Serrano in Old City may have served its last meal on June 28th, but starting tonight there will still be dishes coming out of the kitchen. Chef Meghan Carnevale will be running the show (and her first kitchen) this summer as Ranch Road Taco Shop, Carnevale’s beloved taco truck, hosts a midsummer pop up at the now-closed-for-renovations Serrano.
Chef Carnevale is a self-taught cook who, 7 years ago, was looking to fill her days while living in Toulouse, France with her husband. Due to visa restrictions, Carnevale was unable to work abroad. Instead she occupied her time with trips to local markets overflowing with produce, meats and cheeses from which she drew inspiration and prompted her to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
A year later, Carnevale’s husband accepted a job at Drexel University and the couple made the move to Philadelphia. Tired of all things classified as mexican fusion and elaborate, not-so-traditional tacos masquerading as real south of the border fare, Carnevale and her Texas-born husband craved something closer to home. Inspired by her husband’s southwest taste buds, Carnevale began cooking classic, no frills, good ol’ Mexican food. Then came the taco truck, now a staple on Drexel’s campus.
After being approached by the powers that be at Serrano, Carnevale was delighted to take over the kitchen during the summer months and showcase her talents. Her enthusiasm for taking over was due partly to the agonizing thought of spending one of Philadelphia’s notoriously hot summers cooped up in a little food truck, coupled with the lack of hungry students roaming campus in the warmer months. Carnevale commented on her excitement about her new challenge, saying, “It would give me experience in a real kitchen which I’ve never actually had before. I wanna cook new things that I can’t make on the truck.” And the chef is doing just that. Carnevale will be preparing a blackened catfish taco ($4), which she doesn’t usually have the freedom to do on the truck.
Ranch Road Taco shop will also be dishing up elotes in a cup ($4), a mexican-style street corn with an ancho lime aioli and asiago cheese, and the chef’s favorite, a cochinita pibil taco ($4)--a pulled pork taco traditional to the Yucatán Peninsula. All the ingredients are locally sourced from the Philadelphia and Lancaster area (hooray for buying local!). Oh, and one more thing? All the hot sauces are homemade, too. As a companion to your tacos and pomegranite guac ($6), there will be a selection of sangria, signature cocktails, boutique wines and craft beer available.
As for the future, Carnevale doesn’t know what’s coming next. Could time spent in the kitchen prime her for something more than a truck? Maybe. But for now Carnevale says, “I love the cart. I love talking to people and the interaction with those people through the cart. I just try to take it day by day and we’ll see. We didn’t know the state of the truck two months ago, so after two months at Serrano we’ll have to see what happens.”
The pop-up runs from 5pm to midnight, Wednesday through Saturday beginning tonight until early August at Serrano in Old City.
Ranch Road Tacos [Twitter]