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Hometown Eats: Island Wheels in Alleghany and Roanoke valleys

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 7:46 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - All this heat and the humidity wouldn’t be so bad if, say, we were on a beach in the Caribbean, right?

However, most people probably won’t be traveling to paradise anytime soon, so instead, the Island Wheels food truck is bringing paradise to you.

“I take the island flavors, but put it to American cuisine knowledge, and it’s been working out amazing for me,” Eric Vasson, the chef and owner of Island Wheels, said. “I didn’t expect it to take off like it did.”

Since he opened in November, thousands of people have enjoyed his unique flavor combinations.

“Once people heard Caribbean food and they saw it, it blew up,” Vasson said.

Which means WDBJ7′s Katey Roshetko was all to ready to try it for herself.

“Let’s get cooking!” she said, following Vasson into the kitchen.

Vasson didn’t hold back when it came to giving us the hookup: pizzas, sandwiches and desserts! He started with some fresh cut rib-eye for his rib-eye cheesesteak sandwich and pizza.

“Got a whole rib-eye here,” Vasson said as he turned on the meat slicer. “Gonna slice that thin.”

Then he chopped it up on the grill and cut fresh potato into fries.

“We don’t do store-bought. We just cut them to order,” Vasson said.

After the fries are cooked in the corn oil and the beer-battered red snapper fillet is sizzling, it was time to start assembling the sandwiches.

“I do an aged cheddar for the rib-eye first,” he said. “Put our meat on there.”

Then he drizzled two types of cheese sauces.

“I’m not from Philly, but I can say I might make a better cheesesteak than them,” he said.

“Oh, those are fightin’ words!” Roshetko challenged.

“I like to start wars in the kitchen,” Vasson laughed as he put the fries on the sandwich. “Now we have our secret spice right here.”

The cheesesteak and red snapper sandwiches wouldn’t be complete without a signature touch.

“It’s not from me unless you brand it,” he said burning a large I-W in the bread.

Now it’s time to make the pizzas on homemade flatbread. First up, jerk chicken pizza, which included secret sauce, fresh greens and, of course, the meat.

“It’s already heated up,” he said about the chicken. “We shred it.”

“Oh, that’s just peeling right off the bone,” Roshetko said.

“Then we got pineapples,” Vasson said.

Move over, Hawaiian pizza, Caribbean pizza is in the house!

Chef also took the ingredients from his cheesesteak sandwich and turned it into a pizza. Then he plated a hearty serving of mac and cheese with some jerk chicken - enough food to feed a crowd.

And we knew just the group!

“Are you guys hungry?” Roshetko shouted as members of WDBJ7 came outside.

“What do you think?” Roshetko asked WDBJ7 anchor Kimberly McBroom, after she ate a big bite of the rib-eye cheesesteak pizza.

“Mmm-Mmm,” she said, her mouth still full of food.

“One down, many more to go,” Roshetko laughed. “Kimberly, final thoughts on Island Wheels?”

“I love it. Meat, sauce, cheese,” McBroom said. “I spotted cheesecake down there. I’m going to try that next.”

Not even five minutes later, McBroom was running off with the plate of dessert.

“Kim! Bring back the cheesecake! Bring it back!” Roshetko laughed.

Then is was WDBJ7 Mornin’ anchor Daniel Grimes’ turn.

“All right, Daniel. I know you’ve had your eyes on this one,” Roshetko said handing him the rib-eye cheesesteak sandwich. “Why don’t you go ahead and grab it?”

“Ahommm!” Grimes took a giant bite. “Mmmm.”

“Mmm-mmm?” Roshetko said trying to interrupt Grimes’ expression. “I think that’s good.”

“There’s a kick,” Grimes said.

“All right, we’ve tried a bunch of these already, but it’s time for the red snapper sandwich,” Roshetko said. “Brandi, you claimed this one.”

WDBJ7 Mornin’ producer Brandi Hutchinson tried a bite.

“What do you think?” Roshetko asked.

“Oh, it’s so good,” Hutchinson said.

“Okay, now the question is, is this something you’d order again?” Roshetko said.

“Oh, absolutely!” Hutchinson said

“Producer Bri [Leach] has chosen the jerk chicken mac and cheese,” Roshetko said. “You ready to dive into this?”

“I’m so excited. I’m such a fan of sauce,” Breach took a bite. “I love it. And since everyone else kept their dishes, I think I’m going to keep this one too.”

“You want to keep this one too?” Roshetko said. “Man, before we know it, we’re going to run out of food and I’m not going to try any of it. Okay... onto the next one!”

Roshetko grabbed the next dish.

“We’ve tried a lot of dishes so far, but everyone has stayed away from the ox tail,” she said. “No idea why. But our good man, Editor Mike [Episcopo] over here, is taking the plunge and trying ox tail. Have you had this before?”

“Yes, and this is what jumped out on the menu to me,” he said and took a bite of the ox tail and fries. “Oh my goodness. People stay away from it because they think it’s a tough cut of meat, and it can be, but this is cooked so perfectly.”

He pointed to his plate.

“That’s the meat I just peeled right off the bone,” Episcopo said.

“Now the question is, am I going to be able to try any of this? Or are you stealing all this for yourself?” Roshetko asked.

“No, I’m running away with this. This is mine,” he laughed.

“All right, five dishes down and I still haven’t had a bite to eat. It’s fine,” Roshetko walked out of the frame, pretending to be defeated.

“Just kidding!” Roshetko jumped back. “There was one more left that I get to try. The jerk chicken pizza. Doesn’t that look amazing?”

She took a big bite to make sure a little bit of everything was on there.

“Ahh! Yes! So much yes!” She said. “Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had a flavor combination like this before.”

Just don’t forget to order dessert! Island Wheels makes fresh crème brûlée cheesecake and a chocolate mousse pie.

“And nothing goes better with dessert than sharing it among your friends!” Roshetko said. “Dive in, guys!”

And that’s exactly what they did!

Island Wheels travels to all parts of the Alleghany and Roanoke valleys. To find out where they’ll be and when, just go to their Facebook page to see the latest schedules. They also cater.

Now not everything that WDBJ7 shoots makes it on air. So here’s a web exclusive of Katey Roshetko trying a fresh coconut for the first time.

Copyright 2021 WDBJ. All rights reserved.