Food truckin’ with gerald

Mr. Cookman's serves New Orleans-style barbecue

2014-06-26T00:00:00Z 2014-06-26T09:36:51Z Mr. Cookman's serves New Orleans-style barbecueBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Jonathan Hebert is a very busy man these days.

When he isn’t jetting from meeting to meeting as an engineer in the defense industry, the Tucson resident is serving a mix of New Orleans barbecue, seafood and soul food as owner of Mr. Cookman’s, a new addition to Tucson’s growing food truck scene.

Hebert launched Mr. Cookman’s in February. A New Orleans native, he began barbecuing at an early age.

“You burn a lot of food when you are first starting out,” Hebert said. “But the engineer in me is always looking for perfection, how you can be the best in terms of design.”

He spent years honing his recipes, using his friends and family as guinea pigs in his quest to create the best.

Word eventually got around that his food was good. Damn good.

Hebert — who has lived in the Old Pueblo since 2007 — found himself catering different events: church functions, going-away parties for co-workers.

The lure of a food truck was born from his desire to serve more than just friends and friends of friends.

“I got to see the power of word-of-mouth marketing,” Hebert said. “I thought a food truck would be good exposure.”

His first gig with Mr. Cookman’s was at Tap & Bottle the weekend after Valentine’s Day.

“I will always be thankful to (Tap & Bottle owner) Rebecca (Safford) for allowing me to get my start over there,” he said.

Tap & Bottle, 403 N. Sixth Ave., is still a regular stop on Mr. Cookman’s rotation, as is the Dragoon Brewing Company on West Grant Road, Borderlands Brewing Co. downtown, and the Bear Track Winery on East Sunrise Drive.

Hebert only runs Mr. Cookman’s on the weekends, so it doesn’t interfere with his day job. His goal is to find a reliable staff who can help him run it during the week.

He isn’t ready to take on the food truck business full-time yet.

“I love to barbecue,” he said. “But my passion for engineering is stronger for right now.”

See what Mr. Cookman’s is up to this week at facebook.com/mrcookmans online.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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