Chef Chat

Chef Chat, Part 2: Joe Phillips of Oh My! Pocket Pies

This week we're getting to know do-it-yourself street food entrepreneur Joe Phillips of Oh My! Pocket Pies. Today he tells the story of the truck's paint job and talks about the challenges of owning of a food truck in Houston.

EOW: Who did the graffiti on the truck?

JP: We had a contest on our website and Droid (the artist) won. We interviewed him and loved his attitude -- he had so much energy -- and I wanted to promote his artwork in Houston. I'm glad we helped him; it got him more jobs and he's been a friend ever since.

EOW: For those not familiar, are pocket pies the same as pot pies?

JP: Not the same, but similar to empanadas, turnovers, or hand pies. We like to fill them with comfort food, like Salisbury steak, chicken pot pie and pot roast. Even our website has a retro feel to it, and takes you back to the days when comfort food was all you had. People seem to always be on the go, and forget what food tastes like 'cause they're in a hurry, or choosing the drive-thru, and we want to remind them how real food should taste.

EOW: Shrimp burgers are a pretty rare sighting, where did this idea come from?

JP: Joanna went to Japan one year, and one of the first things she ate was a shrimp burger. They're pure ground shrimp made into a patty with seasoning. We make ours with Gulf shrimp with greens and onions, and a Sriracha-mayo sauce. They're not easily found throughout Houston, and it fills people up in the right way.

EOW: What are some difficulties you've faced that most restaurants don't?

JP: The truck recently needed some work, and when the truck is out of commission, the restaurant is out of commission. We have certain permits with the city that restaurants don't have. And when the weather is hot or cold, or it's raining, people don't want to be outside. The weather has a big effect, and we're subjected to the elements.

EOW: I hear the city of Houston is fairly strict for food trucks. What are your thoughts?

JP: Yeah, unfortunately the rules and regulations are really strict, one of the strictest cities in the country. Hopefully, if we work together, things will start to change because we help out the local economy. A lot of the gourmet food trucks are run by people who've been in the restaurant industry for a while and support local vendors, which boosts the local economy. It's a cycle that works well together.

EOW: What's the ultimate goal?

JP: For us, brand our name and product, and open up our own little cafe. The first step is learning how to crawl, then we can stand on our own two feet. It's already been a year, and we're getting ready to run.

Come back tomorrow, when we try the shrimp burger and the namesake pocket pies.

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Nancy Kerschen