Matthew 25:35 (NIV): For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…
I love this verse. It speaks to my heart in a way that motivates me to do better. Most, if not all of us have fed someone hungry or given a beverage to someone who was thirsty. Many of us have done so for a stranger. But how many of us have invited a stranger “in” to do so? I would like to say that I have, but I cannot. I have fed strangers, brought things to people in need and volunteered my time, but this verse reminds me to keep my heart alert and a seat at the table available, just in case the Lord sends someone to sit there.
Tony Quintero of San Luis Obispo’s Taqueria 805 food truck is doing just that. I knew I needed to meet him when I saw Matthew 25:35 posted on his website and Instagram page. It was further affirmed when I noticed one of his Instagram posts offering free burritos one night to anyone who was hungry.
“You can even come pick one up for someone on the street who is in need.”
Generous *and* trusting. I like that.
He was practicing what he preached, and we wanted to know more. Art and I reached out to him, asking if he would be interested in sharing the story of his business for our website. He agreed quickly, and we to had giggle that our first restaurant “Supper Story” would be the story of a Taco Truck. Anyone who knows us understands how perfect that is. Tacos are our thing. Big time. God is so funny sometimes. We set a date, saved our appetites, packed up a big batch of my chile pequin salt (I hate to go anywhere empty handed), and off we went.
We met up with Tony while he was serving up tacos at a local brewery. He was friendly, professional and very, very upbeat about what he’s doing. His enthusiasm is contagious.
When I asked him what I should order, his Al Pastor tacos were the first thing he mentioned. Pork, marinated in spices, fruit juice (such as pineapple or orange), and "achiote" or annatto paste. The achiote gives Al Pastor it's signature vibrant red color and adds a nutty flavor that nothing else can duplicate. We both love Al Pastor tacos and I was excited to see someone taking the time to do them right. Tony was visibly excited about them too, which of course means I *had* to have some! When they arrived, I took one bite and told the hubs, “This tells his story.”
That’s the goal when your love language is food.
Tony joins us not long after we begin eating and immediately jumps into the story of his journey up to this point.
Tony was raised by restaurant owners, known for their traditional barbacoa tacos. We’re talking real barbacoa, Hidalgo style. 400 pounds of lamb, deep pitted on metal racks above a huge pot of broth, and topped with agave leaves before cooking in the ground all night.
He had hubby and I at “Hidalgo.”
His father simultaneously owned and operated the restaurant, a marble and granite company *and* a Taco Truck. Tony worked in the Taco Truck on the weekends as a high school student, balancing late night shifts and his education. He apparently balanced quite well, (he had clearly been taught how to juggle multiple projects by example) as he was accepted into Cal Poly University, where he studied Construction Management.
Tony would head home when he could while he was in school, always returning back to campus with care packages of food from his Mom. He tells me about the large quantities of meats, tamales and salsas his mother would send with him and as a mother, I had to smile. We always want to be sure our babies are fed, don’t we? I imagined myself doing the same thing for my kids one day.
He goes on to say that he had “way more” food than he could eat ("I couldn't possibly eat it all myself!") prompting him to feed his friends. He loved feeding a crowd, combining different flavors and sharing the love.
He sort of lights up as he talks about feeding people.
“I just fell in love with it”, he tells us.
I relate. I understand. Ministry has a way of illuminating a person.
This new-found passion prompted him to open his own Food Truck. The city liked his idea too, and it came together quickly.
“It was so easy. It was all God”, he tells us. “It was like driving on a highway, with no one else on it, you know?” I loved his imagery. God truly makes a way when we’re seeking Him.
And Tony is.
He loves the Lord, loves what he is doing, and loves that he has the opportunity to minister to others *and* feed them at the same time. God is blessing his obedience and desire to serve and it is a beautiful thing to hear about and a witness. The food speaks for itself and is truly proof that Tony loves what he has been called to. We tasted a little bit of everything and you really can’t go wrong with his menu.
We wrapped up our meal of tacos, a giant quesadilla and some yummy guacamole and were discussing his church when Tony’s phone went off. He looks down at his texts, smiles and says, “No way! You guys, my mom is here.”
She had come into town to help Tony with Atascadero’s tamale festival and the excitement in his eyes was heart warming and refreshing. Art and I were both touched by his family’s involvement, support and by his enthusiasm to have her there.
He introduced us to his mom and we promptly said our goodbye's and headed home so they could get to work prepping for a catering event the next day, where they would be feeding 1500 people.
It was an event Tony hadn’t done much advertising or promoting to get.
It was clearly an event God had lined up for him.
Everyone loves an open highway, amen?
We started this meal as strangers, but Tony invited us in. He gave us something to eat and drink, told his story and gave Jesus all the glory. He is walking the walk, talking the talk and feeding the multitude more than tacos. He is offering people his testimony, sharing the blessing his parents planted in him and serving as an example of faith, determination and creativity to his generation.
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