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At Chalkboard Kitchen in Durango, you’ll find something new every time

Food cart keeps cuisine interesting with an ever-changing menu
Holly Benadum and Evan Vitale opened up their new food trailer Chalkboard Kitchen, located behind Anarchy Brewing Co., about four months ago. (Nicholas A. Johnson/Special to the Herald)

With specials being a focus for new food trailer Chalkboard Kitchen, the best way to keep up with its shifting menu may just be falling in as a regular at Anarchy Brewing Co. where it's located.

“Chalkboard has been an idea of ours for several years,” said co-owner Evan Vitale. “The idea behind it is that chalkboards are usually used for specials and we’re constantly rotating new things onto the menu.”

Vitale co-owns Chalkboard with fiancée Holly Benadum. Both Colorado natives, Benadum was raised in Durango and Vitale comes from Denver. Benadum brings 17 years of culinary experience to the food cart, having worked as a chef in restaurants in Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco.

Opening in April, the two have found a home at Anarchy Brewing, located at 225 East Eighth Ave. The nano-brewery’s constant tap rotation lends itself well to Chalkboard's ever-changing menu, allowing Chalkboard to experiment with new brews both in and with their food.

“It’s so symbiotic working with Anarchy,” Benadum said. “The beer is amazing, I make mustard with it, we make a beer cheese sauce sometimes that we use different beers with. It’s fun to have that available to work with.”

Being fun and experimental with food is what Benadum and Vitale said they enjoy most about their new food trailer. The two will find ways to build specials around flavors that come to them, specifically recalling a family that recently brought them a bunch of cherries that made their way into a sandwich on Chalkboard’s menu.

“A family in town gave us a bunch of cherries, and we made a compote out of it and put it on a sandwich. We named the sandwich after them and put it on the menu for a week,” Vitale said. “That’s kind of the idea behind Chalkboard, to keep things fun.”

Although ever changing, the Chalkboard menu does have some staples. According to Benadum and Vitale the french dip and buffalo chicken sandwich, both priced at $13, are two popular menu items.

Chalkboard Kitchen, located behind Anarchy Brewing Co., has a rotating menu with staple treats like shishito peppers and a buffalo chicken sandwich. (Nicholas A. Johnson/Special to the Herald)

Chalkboard’s wings have made waves in the few months that the food trailers have been in business, as Benadum and Vitale are currently in contention for the best wings in Durango through the Best of Durango contest.

The wing recipe that Benadum uses comes from a food truck she worked on in Denver called Rezzy’s. Paying homage to that food truck, Chalkboard has aptly named its wings Rezzy’s wings on the menu.

“Rezzy’s was a food truck that Holly worked on in Denver, and the owner had actually gotten the recipe for his wings from a food truck that he had worked on before that, and that truck had also gotten the recipe from a different truck before that,” Vitale said.

A standout vegetable Chalkboard serves as both an appetizer and in its turkey sandwich is shishito peppers.

For now, Chalkboard is largely just Benadum and Vitale with a part-time employee who helps when she can. Benadum said she aspires to eventually move to a brick and mortar location, but at this point is happily cohabitating with Anarchy.

Holly Benadum tosses a chicken in buffalo sauce while preparing a buffalo chicken sandwich. (Nicholas A. Johnson/Special to the Herald)

Vitale said business has been good since Chalkboard opened, but it isn’t always consistent.

“Yesterday, we were slammed all day, and today things are slower,” he said.

The two said opening Chalkboard has given them the opportunity to meet many of their neighbors, as many of Anarchy’s patrons live in the surrounding neighborhood where they also live.

“We get to be proud of what we’re doing and serve our part of this town,” Vitale said.