Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement is bringing soul to the streets, with a new mobile food trailer helmed by chef-owner Fernay McPherson. McPerson, a cooking school grad, has taken favorite recipes from her Great Aunt Minnie and her Grandmother Lily Bell (who also inspired the name) and added a few twists of her own.
I had a chance to sample some of the menu at food incubator La Cocina, where McPherson’s business is based. Her mom, niece and Aunt Minnie were on hand to help.
“My mom is my right-hand man,” McPherson said.
“Unpaid!” her mom shot back with a laugh.
“I pay her with lots of love,” McPherson retorted.
Aunt Minnie, who claims to be 18 (I suspect she’s reversed the digits of her real age) regaled the group with stories of her favorite dishes, and made sure my husband (aka the Bottomless Pit) didn’t hog the fried chicken wings with smoked molasses barbeque sauce. I couldn’t blame him. The wings were perfectly crispy and all the writers at the tasting immediately suggested that McPherson sell her sauce.
Another favorite of mine was the red beans and rice salad, spiked with smoked paprika. It fit McPherson’s goal of creating a healthier menu. “My soul food is lightened up from the traditional – but it’s just as good!” she exclaimed.
The Western Addition resident has been operating a catering business for the past two years and still drives part-time on the Muni 14L line. But she’s had her eye on cooking all her life – “ever since I started mixing soap suds in a bowl and wearing a little apron when I was a kid,” she said.
In addition to the delicious wings and salad, we sampled a melt-in-your mouth smothered beef tri-tip sandwich; savory shrimp gumbo; collard greens that were really green; and mac and cheese that could have used a bit more seasoning.
Along the way, McPherson and her family regaled us with tales, including the story of her grandmother, who left Texas on a Greyhound bus, carrying fried chicken and sour cream pound cake to fortify her on the journey to San Francisco. McPherson pays tribute by putting those items on her menu. “My passion for cooking is inspired by my family,” she said, giving Aunt Minnie a hug.
If you appreciate good food, cooked by good people, get aboard Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement. The mobile food trailer will soon be dishing up the love at Proxy, the two-block pop-up on Octavia St. in San Francisco, Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 am to 3 pm. McPherson also continues to operate her catering business.
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