Made with fresh bananas and real cream, the banana pudding from Nana Queen's truck (Twitter: @nanaqueens) has all the virtues of home-cooking -- plus a wallop of gourmet originality. "This is not like grandma's pudding," says owner and self-taught pudding queen Janel Prator, 30. "This is a totally different recipe. This is new school."
Nana Queen's, which soft-launches next Tuesday, March 9th, will serve four basic puddings: O.G. Nana (classic banana pudding), StrawNana (with strawberries), Nana Oh's (with blonde Oreos) and Car Nana (with caramel). Look for special puddings made with ginger snaps, Nutter Butters, chessmen cookies and even sweet potatoes.
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With the heavy focus on dessert, it's easy to forget that Nana Queen's is actually a pudding and wings truck. The wings, served in 5 or 10-piece combos, will come in six flavors: hot, mild, lemon pepper, green onion ranch, barbecue and teriyaki. Sides will include regular fries, lemon pepper fries, green onion ranch fries, baked beans and macaroni salad. (Prices have yet to be determined.)
Still, it's the pudding that's front-and-center on this truck, as everything from the truck's logo to Prator's yellow converse sneakers suggest. Prator, who spent 9.5 years climbing telephone poles as a maintenance splicer for AT&T, started experimenting with banana pudding to impress her co-workers. That led to a bakesale business. Eventually, a handful of local restaurants began selling her pudding: the three Phillips Barbecue locations, Uncle Darrow's in Marina Del Rey and #1 Fish Market in Long Beach. Six months ago, Prator left her AT&T job to pursue the Nana Queens dream full-time. Fortunately, she'll have plenty of help from her big sister, Shanel, 33, who will be cooking and working on the truck.
Prator will be the first one to tell you that a few years ago she wouldn't have imagined herself as a food entrepreneur. After giving birth to a daughter at age 16, she made her way to a Work Source program. That, in turn, led her to maintenance splicing, which she calls "a very good job." She's hoping the gamble pays off. She's also hoping to pay her success forward by hiring recent Work Source attendees to staff the truck. "We're the biggest example of stepping out on faith and following your dreams," Prator says.
In other news, two more Road Stoves trucks will soon be expanding. The Grilled Cheese Truck will roll out a second truck, possibly as early as next week. And Baby's Badass Burgers plans to launch a second truck in April.