Carter has consistently had a creative side as he grew up, whether sketching, painting or writing short stories. Four years into his time at Appalachian State University and three changes in academic major, the only consistent thing was his time working in Boone area restaurants after classes and on weekends. This is where he felt he could tap into his creativity and imagine, design, build new flavor combinations and dishes. And he found he’d rather spend his time learning about food and cooking. “Interestingly, I found my true passion at App State – as my parents always encouraged me to do when I left for college – but App didn’t offer a culinary degree,” Carter said. So, similar to Shorty’s journey, Carter left school to devote his energy to cooking full time in kitchens at the Green Park Inn and Storie Street Grille in Blowing Rock, as well as the popular restaurant Proper in Boone. Working his way up from prep and grill, to ordering and working with local farmers on selecting produce and proteins, Carter quickly moved up in responsibility but his passion has always been in creating. “I love the process of creating a meal or special from scratch, from starting with seasonally available ingredients and thinking through the whole prep process and then plating everything in a beautiful way really gets me going. Many people in the food industry despise this strenuous process but I saw a certain elegance to it that drew my attention. I was surrounded by people who saw food differently and appreciated the art of cooking and being able to create a simple art piece each day that you get to eat is pretty neat to me.”
"Many people in the food industry don't care for the strenuous process of cooking seasonally from scratch but I saw a certain elegance to it that drew my attention."
Erica “Shorty” Imhoff
So how does a chemical engineering student at LSU of Thai descent end up a partner & chef on a food truck? Sometimes a crisis creates new opportunity. Just five classes from earning her degree, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Shorty didn’t return to school. “Although I went to school for something completely different, I was still working in kitchens while in school. I found that I enjoy the people more in kitchens. Also, I just like the creativity, flavors, and processes of cooking. It's like chemistry, only tastes better.” From the age of 16, Shorty was cooking. First, it was out of necessity as both of her parents worked full time and then out of love, as her mother opened an Asian restaurant where Shorty began honing her skills and learning traditional Thai methods and recipes from her mother. After relocating to Western North Carolina, she worked at a variety of local restaurants (Bistro 1896, Ambrozia) and food trucks before the opportunity to collaborate and join forces with a few other local chefs to launch a food truck. “I worked with Carter in a variety of settings and they just had that perfect combination of a love of genuine food, talent in preparing creative dishes, and a desire to work hard to be successful. I knew I wanted to be in business with them, because we’re all on the same page food wise and frankly, we have a blast cooking together,” she said. And in terms of the type of food they wanted to serve, Thai was a natural. “We all love Thai food, and it’s part of my heritage,” Shorty explains. “I like how it is a delicate balance of texture, and taste; sweet, spicy, salty, bitter, sour. The processes of muddling herbs to release the oils and aromatic aspects always gives me goose bumps and makes my mouth water uncontrollably. The combinations of herbs and roots and spices are invigorating.”
“We all love Thai food, and it’s part of my heritage,” Shorty explains. “I like how it is a delicate balance of texture, and taste; sweet, spicy, salty, bitter, sour...The combinations of herbs and roots and spices are invigorating.”
Kyle's road to Bun Intended was drastically different than Carter and Shorty's. After he graduated from Appalachian State in 2012, he ventured off to Denver, CO to work in fundraising and marketing for a nonprofit organization (and snowboard as much as possible). After a few years in the Rockies, he sold all of his belongings and set off to backpack in Europe and Asia for six months. On the road he learned from arious cultures and experienced unique food from all over the world, but Thailand was where he fell in love.
"I'll never forget the first time I ate authentic Thai food from a street vendor in Chiang Mai. The flavors were so robust and all the ingredients seemed to flow together to create the perfect bite. This quickly became my favorite cuisine".
He came home from traveling and joined his little brother Carter in Asheville to finish writing a book about his travels called Not Afraid of the Fall. During this time, they met Shorty and began floating around the idea of starting a food truck together. It was a late night with all three partners sitting around Kyle and Carter's kitchen table that the idea (and name) of Bun Intended was born. Kyle's role was to tell our story and develop partnerships with vendors, clients, breweries and customers.
"I never had the passion for cooking that they did, but I love building and marketing businesses and that is the my role here at Bun Intended - to tell our story and connect with the community so the chefs
can focus on the food. Not to mention, I can't think of two more honest, hardworking individuals to partner with than Carter and Shorty".
"I'll never forget the first time I ate authentic Thai food from a street vendor in Chiang Mai. The flavors were so robust and all the ingredients seemed to flow together to create the perfect bite. This quickly became my favorite cuisine."
Three partners with a ton of culinary experience and a passion for Thai food started the Bun Intended food truck with a simple goal: serve unique, delicious Thai-inspired street food on steamed buns and bao to friends, family and fans in Asheville and WNC, while making a positive impact on the community....