By Nancy R. Elliott The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — MUNCIE – Trendy and tasty. Colorful street art and a funky, eclectic menu trademark one of the latest arrivals on Anderson’s food scene. Muncie-based Slop on Top recently rolled into town, tapping into the popular cultural trend of food trucks. Owner/entrepreneur Robert Mattax’s vision for the Slop on Top menu is pretty simple: “a heap of rice, covered with a tasty concoction, served to you at a price that will make you feel happy.”
The concoction part of the recipe is any one of about 16 international and vegetarian menu options that include Creole/Cajun, Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Ethiopian and Indian/Pakistani offerings.
“Every culture around the world has some sort of dish served over rice,” said Erik Hinds, chef and manager at Slop on Top. Hinds said they also take favorites, like pizza, and “sloppify’ them. In fact, the Slop on Top Super Supreme is just that. Hinds describes it as “like a supreme pizza in the form of like a chili over white rice.”
On any given lunchtime food truck stop, Slop on Top offers three of their selections. At least one of those options will be vegetarian, if not vegan. The menu options are also mostly gluten-free. The rice and international “slop” also come with garlic bread.
Although most dishes are served atop a bed of rice, nacho style chips are also available and more suitable, perhaps, for several of the selections. Taking an environmentally conscious approach, Slop on Top is served up in compostable food containers, with wooden spoons.
Last week, the colorful Slop on Top truck was in downtown Anderson for its second appearance at Food Truckin’ Thursday. Despite the chilly day, the food trucks had customers.
“Every time we come out here, we always do good,” said Hinds.
The offerings last week included Super Supreme, Coconut Beef Curry (beef and onions cooked in a spicy curry and coconut sauce) and vegetarian Chicks and Flowers (cauliflower and chickpeas seasoned with garlic, onions and mild spices). The price tag for each dish, with garlic bread, was $6.
Slop on Top is Mattax’s brainchild. The tech savvy entrepreneur earned his master’s degree in computer science in 2003 from Ball State University. He founded his Indianapolis software development firm, Foxio, in 2012, at about the same time he began to explore making Slop on Top a reality.
“I’ve been blessed with many talents,” said Mattax, 35. “I’m not what anyone would call a traditional guy.”
About two years ago, Mattax acquired the truck that would become Slop on Top, digging into savings to do it. He eventually incorporated a little crowdfunding via Indiegogo, building both awareness and clientele in the process.
“I built it all myself,” Mattax said. He outfitted the truck with gas cooking equipment, fridges, generator, storage and more. Finally, Mattax hired Indianapolis-based muralists Fabcrew to work a little of their graffiti-style street art magic on the truck. All the while, Mattax was trying out recipes, and inviting friends to beta test his creations.
“I love to cook, every recipe is my own creation,” said Mattax. “It’s a real adventure for me.”
In March, Slop on Top rolled for the first time, opening up the serving window at a likely spot near Ball State University in Muncie. It was the city’s first food truck.
“Every day, more and more people hear about it,” said Mattax.
Mattax brought Hinds on board to handle the day-to-day operation of Slop on Top. Hinds has worked in the restaurant industry for years, much of it in the Chicago area.
Slop on Top is still rolling while the weather holds. It’s easiest to spot during lunch hours in Muncie near the BSU campus, but it’s no stranger to Anderson now on Food Truckin’ Thursdays. As the weather gets cooler and cooler with winter’s approach, Hinds said they’ll be focusing more on catering and serving local businesses.
“I’m pretty fond of Indiana. I just really want us to be better,” said Mattax. “I feel like this is me trying to help culture us up... I’d really love to see this continue.”
Stay up to speed on Slop on Top’s lunchtime locations via Facebook. The www.slopontop.com website includes menu items. For more information, contact Slop on Top at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 228-2042 or check the Facebook page.
Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.