Vegan/Organic Truck “Snails” Into Hoboken

By Elyse Fetherman

Whoever said that all food-on-the go was greasy and fattening never took a trip to Hoboken. Snugly nestled near the PATH train entrance, the Cinnamon Snail vegan and organic food truck offers its customers fresh, healthful options for breakfast, lunch, and dessert.

Owned by Adam Sobel, the eco-friendly paradise on wheels opened its hatch on Feb. 14 to serve up complimentary apple-cider doughnuts.

Sobel, the mastermind chef of the vegan and organic truck, said the concept came to him about eight years ago. Sobel owns Certified Orgasmic, a full-service vegan and organic catering service, and he wanted to introduce gourmet vegetarian cuisine to a larger audience. However, Sobel did not want to be out of the house and away from his daughters for too long, which meant a brick and mortar restaurant was out of the question.

Sobel and his wife had already been searching for a used food truck for several years. After finding a rundown old hot dog truck on Craigslist, the Sobels took a trip to Newark to check it out.

With a little imagination, he and his wife saw something special in the truck. Eleven thousand dollars later, Sobel was the new owner of the 20-year old Grumman step truck that would become the Cinnamon Snail.

After three months of hard refurbishing work and lots of help from skilled friends, the Cinnamon Snail food truck was transformed into a well-equipped, industrial kitchen. Daniel Levine, a good friend of Sobel’s, added the finishing graphic touches on the Cinnamon Snail.

With a fully functional kitchen and an eye-catching graphic design, the Cinnamon Snail was on its way to opening day to serve up gourmet vegan and organic fare.

But why vegan? According to Sobel, the choice to eat vegan and organic is a conscious choice to avoid violence. “The idea of vegan cuisine is to make foods that do not rely on animal products of any kind, as a means to “boycott” cruelty,” says Sobel. In order to fulfill his non-violent promise, the Cinnamon Snail menu is free of all animal products and is 100 percent cholesterol-free according to Sobel.

As for his choice to create an organic menu, Sobel believes that it is our job to take care of the earth as much as we can. “The fact that our food is organic stems from a basic respect for the ecology of our planet,” said Sobel. “We really love this place we live in, and as stewards of this planet, we have to treat it with care.”

As a result, Sobel’s menu does not include any ingredients that have been grown with synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides.

Sobel, who never thought he would become vegan, made the switch after working at an upscale non-vegetarian restaurant. “I found myself often standing up for the rare vegetarian customer to the annoyed line cooks,” says Sobel. “Finally one day, while arguing the merits of vegetarianism to one of the cooks who was rolling his eyes about modifying one of the dishes, my challenge came. The cook turned to me and said ‘Well Adam, why aren’t you vegetarian then?’” That day, Sobel went vegetarian and about a year later, after having his first child, he decided to go vegan.

Self-taught in the culinary arts and cooking professionally for almost 10 years Sobel remains humble about his accomplishments. “’Chef’ is a pretty hefty word for someone who licks cake battered spoons don’t you think?” he jokes.

Chef or not, Sobel cooks up a large menu of original recipes. According to Sobel, he and his wife wake up around 2:30 a.m. to bake fresh pastries and donuts for the day.

For Sobel, the fun of cooking is the ability to create. “Having my own truck, I can get as carried away as I want creatively,” he says. “I can finally create the food of my wildest dreams with no limitations.”

According to Sobel, a dish brews in his mind for days before he actually tries it out. The most inspiring food, for him, is the kind that showcases the natural flavors. “I am not into fake meat, or fake cheese. I am into ‘Wow, that Portobello mushroom carpaccio is really rich and the flavor of the olive tapenade really bring it to life!’”.

Some common ingredients that Sobel toys with include extra virgin olive oil and tempeh, a soybean-based product with origins in Indonesia. And while he admits that organic ingredients certainly do cost more than the conventional counterparts, Sobel still manages to keep the prices reasonable. “I want to turn as many people as I can onto nourishing non-violent food,” he says. “The only way to do that is for me to make a little less profit.”

The Cinnamon Snail also enhances its eco-friendly and environmentally responsible cause through biodegradable packaging. According to Sobel, all of the packaging, even down to the forks, will become soil once again. “I really don’t like turning our planet into a landfill,” says Sobel.

Now, with weekend hours, The Cinnamon Snail has become a vegan and organic lunchtime staple in Hoboken. According to Sobel, the truck has lots of repeat customers from Hoboken and New York City. “Our typical customer could be described as vibrant, wonderful, imperfect, and out to radically change the world into a harmonic paradise,” explains Sobel.

Continuing its goal to bring nourishing non-violent food to a wide audience, every Sunday following Mother’s Day, the Cinnamon Snail will also be running in Red Bank. However, the best way for hungry customers to find the truck is to follow its location on Twitter and Facebook.

And it is the Cinnamon Snail’s Facebook page that perhaps sums up its mission best by describing the truck as “a projection of the bliss and delight from the depths of our hearts.” Sobel elaborates:

“We did all this out of the love we have for you, and every other creature who will directly or indirectly benefit from the truck. It is for the person who enjoys the food, as much as it is for the animals that will not be forced to suffer to make the food. We hope that the end result of the truck brings peace, bliss, and pleasure to everyone!”

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