INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The area’s newest food truck, Electric Blue Elephant, offers a plant-based menu and hopes to provide the option of vegan eating to the community.
“Basically we just want people to eat more vegetables,” said Kelly Eckel, baker and cook with Electric Blue Elephant.
Kelly and his business partners eat a lot of vegetables, adhering to a diet free from animal products.
Owners Rich Selden and Katie DiLibero teamed up with Kelly and Sarah Landau to create Electric Blue Elephant’s LOVE (Local Organic Vegan Eats) this year.
Their custom trailer is finally finished and the foursome is serving the vegan recipes they’ve been perfecting over the last few years.
“Above all is the taste,” Rich said. “If you just appreciate good food, you’ll appreciate our cuisine.”
TAKING FOOD TO THE STREET
The idea for Electric Blue Elephant came from their desire to offer more food options to eaters like themselves.
Katie and Rich also hope to expose dubious eaters to the flavors and taste combinations possible with a vegan diet.
“We don’t want to be out there preaching,” said Rich. “We just want to give people the option of having something healthy and flavorful.”
The crew rents kitchen space from Chuck Wagon of Tahoe in Incline Village and splits its time between Incline and Reno.
A food truck appealed most to Rich and Katie, as they wouldn’t be locked down to one location.
“If we’re on wheels we can go to where the people are,” Rich said.
Electric Blue Elephant has been participating in Reno Street Food on Fridays throughout the summer. The crew serves apple torts, bruscetta, Caesar salad and sandwiches with their own twist.
Electric Blue Elephant also specializes in house-made bread. Kelly bakes the bread from a sourdough culture, instead of using an active yeast.
Although more time consuming and delicate, this process results in heartier breads that are easier to digest.
“We’re using the best ingredients possible without grinding our own grain,” he said.
Electric Blue Elephant bread is sold at New Moon in Truckee.
MAKING CHANGES SLOWLY
Rich and Katie DiLibero began slowly cutting meat and dairy out of their diets six years ago and now raise their son, Ram, on a vegan diet.
The changes weren’t easy, the couple said, and their diet requires much planning and thinking ahead.
“The way we eat, it’s hard to find places to eat, especially with a young child,” said Rich.
The health benefits, like clearer skin, longer endurance and higher energy, are some things Rich, Katie, Kelly and Sarah say they’ve noticed since changing their diets.
“I cook because I have to eat every day,” Kelly said. “I feel like the type of food is important. It’s more than health —it’s consciousness.”
The challenges of eating out are what drove Sarah to be a part of a vegan eatery.
“I am the person who can’t go out to eat anywhere and I want to be able to go out to eat,” she said.
Instead of being a kitchen manager in a restaurant, Sarah is now creating her own recipes and working with Rich and Katie to create cuisine they all believe in.
“This is what I’ve been working for my whole life,” Sarah said.
Sarah said the best compliments are when customers order food, unaware that it is meatless, love it and order more.
FOLLOWING A VISION
The name “Electric Blue Elephant” came partly from Dr. Seuss’ famous children’s book “Horton Hears a Who.”
Katie was reading the book with her son and said the theme of the book really touched her.
“It was about hearing a small voice out there no one else could hear and taking the initiative,” Katie said. “We’re performing a service for people who want to eat healthy food but want it to taste good.”
On the cover of the book, Horton is a blue elephant. Elephants are Katie’s favorite animal, and they are, she said, “really strong and powerful vegans.”
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re performing a service for people who want to eat healthy food but want it to taste good.”