Hot Buns Food Truck—a name based on a favorite song of co-owner Emil David—provided a means to the end of moving back to wife Liz’s home state of Kentucky. Chef Space–Community Ventures’ innovative kitchen incubator program–provided the method.
The couple met in New York City where, following 10 years of chef training in Italy, Philippine-born Emil was sous chef at Giorgio Armani Ristorante and Liz was managing a restaurant for Bobby Flay after selling her ownership stake in a Lexington eatery. Eventually, Emil took a corporate job opening restaurants but the constant travel took its toll, prompting the couple to achieve their own culinary dreams closer to home. Asian-inspired Hot Buns serves steamed buns and rice bowls featuring chicken, pork, beef or mushrooms with dumplings on the side.
The pair returned to Lexington, but quickly decided Louisville was the better place to launch their business. Liz’s online search for a commissary kitchen from which to work pulled up Chef Space. She picked up the phone and Tom Murro, President of Chef Space answered her call, scheduling a meeting for that very day.
“Working with Tom was great, and everyone at Chef Space was super friendly and responsive,” said Liz. “We did the monthly membership where you get work space, a dry storage rack and space in both the walk-in refrigerator and freezer. We were able to use any of the equipment that they had, and Tom was great about introducing us to many new opportunities for our truck.”
The Davids operated Hot Buns out of Chef Space for a total of two years, and initially utilized the incubator’s food truck parking area as well. The couple has now turned over daily operation of the successful food truck to a team of employees, and in October of 2021 Emil opened Square Cut—a brick and mortar Roman-inspired ‘open kitchen restaurant featuring seasonal ingredients with an Italian flair’ in the Shelby Park area of Louisville. To utilize every inch of real estate, the entrepreneur turned a garage area behind Square Cut into an ice cream shop called Sugar Room. But the truck that started it all?
“We have over 4700 followers on Instagram now, and we post the Hot Buns schedule there and on Facebook every week,” Liz explained. “And we take Hot Buns to Lexington for our favorite events like Woodland Art Fair and Railbird.”
To learn more about Chef Space, or to find out how Chef Space can help you achieve your culinary dreams, visit www.chefspace.org today.