Show on the Road

Literally putting the pedal to the metal, ’80s rockers Billy Morris and Todd Chaisson rolled into the Cleveland food scene with their Smokin’ Rock n’ Roll food truck. With the same hard-driving passion they have for music, Morris and Chaisson are serving up a high-volume food experience mixing entertainment and food truck fare.

Growing up in Northeast Ohio in a musical family, guitarist Morris is a local legend. His parents are musicians, and he began performing at age 6. In the 2000s, he toured nationally as lead guitarist for the famed, platinum-selling band Warrant. While in California, Morris met bass guitarist Chaisson, co-founder of metal band Tuff. The two bonded over heavy metal and a love of good food. They hatched a plan for a future food truck enterprise.

“On tour and tired of eating deli food and pizza, both of us found we had a true passion for cooking and could really kick it in the kitchen,” Chaisson says. “While I trained as a professional chef, Billy stayed true to his roots and moved back to Cleveland to open a bar and grill along with starting the Billy Morris and the Sunset Strip Band.”

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When Chaisson relocated to the Cleveland area six years ago, they decided it was time to tour again, but in a gourmet food truck that features a smoked meat sandwich menu served with a rock-and-roll vibe.

“Our goal is a full-on, unique dining experience from quality food and impeccable presentation of rock-and-roll entertainment,” Chaisson says. “We carefully developed our own recipes, techniques, rubs and sauces. Our slow-cook process takes from 12–19 hours, depending on the cut of meat. During the food truck season, we smoke thousands of pounds of premium brisket, pork, chicken, bacon, and sausages.”

The rock-and-roll-themed sandwich menu includes the Judas Beef, smoked beef brisket sliders with honey red cabbage, horseradish aioli and peppered pickles; The Boss, slow-smoked brisket on a roll with sautéed mushrooms and onions, creamy ale cheese, and fresh scallions; and Master of Piglets, a pulled pork sandwich on a bun with coleslaw, crispy onions, and scallions. There also is a Fleetwood Mac & Cheese entrée with smoked Gouda and a smoked peach, an arugula salad with goat cheese, and gluten-free choices.

Two new trucks are set to cruise the streets of Northeast Ohio this summer—the Smokin’ Rock n’ Roll Mac Truck, with a build-your-own-mac bar featuring smoked meats, veggies, and sauces, and the Smokin’ Rock n’ Roll on Ice trailer, which features a customizable ice cream sandwich bar. Riffs on adult beverages include a Moscow Mule-flavored sorbet, and a maple-smoked bacon Bourbon-flavored ice cream fusion.

The pair are dedicated to making Northeast Ohio’s food truck scene rock, indeed. Last year, Morris and Chaisson co-founded the Northeast Ohio Food Truck Association, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization. “The food truck community is a true collaboration,” Chaisson says. “We share ideas, new concepts, and provide backup for each other when we are overbooked. There is enough meat on the bone for everyone to be successful.”

Learn more about Smokin’ Rock n’ Roll.