When the pandemic forced Embassy Suites by Hilton in Hampton to furlough Kyle Fowlkes, the executive chef put pedal to the metal (and medals, given all he’s racked up in competitions) with Saté, The Roaming New American Kitchen, a catchy, cherry red food truck featuring his inspired chef-driven menu.
“It’s my style of cooking with a lot of Asian influences,” he shares. “I decided to stick with what I know.” Pun intended? Likely, since Saté is grilled meat on a skewer and Fowlkes has an ebullient, fun-loving nature, clearly on display for customers at stops at Newport News Shipbuilding, breweries and other Peninsula spots.
He offers a skewer du jour (or saté of the day, poetic either way) such as beef tataki, bacon-wrapped scallops or crispy pork belly, switching up sauces (maybe a soy glaze or mango pico de gallo) and sides (lobster risotto, say, or sweet potato mash).
“But this is the South,” he adds. “And you’ve got to give people what they want.” Hence shrimp and grits, hot honey chicken and top-selling mac ‘n’ cheese, a delicious collision of both influences.
The caliber of Fowlkes’ cooking astonishes his regulars at the shipyard, even at breakfast (peach cobbler oatmeal, cinnamon crunch French toast with vanilla mascarpone and homemade blueberry syrup). They’ll wait in line 40-deep, slapping Saté stickers on their hard hats like cult band groupies.
With demand accelerating, Fowlkes envisions a second truck. Assuming, of course, there’s time between trucking and catering arts organizations’ events, weddings and rehearsal dinners, part of his wheelhouse after 15 years of experience feeding thousands at the Hampton Roads Convention Center adjacent to the Embassy Suites. Ultimately, he hopes all roads lead to a brick-and-mortar where, someday, Saté can be here to stay.