Lil Rhody is the Ocean State, but it’s not all stuffies, clams cakes and fish. If you turn from the shoreline and go inland, away from the city and suburbs, RI has rich forests and plentiful game. Enter the food truck Open Season. It prepares traditional American food with wild game and locally sourced meats and produce.
“We try to make alt-protein as approachable as possible,” says owner and chef Dave Livesey. “Instead of pork, we’ll use wild boar. Instead of beef, we’ll use venison.” We talked while sitting in Open Season’s commissary and office in Apponaug. It’s a small space; here they prepare the food that will go in the truck.
Livesey has been working in food service since he was a teenager, starting as a dishwasher and working his way up. He ran a catering business his senior year of high school, and afterward attended culinary school at Newbury College. He later managed a few Uno’s restaurants and Snookers, and called that experience his “culinary grad school.”
Dave grew up appreciating the great outdoors, hunting and fishing. “I want people to know that Rhode Island isn’t only just seafood. We have a lot of game native to the area and beautiful forests,” says Dave. He wants people to know there are more options than just picking up meat in plastic in Stop and Shop. “If you want a good cut of meat, go to a local farmer. Most people don’t know they can buy more than just produce from them.” For Dave, it’s all about supporting local businesses as much as possible.
Open Season has 18 menu items, eight or nine of which make it onto the truck on any given day, depending on the season and the availability of the ingredients. They have venison chili, a bison burger and a hot dog made from elk. For the non-meat eater they have fish tacos and a veggie burger called the lousy hunter. There’s even that kid-menu staple, mac and cheese.
Summer ‘17 marks Open Season’s second season as a food truck. There’s not a lot of street service, but they try to hit every food truck event and festival around. Open Season attends the downtown flea in PVD and Food Truck Friday, among other events. This year they’ll be at the Fourth of July Celebration at India Point Park. They also participate in competitions. The week of our interview, Dave and his crew were in the middle of making 80 gallons of chowder for the Newport Chowder Cookoff. They took second place in 2016 and in 2017 were crowned the World Champions by taking the #1 spot.
Open Season is run by Dave and his staff of three full-time employees. During busy times, such as preparing for the Cookoff, they’ll bring in part-timers to help with the workload. Open Season is not just a food truck. It doubles as a catering business. The menu is a lot more varied, as they’ll have more time to prepare. They’ll do between 20 and 30 weddings throughout the year, and a lot of backyard BBQs. Their busy season ends around November, but Open Season serves and caters all year long.
Open Season recently took home Best Overall Food Truck in Motif’s 2017 Food Truck Awards. Dave was honored and humbled to have won, saying, “I want to thank all our fans, family and friends who helped make this possible! I’d also like to thank the entire food truck community for supporting us from the start. And lastly, I’d like to that the best staff on the planet for their endless amounts of hard work.”
You can find Open Season at any of the Food truck events across the state during the summer. If you’re interested to have them cater your next event, you can contact open season at email@example.com.
To see the current locations of local food trucks, visit motifri.com/food-truck-locator, brought to you by FoodTrucksIn RI (foodtrucksin.com), a Providence-based company allowing users to find local food trucks or food trucks in over 1,300 cities nationwide.