Walking up to chef Michael Large’s food trailer at Payette Brewing Co., customers sometimes connect him with $75 steaks and white-linen tablecloths.
“They’re like, ‘You’re the chef at Chandlers!’” he says. “‘This is your new venture?’”
It is. But Queens Trailer is not Chandlers.
“I’m not going to be doing scallops and Wagyu,” Large says.
Maybe not. But since debuting his menu a few weeks ago, Large, 35, has elevated Payette’s food. His new trailer is parked full time in the beer garden at 733 S. Pioneer St. Open from noon to 10 p.m. seven days a week, it’s manned by Large and partners Chris Buhler (former executive sous chef at Chandlers) and Joel Dixon.
For Payette, the collaboration is a way to offer consistent, upscale taproom cuisine. One of Idaho’s largest breweries, Payette does not have an in-house kitchen.
For Large? It’s a chance to work for himself. A graduate of Kitchen Academy in Los Angeles, he’s cooked in California, Texas and Louisiana. He moved his family from California to Idaho “just for a better life,” he says.
Until Large left Chandlers at the end of 2021, he was the executive chef at what is widely regarded as Boise’s premier fine-dining steakhouse. He ran the kitchen for about two years. “I had a really good experience working there,” he says. “The kind of food they get in, and flying it in from all over the world, is pretty crazy.”
Queens occasionally is a little nuts, too — for trailer grub. The focus, Large says, is balanced flavors and executing dishes from scratch as much as realistically possible.
The Pork Banh Mi slider ($8) — smoked pork belly, pickled jalapeno, pickled carrots, cilantro and sambal aioli — is a “labor of love,” he says. “It’s like a 2 1/2 day process to get that smoky, fatty goodness.”
“It’s been flying,” he adds. “We’re having trouble keeping it on … .”
Even more popular? The spicy Nashville Hot Chicken ($8 slider, $14 Big). “We’re doing the whole process and actually making it like an authentic Nashville chicken,” Large explains.
Prefer to eat your veggies? But with addictive, smoked pork belly niblets mixed in? The Fried Brussels ($8) are “crazy selling,” Large says. “People are like, ‘Dude, those are just money. They’re like crack.’ ”
Foxy Franks, a familiar hot dog option at Payette, will continue serving in the back of the taproom on Fridays. The brewery also plans to welcome occasional guest food trucks to join Queens Trailer.
“I feel the more, the merrier,” Large says. “I think it’s just going to draw more people.”
Soon — if not by the time you read this — Queens will implement a QR code system in the taproom. It will allow customers to order using their phones. When food is ready, they’ll get pinged with a text.
“That way, you kind of skip the food truck,” Large says.
Skip? The? Truck? It’s hard to imagine famished Payette customers ever wanting to do that.
Despite his highfalutin recent employment background, Large appears to understand his new audience: hungry beer guzzlers. That’s why Queens is what it is: ambitious, but not crazy-spendy ambitious.
“If I had to describe it, I’d say fair-priced, good food,” Large says. “I know that it’s hard to go to a food trailer or food truck and not spend a lot of money. I like to serve a lot of people. Kind of like the taco mentality, or even the In-N-Out model.
“Quality and quantity food over the expense.”
This story was originally published March 3, 2022 4:00 AM.