Thomas Lubinski calls himself a wandering chef, and he's bringing a taste of cuisines from around the world to his new food truck in downtown Madras.
"People can experience food that I can show off from my wandering travels around the world," says Lubinski, who opened The Wandering Chef on July 11. "I've had a lot of teachers in different parts of the world, so I can make almost anything."
Situated in Hideaway Alley between OK Barbershop and Madras Pub and Deli on Southwest Fifth Street, the bright blue food truck offers brunch, sandwiches, small plates and beverages, as well as daily specials.
"We chose five different sandwiches from different parts of the world," Lubinski said. "We do a Cubano, which is your typical Cuban-style sandwich with ham, pulled pork and pickled vegetables."
There's the Asian pulled pork sandwich, a French-style grilled ham and cheese, a classic American burger, and the Mediterranean falafel pita.
The brunch menu includes a breakfast sandwich, the Monte Cristo, French toast, eggs benedict, and a grilled ham, cheese and egg sandwich.
"We want to show Madras that we do breakfast in town that's a little bit different than you can get at the diners," Lubinski said.
Small plate menu items include a pickle plate with grilled bread, beef and swiss cheese melts, and fondue served with roasted vegetables and pita bread.
"The special is from a different part of the world. Maybe I'll do brats from Germany, or I'll do pasta from Italy," Lubinski said. "What we want to do is have people tell us where should we travel next."
Guests have asked for pad Thai and Greek food, and he's up to the challenge.
"I want input from the community to see what they want to have, and I'll try to make it for them to the best of my ability," he said.
The local chef, who was born in Minnesota, attended culinary school at North Dakota State College of Science. After graduating, he took a chef job in Germany. He then worked in fishing lodges in Alaska and Colorado and for a small cruise line.
"We'd travel southeast Alaska, the Columbia River Gorge, Baja, Mexico, or the Panama Canal," Lubinski said. All the while, he was gathering experience and recipes for his future food truck.
He came to Oregon in 2004 and over the years helped open an Italian restaurant, a bar and grill, and a brew pub before settling in Madras in 2017. He most recently worked as a kitchen manager at a saloon and as a fill-in chef.
When Lubinski decided to open a food truck, he named it after himself – a wandering chef.
They searched all over for a truck with just the right features and finally found the perfect one in Portland.
"We have a really cool graphic on the truck," Lubinski said. "We did a big world map with a whole bunch of little characters for all the different parts of the world. We even have a white buffalo for Madras."
He said the current pandemic is challenging for restaurants, but food trucks seem the way to go.
"This way, I can do it by myself," he said. "I've worked in restaurants for so long that it's nice for me. I don't have a large staff working for me. I can make the food that I want to make."
He gets most of his food from local grocery stores, farmers markets and Oregon Beef Co.
The Wandering Chef is pretty much a one-man show at this point, other than some help from his wife. They're working on plans to serve alcohol and offer catering services.
In starting his eatery, which is open every day except Monday, Lubinski said he wants to help Madras be more than just a highway rest stop.
"We want to show off that Madras has more options," he said.
The Wandering Chef
Owner: Thomas Lubinski
Address: 130 SW Fifth St., Madras
Order online: gowanderingchef.com
Facebook: Wandering Chef Oregon
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.