WINTER HARBOR — One of the first things visitors stepping off the ferries encounter at the Schoodic Marine Center is The Hot Box Mobile Kitchen. A culinary surprise awaits them at the head of the ramp.
“Around here it’s mostly seafood and burgers,” says Travis Bisson, who runs The Hot Box with his brother Alec. “We both wanted to try something a little different for this area.”
The Hot Box offers items such as banh mi-style pork belly with coconut rice, fried polenta cakes, and fried apple empanadas with salted caramel.
The Bissons, originally from Prospect Harbor, have been cooking for most of their lives. Alec has worked at Bunker’s Wharf and The Pickled Wrinkle in Birch Harbor, and Travis worked at the Bar Harbor Inn and Havana in Bar Harbor as well as the Not So Fast food truck in San Diego before returning to Maine and opening up The Hot Box.
“We finally wanted to be our own bosses and cook our own food,” says Alec.
The Hot Box opened early this summer and is drawing plenty of repeat customers. It’s mostly been people from the area, but visitors to Acadia National Park have discovered the food cart too because of its location at the ferry terminal.
“I’m a little surprised,” says Travis. “I didn’t think the reaction would be this good, but everyone around here loves it.”
Despite the exotic menu, all ingredients are sourced locally. Alec says banh mi, a Vietnamese-style sandwich, has been the most popular item so far, and the brothers like to make different kinds of street tacos every week.
“We change up the menu every week, try to change things up,” says Travis.
The Bissons plan to bottle The Hot Box’s passion fruit habanero hot sauce, and the brothers are always considering what to add to the menu next.
“We might put up a poll on Facebook,” says Alec. “Shredded lamb or Thai spring rolls.”
The Hot Box Mobile Kitchen is located at the Schoodic Marine Center at 88 Sargent St. in Winter Harbor. Check the food cart’s Facebook page for hours.