Public News (Houston) - - FRONT PAGE - by Matt Ver­non

Sea­son 4 Mas­ter Chef win­ner Luca Manfe owned and op­er­ated The Lucky Fig Food Truck.

If you go to Lu­ca­, in his in­tro­duc­tion Luca Manfe ex­plains, “I am an Ital­ian who left his home coun­try just out of his twen­ties and came to The States to fol­low the Amer­i­can Dream.” He is a dreamer who loves food! Not all dreams go the way we would wish. Luca moved from Aviano in North­ern Italy to New York where he worked as a man­ager in a hand­ful of res­tau­rants. Work­ing along chefs, he was very com­fort­able in the kitchen and per­fected a style of cook­ing that was all his own. Af­ter win­ning Mas­ter Chef, cook­book au­thor and TV per­son­al­ity Luca Manfe opened The Lucky Fig, a farm to table food truck.

Luca says he is a self-taught chef that learned by watch­ing videos, fol­low­ing recipes and ex­per­i­ment­ing. He makes his own pas­tas, his own cia­batta bread for sand­wiches, his own fresh ri­cotta from lo­cal milk and his own may­on­naise from lo­cal, or­ganic cage free eggs. His food is fresh, safe and de­li­cious. The way food was meant to be. What Luca of­fered was truly in­cred­i­ble, fresh Ital­ian cui­sine out of a 1954 Ford P500, an old USPS de­liv­ery truck that was ren­o­vated to house a mod­ern kitchen. He also uses only eco-friendly pack­ing for his food and drinks. His dream was to own a truck that served in­cred­i­ble tast­ing, or­ganic food in green pack­ag­ing.

He says he de­signs his menu based on the fresh­est in­gre­di­ents and re­ly­ing on lo­cal farm­ers. He only uses lo­cal meats that are grass fed and pas­tured. His pork is non-GMO. He buys only or­ganic cheeses, dairy and pro­duce from nearby farms. Most de­vel­oped na­tions do not con­sider GMOs to be safe. In fact, 38 coun­tries have out­right banned them, while many other coun­tries in­clud­ing Italy en­force la­bel­ing.

Luca had me­chan­i­cal is­sues on his truck. It broke down on him sev­eral times. He had to re­place the en­gine. He had equip­ment fail­ures. Luca also saw what un­pre­dictable weather does for a food truck. Rain, very hot weather and cold weather keep prospec­tive clients from going out to eat at food trucks. In ad­di­tion, with all the ef­fort and work that went into sourc­ing fresh, qual­ity in­gre­di­ents and mak­ing some of the city’s finest Ital­ian food, he says some peo­ple just wanted a ham­burger. Af­ter just a few months at Dea­con Baldys, Luca de­cided to shut down his truck and fo­cus on pri­vate cater­ings. The city of Hous­ton mourned the clos­ing.

In March, Luca part­nered with Lance and Brett Martin to cre­ate de­liv­ery Ital­iano, a new food sub­scrip­tion box ser­vice that de­liv­ers au­then­tic, made-in-Italy pantry sta­ples to your door each month. The cool thing is that these are all non-per­ish­able prod­ucts so you can or­der at any time and don’t have to worry about cook­ing it right away. You can’t find these foods in your lo­cal gro­cery store: these are all unique ar­ti­sanal “Made in Italy” prod­ucts from small fam­ily run com­pa­nies. Ev­ery month you’ll get recipe and cul­tural cards with all his recipes and de­scrip­tion of prod­ucts. Check him out on­line and help sup­port De­liv­ery­i­tal­ Learn from a Masterchef how to cook great Ital­ian at home!

Photo credit: Face­book


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