Columbia’s own Ken Leysath, owner Ken’s All Star Cart food truck, beat out a San Francisco food truck to take the grand prize in Thomas’ Breakfast Battle: Food Truck Edition national recipe contest.
The Thomas Breakfast Battle pitted 50 food trucks from 50 cities across the country against each other to find the best breakfast recipe in America. Throughout five weeks of competition, Leysath represented the state of South Carolina with his Pineapple Express sandwich and garnered enough votes each week to move to the next level of competition. The final round came down to Leysath and San Francisco’s The GrilledCheezGuy’s NorCal Nook aka the California Cranny. Leysath garnered the most online votes to be declared the winner and recipient of the grand prize of $25,000.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” says Leysath, “I keep checking the Thomas website to make sure there’s no mistake.”
Leysath’s inspiration for the breakfast sandwich was his love of the taste of fried pineapple. “I thought a chicken burger with jalapeno and fried pineapple would have just enough of a jerk flavor that everybody would like. It was crazy — but you never know,” he says.
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Ken’s All Star Cart’s daily menu contains a selection of seafood platters, chicken and waffles, hot dogs and wings. Leysath says likes to create food with a twist. He has a seafood platter now that has folks driving up from Charleston to eat because of his special white butter sauce — like a hollandaise sauce in thickness, but more garlicky and buttery and is used to finish off the seafood rather than being used as a dip.
Leysath says that he will be using part of the $25,000 grand prize to invest in a brick-and-mortar establishment. He will also be donating $1,500 to his fraternity at Savannah State University, where he graduated with a degree in biology, and put some of the winnings towards his efforts to help feed the homeless in Columbia. “It was something that was instilled in me by my mom and dad,” says Leysath. “Always try and give back to the community.”
Find Leysath’s Pineapple Express recipe at thomasbreakfastbattle.com.