Mac Shack: Serving Up Comfort Food on Wheels

By: Toni Cunningham | September 9, 2013
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As the temperatures cool (later this week that is) and the leaves begin to fall, it’s time for one thing: comfort food.

Should your deepest food-related desires include mac and cheese and French fries, get ready for your pipe dream to become a reality. The Mac Shack is a Metro Detroit food truck that serves up both.

Food veteran Dan Gearig launched the Mac Shack with his wife, Lindsey, in May of 2012. Under the moniker StrEAT Detroit, the two also operate El Guapo. After seeing a need for mobile food in Detroit, Gearig swiftly made the transition from pizzeria owner to food truck caterer to street food entrepreneur.

“We chose to do mac and cheese and fries because they are both so versatile, and we knew we would hit a wide audience,” Gearig said.

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Originally, they planned on opening a grilled cheese and mac and cheese truck, but decided to postpone the sandwiches and focus on Gearig’s specialty—great mac. Even still, the cheese sauce was a work in progress and took time (not to mention several rounds of taste-testing) to perfect.

The menu features seven mac and cheese varieties, including Cheechs’ Trip (chorizo, jalapeno, pico de gallo and spicy cheese), The Bacon Made Me Do It (Applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes and green onions) and I-80 (beef brisket gravy, wild mushrooms, caramelized onions and a fried egg).

“The different toppings just come from adapting different flavors that work well together, mixing the creamy with the salty, and cleansing with some sort of acidity like tomatoes or Sriracha or jalapenos,” Gearig said.

While the menu has its staples, you’ll likely find a specialty dish on any given day. With so many different flavor combinations, the craziest concoction Gearig has ever come up with was Koh San Road Mac.

“I put Sriracha on the mac, no surprise there, and thought it could use some texture, so I added green onions and then realized it was taking on a Thai flavor profile, so I added some bean sprouts, peanuts and a lime. And it worked!” Gearig said.

And what’s the perfect side dish to a cheesy bowl of mac, you ask? French fries, obviously. There are three kinds to choose from, including Garlic Parm, Cheese and Bacon, and Poutine.

Gearig’s passion for food, as well as his love for the city of Detroit, is what makes the Mac Shack work, regardless of the day-to-day challenges brought about by weather and other logistics.

“We have so much pride when we look around Detroit, to see our friends selling their goods, to watch young businesses grow, to celebrate each other’s wins. To think that we have a tiny part in all of this is a feeling that’s hard to articulate, but a feeling that is pretty neat,” Gearig said.

The Mac Shack will take part in a food truck rally at the Royal Oak Farmers Market on Wednesday, September 11 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can get your mac and cheese fix this weekend, too, at Ferndale’s DIY Street Fair from 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Typically, the year-round truck sticks to the same areas, including Eastern Market and Cadillac Square. Check out the online schedule to see where the Mac Shack will be every day of the week!