By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 31, 2022 at 11:03 AM

Last March, we brought you the news of Trouble Makers Cocina, a concept which knits together locally sourced ingredients, innovative techniques and a varied menu that fuses dishes from across the world with unique Latin-inspired flair.

The concept started off as a restaurant pop-up, hosting monthly dinners at  The Sugar Maple in Bay View. But, in the coming weeks, Trouble Makers Cocina will be rolling out the next phase of its business plan in the form of a snazzy, state-of-the-art food truck.

In fact, if all goes well, the crew would like to celebrate the truck’s grand opening debut on Cinco de Mayo, serving up a menu of the team’s most delicious tacos at the craft beer bar where it all started: The Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave.

Here comes trouble

Behind the Trouble Makers concept are three accomplished industry veterans: Martin Magaña, formerly of Tess; Arnie Gonzales, formerly of Good City Brewing; and Dillon Knight, whose career has included work at spots like Ugly’s Pub and Black Sheep. 

Together, the trio aims to make “good trouble” by using their varied skill sets and great ingredients to create dishes that aren’t constrained by the usual boundaries.

The Trouble Makers Cocina Crew
Dillon Knight, Martin Magana, Arnie Gonzalez (Photo: Trouble Makers Cocina)
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Gonzales says the crew has had a great experience over the past year hosting pop-up dinners and working with a variety of guest chefs including Chef Marita Paz, Ramses Alvarez, Valerie Stafford and Sandor Ciski. 

“It has been such a great experience,” he says. “It’s been a great way for us to decompress and really get our creative juices flowing. We’ve also been able to work with a lot of other chefs. Some we know. But others have seen what we’ve been doing online and reached out to see if they could work with us.” 

As they met with success with the pop-up dinners, they seriously considered looking for a brick and mortar space. But, they decided to opt for the versatility of a food truck.

“We explored our options,” says Knight. “And we decided to use our money to purchase a brand new food truck that would be versatile enough that we could use it to serve tacos at an event or prepare a tenderloin for a wedding.”

And that’s exactly what they got. Last week, Magaña and Gonzales traveled down to Florida to pick up the new Trouble Makers Cocina truck, which is fully decked out with an oven, a six burner stove, a flat-top, a grill, two fryers, a freezer, a cooler, a salad cooler, a sink that pulls hot water, plus a full HVAC system complete with heat and air-conditioning.

“This is the best kitchen on wheels since ‘Breaking Bad,’” Gonzales says with a laugh.

Here comes trouble - food truckX

Unlike other food trucks, the Trouble Makers’ truck won’t focus on parking on a specific street. Instead, the truck will be used to serve food at local events and festivals, to service catering for weddings and corporate events.

It also won’t have a static food menu. Instead, the menu will morph based on the needs of each event, ensuring that they are always serving up something new and exciting for customers that’s unlike anything else.

“We are aiming to amaze people with the offerings from the truck,” says Magaña, “So our menu will always be changing depending on where we are. And we’ll always be mixing things up with locally sourced produce and flavors inspired by countries like Italy, Asia and Mexico.”

Currently, the truck is slated to appear at the Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg, as well as over 10 appearances with 1840 Brewing Co. as part of the traveling beer garden series.

“We’ll also be working with local breweries like Third Space and Vennture Brew Co. to cater private events,” says Gonzales, noting that working with breweries is a natural fit since their inaugural pop-ups were multi-course craft beer dinners at The Sugar Maple.

Gonzales, Knight and Magaña will also continue to host pop-up dinners at various locations around the Greater Milwaukee area. Upcoming events include a four course beer pairing dinner at 1840 Brewing on April 5 and a five-course dinner at Chef Pam’s Kitchen in Waukesha on May 5. Get details here.

On the menu

To give you a sense of what you might encounter on the truck’s ever-changing menu, here’s a sampling of what they will be serving up during Cedarburg’s Strawberry Festival on June 25-26.

  • Strawberry-mango fruit cups with chamoy (the sweet-sour-salty-spicy sauce featuring dried fruit, chilies, Tajin and hibiscus)
  • Arugula salad with Mexican Pacific Lush shrimp, strawberry-avocado salsa, panela cheese and creamy cilantro vinaigrette.
  • Beef birria taquito rolls: braised birria-style beef wrapped in an eggroll wrapper and served with honey Sriracha crema, cabbage and cilantro;
  • Mexican street corn (elotes)
  • Taco quesadilla: a corn tortilla, melted chihuahua cheese and a choice of beef birria or carnitas
  • Crispy brussels sprouts with strawberries, smoked bacon and white balsamic glaze
  • Mad Mexican grilled cheese: chihuahua cheese, jalapeno jam, arugula, tomato and bacon
  • Big Boy Rice Bowl: basmati rice, pico de gallo, pickled onions, jalapenos, avocado crema and cilantro with a choice of birria or carnitas;
  • Chilaquiles Concha Bomb: green chilaquiles, panela cheese, a fried egg and crema

There will even be options for children, including a Lil’ Trouble grilled cheese and SBJ sammy (made with sunflower butter and strawberry jam). 

Desserts will include Sweet Frida featuring concha (Mexican sweet bread) topped with Nutella and strawberries or El Panzón Diego (Big Belly) featuring a cinnamon-sugar churro with chocolate ganache, strawberry glaze and candied bacon.

Follow the Trouble - food truckX

Follow the Trouble

Trouble Makers Cocina will be making appearances at a variety of events, festivals and beer gardens in the coming months. Don't miss out. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates on all the trouble they’re stirring up.

Requests for catering can be directed to Trouble Makers Cocina at troublemakersmke@gmail.com.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.