Last year was a recipe for disaster for most, but also a chance to reinvent and stir the pot. While the phrase “when everything is back to normal,” dominated most conversations and placed doubt on new opportunities, a silver lining, or in this case, a silver pan, revealed itself. When Megan Templeton and Nicole Craig of Northwest Arkansas were laid off from their jobs amidst the pandemic, they saw a window to pursue an idea they’d been cooking up for some time.
“Megan and I both worked in a hospitality group here in Northwest Arkansas, and when we were both let go during COVID, we got to talking about an idea we’d had for a while and said, “Well, let’s just do it together,”’ Craig says. “We thought we would do elevated sandwiches that play on the traditional view of what a sandwich is: two pieces of bread and something in between. Sandwich is a verb, you know, like you can sandwich anything.”
Templeton explains the name of their food truck, Shameless Food NWA, as a title that fully encompasses everything that is sandwiched in the duo and their food. “It’s sort of an age-old argument, especially in the service industry, of what is a sandwich? Is a taco a sandwich? A hotdog a sandwich? Can anything be a sandwich? We wanted to explore that feeling of being shameless about what you eat, shameless about these ideas about what a sandwich is, embracing it,” Templeton says. “We’re a woman-owned business and unabashedly shameless about that, and most of the people we work with are women-owned companies from our branding, to our accounting, to our website, to our photographer, all of that empowerment.”
The Avion trailer-turned-sandwich making machine uses fresh and local ingredients for each of the four sandwiches currently on the menu. “We would like to consider ourselves hyper-local as we work with farmers, ranchers and business owners in the area,” Templeton says. The local food items featured in each dish will mainly consist of seasonal ingredients the two women can get their hands on, so Craig plans on changing the menu up each quarter of the year to accommodate for what produce is available at that time. The current sandwiches on the menu include the Otafuku, a vegetarian sandwich made with fried tofu, seasonal kimchi, General Tso’s mayonaise on a Bolilio roll; the Devereaux, a fried chicken thigh, kimcheese (kimchi whipped with cream cheese), cucumber muchim on a sweet potato totffle (tater tot waffle); DA #2, an amped up BLT made with bacon, tomato muchim, bibb lettuce, michelada mayonnaise on Hawaiian bread; and the PB Love, a specialty PBJ made with peanut butter, strawberry preserves on a waffle that Craig has had success with before. “This is a thing that I cooked in Cannes, France for the film festival years ago and we were all kind of playing around with food one day and did this peanut butter and jelly thing and it just worked. I always told my friends there in Cannes that I was going to put it on my menu one day. Many people requested that we put bacon on it, so we’ve added that as an option on the menu,” Craig says.
Encouraging customers to be just as shameless about their food choices, Craig and Templeton have added a comment area on their website and are looking to be interactive on social media in order to learn what the people consider a sandwich. The website input asks that customers fill out what they would like on their perfect sandwich – which could be anything and everything under the sun – and Shameless Food NWA could feature that sandwich creation on the chalkboard menu. “We want to know what they would like to see on the menu and the feedback they have for us,” says Templeton. “We’ve completely fallen in love with wanting to give back to the community that’s given us so much, and so, again, we’re shamelessly presenting a fun, funky menu that challenges taste buds.”
Check out their full menu and location on their website and let them know how you sandwich!