Home » Jersey Shore’s Newest Food Truck: Flora Vegetarian

Jersey Shore’s Newest Food Truck: Flora Vegetarian

by Sarah Griesbach
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John Connolly and Leslie Hatfield are the husband and wife team behind Flora Vegetarian, a vegan food truck serving up classic street food — like porc roll, cheezstāk, banh mi, and tacos — that meat eaters can’t believe aren’t meat. Their irresistible street fare is building fans who watch the Flora socials for news of where they’re headed next. Read on to learn more about this hot new Asbury Park food truck.

About John and Leslie

sarah g photo credit flora veg food truck

John Connolly and Leslie Hatfield are living a dream with their Flora Vegetarian food truck. Leslie has enjoyed the delights of John’s food genius for all of their years together. She is happy to share the pleasure. She says that making delicious food is John’s love language. John finds that deconstructing traditional dishes and experimenting to find his own delectable versions is a creative expression. An artist by education, he says he’s moved from paintings and prints to satisfying food. He loves to eat delicious food and cooks what he likes knowing that his customers are more likely than not to feel the same appreciation for his well-tuned taste combinations. That joy in bringing others’ eating pleasure is made evident in the moment after he makes the claim by his push for their lone staff member Adrienne Space West to bring home a takeout container of the delectable Japchae glass noodle dish that they’ve been preparing together. 

sarah g photo credit flora veg food truck

John and Leslie have a deep background in the restaurant industry as well as in food-focused nonprofits and philanthropy. They were propelled to start this new business together by a commitment to bringing their favorite dishes to people who are looking for traditional food truck fare but are up for trying the healthier, more ethical versions that John has developed through years of entertaining in his own home kitchen. Along with providing John a way to share his unquestionable gift, the food truck gives the couple an opportunity to make vegan food accessible and exciting for people who love the meaty street food they grew up with. Their favorite moments come in pleasing customers who aren’t typically thrilled to try plant-based foods. 

Read More: The Best BYOB Restaurants in Asbury Park, New Jersey

Behind the Scenes

The couple started cooking up this adventure in January of 2023. Their former Fed-Ex Truck was made perfectly ready for them the following August. They acquired the certifications needed to power up their new business and took off. Choosing the Asbury Park Food Collective as headquarters for their truck and as their prep kitchen has meant joining a supportive entrepreneurial community. The shared facility gives them access to top-notch commercial kitchen equipment to prepare and store their sumptuous treats. They prep a lot of food and the experimentation with new sauces and possible menu add-ons is a constant. The Collective also provides John with fellow chefs whose well-developed palates make them the perfect audience to taste and critique John’s many masterpieces. 

sarah g photo credit flora veg food truck

John and Leslie source their ingredients with care, and from local farmers when in season, pulling ingredients like fresh sage & rosemary from their home garden. They’ve included several gluten-free options on the menu and are equally deliberate with packaging choices. The takeaway containers and utensils are compostable and the  beverage options all come in recyclable cans. Every detail has been considered and that really shows up in the food. Perfectly balanced marinades, fresh veg finishes topping a take-away plate, and John’s incredible secret sauces (the jalapeno aioli!) make each modestly served meal a marvel of fine dining. 

See More: Vegan-Friendly Food Spots in Jersey City

Flora Vegetarian dishes up delights at festivals, fairs, and breweries during the spring, summer, and fall. They drove north for the Bayonne Food Truck and Music Festival in May and headed east to hit the Tulip Festival at Holland Ridge Farms in April. Being mobile gives them a range of opportunities they’re just starting to explore. The cold months offer another opportunity they discovered over the holidays while first getting their food truck footing. Encouraged by friends, they developed a holiday menu for catering.  Thanksgiving-themed dishes were debuted during a tasting event at Forge Boutique store in Red Bank. Their bird-less stuffing and balsamic hazelnut brussel sprouts were instant crowd-pleasers. Among their winter catering successes, a pumpkin spice bread pudding topped with crème anglaise has customers longing for next November to roll around.

Flora Vegetarian is also available for special catered events around weddings and all kinds of parties. Stay tuned to their Instagram @floravegetarian to see where they’ll be next!

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