• WHAT: Great Valley Bookfest includes authors, seminars, slam poetry, arts & crafts, Halloween costume contest for kids, gourmet food trucks, cooking demonstrations, and more
• WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• WHERE: The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley, Bass Pro Shop, 120 Bypass & Union Road
• COST: Free
• MORE INFO: Go to www.greatvalleybookfest.org
Keith Breedlove knows his way around a kitchen.
In his 30 years in food service he has held every sort of job imaginable, from the head chef of international hotels to the private food preparer of celebrities.
But he always loved getting his hands dirty.
Sure he one day dreamed of owning his own restaurant. But if he ever did so, he wanted to make sure that he got to do more than just pick out a menu and the ingredients that ended up in the walk-in. Cooking was what he loved. It’s why he got into the business in the first place.
So when the opportunity finally presented itself last year to team with his best friends and open up a mobile eatery that put a unique rockabilly spin to traditional American eats, he leapt at the chance. The ideas wouldn’t stop coming and he knew that it was a chance to provide some of the favorites he long wanted to whip up.
“It was a chance to cook the sorts of things that I wanted to cook,” Breedlove said. “It’s all down-home style cooking – chicken and dumplings and shepherd’s pie and smoked tri-tip and over-the-top hamburgers. It’s great because we’re not in the same spot day-after-day and I get to meet different people when we move, and it’s just a great experience.
“It’s different, and that’s what I like about it.”
Last year Breedlove – a self-professed “book nerd” – said he was proud to be a part of the first annual Great Valley Bookfest, even if he spent most of his time whipping up food and didn’t get much of a chance to get out and chat with authors and meet some of the more talented people the region has to offer.
He doesn’t expect that’ll change this year. While the number of gourmet food trucks has increased dramatically in his home area – he believes that the number has doubled in their first year of operation – so has the number of die-hard customers that follow their daily social media postings to see where in town they’ll be and deliberately go out of their way to find them.
Breaking into new territories, like ones further south in Manteca, only helps add prospective customers down the road and help build that solid, word-of-mouth advertising that is so crucial for a small business like Papa Dale’s.
“At first the hard part for us was learning how to cook everything that we had on the menu on a truck – in that small space,” he said. “But now that we’re used to it, I absolutely love coming to work every day. I get to see all sorts of different people and it’s not the same building day-in and day-out.
“It’s a little bit more laid-back – it’s a different gig, and that’s nice. And hopefully we can convey that spirit on to our customers.”
The Second Annual Great Valley Bookfest will run on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley. For additional information visit www.greatvalleybookfest.org.