Five minutes with: Frank Foley

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Parked at the curb just kitty-corner from Axiom Church in Old Town Peoria, Arizona, you’ll find Pearly’s Diner, a new food truck serving up breakfast and lunch six days a week. The food truck is the creation of Axiom member Frank Foley, a professional chef trained at Johnson and Wales University Culinary School. While shredding potatoes for tomorrow’s latke, Frank reflected on his vision for Pearly’s Diner and Old Town Peoria.

Why did you decide your food truck would be a diner?

My first job as a cook was in a diner so I have a deep and abiding love for the lowly diner. Diners are not about the name of the chef or how “Instagrammable” your food looks. Diners are incredible community facilitators about getting the same people to come around week after week. When I thought about the restaurant I could do for the rest of my life, it was a diner.

How did you choose your location?

Axiom opened a playground to help restore this Old Town neighborhood. I spent a lot of time on that corner becoming aware of the needs of the community. People would bring their kids to play, but there was nothing to eat. The city’s green space across the street was a perfect place for guerrilla-style dining where you pull up the trailer and serve some simple food. We want more people to come down and stay and come back to get inspired the way we have.

How can you operate a food truck in summer in Arizona?

With my two-ton air conditioning it can be 115 outside and just 85 in the truck. As far as professional kitchens go, that’s pretty cool. I’ve worked in kitchens where the thermometer in my jacket shows 140 degrees.

What is your workday like?

I’m usually up at 4, spend a half hour centering myself and then head to the gym to get the blood pumping, ready to face the inevitable problems that will need to be solved. I’m in the truck by 6. We serve breakfast and lunch from 8am till the generator runs out of gas about 2 p.m. It’s 4 or 5 p.m. by the time we do all the clean down and prep for the next day.

What do chefs know that the church could learn from?

The term mise en place is big in chef culture. It refers to everything in its place and becomes a real lifestyle—make sure your prep is done and utensils are in place so when the work gets tough things are where they are supposed to be. The mise en place as Christians is putting Christ in front of everything else—to put my life in order whether in giving or serving. When Pearly’s tithes she does it at the beginning of the month. If you prioritize serving it’s easier to do and helps you to be true to what you commit to.

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