the benefits of organic food.
HY Describe your dream pickle
JY My holy grail of cucumber dill pickles would be combining the funky lacto-sour flavor of a fermented pickle with the cool snappy crispness of a refrigerator pickle. Add to the brine a large fennel head, a generous amount of garlic and a fistful of hot peppers and I'm in pickle nirvana.
Green Truck's Diablo Sauce
One of our more popular burger specials is the "El Diablo." It has a strong cult following among those that like the heat. We get our habanero peppers locally, and we're fortunate in Savannah to have such a long growing season for them (typically mid-Summer to late December or when the first freeze hits).
Take our grass-fed burger patty, top with pepper jack, pickled jalapenos and a generous dollop of "Diablo Sauce" and make sure to have plenty of water refills at the ready.
¼C garlic, peeled & diced
4 large carrots, shredded
4 large tomatoes, diced
¼ C cider vinegar
1C mayo, more or less to taste
Saute carrots until soft.
Add habaneros and garlic cook till soft.
Add tomatoes, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Cook down for at least 10 minutes.
Puree mixture with immersion blender or food processor, set aside to let cool.
When cool add mayo to desired thickness/creaminess. Mix well and chill.