Off the Beaten Path with Back Road BBQ
June 15, 2018
Inside a 24-by-8 trailer parked in Hardwick is the sweet smell of pulled pork, dry rubbed ribs, and smoked mac and cheese. Outside is a line of hungry customers eager to place their orders on a sunny spring afternoon before the start of a Vermont Vaudeville show.
This is just a typical day for Back Road BBQ, a roving food truck business established in 2016 by Brock Miller, Isaac Gresser, Charlie Lee and Ben Notterman. While food trucks have become all the rage over the past few years—especially in the Burlington area—Back Road BBQ distinguishes itself in a couple of ways.
The company is based in Cabot, and the food truck can be found at events outside of Chittenden County, from Greensboro and Craftsbury to Montpelier and Brookfield. Even better, Back Road BBQ is very much a “farm to food truck,” specializing in dishes made from locally raised whole hogs from co-owner Notterman’s Snug Valley Farm in East Hardwick.
Back Road BBQ: From Pop-Up to Food Truck
Back Road BBQ got its start on Miller’s Cabot property when the group decided to do a pop-up BBQ event in the spring of 2016. A few months earlier, Miller had been working in a restaurant in Hardwick, called A Vermont Place, which is where he met Lee and Gresser (Notterman was the restaurant’s protein supplier, and Notterman and Miller have known each other since eighth grade).
But things changed abruptly in December 2015, when Miller broke his back while cutting trees on his land, laying him up for months and forcing the restaurant to close. The injury prompted Miller to reexamine his career, and the group hatched the concept for Backroad BBQ.
“When we talked about what to do next, all four of us decided we wanted to do a BBQ food truck rather than a brick and mortar restaurant,” Miller says. “We love what we do. I think what I enjoy most is making our food for people in all different settings—at an event, a brewery, or show. The variety of it all is so amazing, and it really makes up for the fact that we’re working 12-hour days.”
All four are equal partners. Miller is the general manager and handles booking, clients and payroll, Gresser is the pit master and cooks the pigs, Lee supervises the trailer and drives the truck from location to location, and Notterman provides the protein. All of them have other jobs: Gresser and Lee work in restaurants, Notterman runs his farm and teaches, and Miller is the food service director for the Cabot School District.
Between May and October, you’ll find Back Road BBQ at events in northern and central Vermont, including Foodaroo in Middlebury and Farm to Ballet in Wolcott. Back Road BBQ has also teamed up with local breweries and occasionally serves at Hill Farmstead in Greensboro and Red Barn Brewing in Danville. You can also catch Back Road BBQ at Arts Riot in Burlington, the Worcester Farmers’ Market, Nest Bakery in Essex Junction, and the Sweet Spot in Waitsfield.
Just make sure you arrive hungry.
For more information, visit www.backroadbbqvt.com.