Vegan Life Talks to Chef Adam Sobel, the Man Behind Food Truck ‘The Cinnamon Snail’ About His Road to Success
The Cinnamon Snail is widely considered to be one of the best food trucks in America, winning media plaudits and prizes, and gaining legions of fans who’ll queue around the block to sample chef Adam Sobel’s delicious vegan food.
The truck, named after its trademark cinnamon buns, tours New York City, with patrons having to find its location – which changes daily – by tracking the team’s social media.
After several years on the road, Adam has finally released a cookbook called Street Vegan, which he describes as ‘full of yummy things, wacky stories about our adventures on the streets on NYC, and loads of mouthwatering pictures’ (turn over for some delicious recipes). He talks to Vegan Life about his lifestyle, success, and plans for the future.
“Before I myself became vegan, I fell in love with Joey, my wonderful talented and adorable wife,” Adam says. “She was the first vegan person I had ever gotten really close with, and I admired the ethics behind her lifestyle.
“I started learning to cook so that I could make really yummy nourishing food for her. Working in restaurants, people would come in and ask for menu items modified to vegetarian or vegan, and I kept finding myself sticking up for them, as the other cooks made fun of them. Finally, one of the cooks asked me ‘If you believe in this so much, why aren’t YOU vegetarian?’
“And he had a good point. I decided at that point to start living more in alignment with my principals. About a year later, my wife and I had our first daughter Idil, who now works with me on our food truck sometimes.
“During Joey’s long labor at home (we had a homebirth) I had a realization about nursing. It’s such an important physical and emotional connection between a mother and her child. I felt like I would never want to stand in the way of that relationship for any other living being again. The day my daughter was born, I became vegan, and in one day, I experienced two of the best things that ever happened to me in my life.”
After working in vegan restaurants for several years, Adam started to feel he was ‘preaching to the choir’. In order to bring the food to a wider audience, he had to literally take to the streets.
He says: “I wanted people who really didn’t care about veganism (yet) to see the huge display case of vegan donuts, and a line down the block, and check it out.
“I really made our menu as attractive to non-veg eaters as possible, and have tried to break down some of the misconceptions people have about this type of cuisine.
“I don’t know whether non-vegans are surprised by how good the food is. We have been really lucky to get a lot of media coverage, and amazing reviews, and awards, so honestly, what harder is living up to the extreme hype new eaters have seen about us before we serve them.
“I think most of the time non-vegans get their minds blown. I hope that’s the case at least!”
It’s not only the animals who reap the benefits of the business’ ethos. The homeless and poor are invited to talk to staff, who will offer them something to eat.
“It’s pretty simple really,” says Adam. “If someone is poor and in need of a meal, and I have a truck full of yummy nourishing food right in front of them, what kind of monster would I be to not give them something good to eat?”
The chef is somewhat surprised by the success of Cinnamon Snail, saying he would never have set out to do this if he didn’t think he would pull it off.
“I never really thought we would help develop quite as much recognition for veganism as we have been able to,” he explains.
“I knew people would love the food, because I am confident in my ability to make good food, but I never imagined the lines which would sometimes be over 100 people deep. That was just pretty crazy.”
And now there are exciting plans for another, more permanent outlet for his delicious offerings.
Adam says: “I can’t say too much about it at this point, but we have an awesome opportunity that is coming together for an NYC brick and mortar location, which is slated to open before the end of 2015.”