Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect High Tide Gourment's new location in front of Academy School, next to the town green in Madison.
While the latest Madison food truck may be new to the area, owner Rich Messier is far from a newcomer. High Tide Gourmet formerly was parked at the entrance to Madison’s “Constitution Park” at the site of the former Griswold Airport. It is currently parked in front of the Academy School, next to the town green and down the street from Madison's restaurant and retail district.
The business is owned and operated by Messier, who has years of experience in the food industry. More specifically, he has 35 years in the seafood industry and is cashing in on this expertise with his newest venture.
Starting in the food business at 13 years old and specifically in a seafood restaurant in 1985, gives him invaluable experience. “My specialty is seafood,” he said. “I’ve been around seafood my whole life.”
Weekends, for years, have been devoted to Messier’s catering business, Rich’s Lobster Bake Connection. He sees High Tide Gourmet as a natural extension of this catering business.
His menu shows that he is trying to offer very unique food from his food truck. Alongside seafood offerings of New England Clam Chowder, lobster rolls, crabcakes with a mango mayonnaise, pan seared sea scallops in a Thai seasoning sauce over Asian coleslaw, and shrimp scampi over linguini or rice, the menu features Caesar salad with chicken, shrimp or sea scallops, a veggie burger with a roasted red pepper Aioli sauce, rum guava barbequed pulled pork sandwich and Hummel hotdogs.
"Everything I make on my menu is made to order,” Messier said. “My crabcakes are my crabcakes, I don’t buy a crabcakes and then cook someone else’s product," he added. "It’s all made in the truck, from my recipes.”
Making the food in the truck is part of the agreement Messier has with the authorities that licensed him for this new venture. There are a plethora of agencies he had to work with in order to start up. “The whole Town of Madison went through my truck,” said Messier. This included the police department, the fire department, the health inspector and Planning and Zoning. In addition, Messier had to go through certification with the Secretary of State’s office in Hartford.
The truck, originally a bread truck, had to be redesigned for Messier’s cooking needs. The result is a space that allows him to do everything from preparing the food, to serving it. “Everything I do, due to the laws, everything has to be done in that truck,” explained Messier. “Everything is made to order when someone comes up to my window, it’s not premade.”
With only a week under his belt Messier is extremely happy about going out on his own. “For my first week, I was shocked,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a slow start overall. I thought I had a really good week for my first week!”
“It feels unbelievable,” said Messier. “I’ve been in the food business for over 35 years and instead of working for the other man, to make them money, at the end the rainbow it’s all coming to me!”
High Tide Gourmet will be at the Academy School, most weekdays, Monday – Friday, noon - 7 p.m., weather and other circumstances allowing. When school is out they will remain open until 8 p.m. Check before you go by calling Rich at 203-605-7020, the number you also can use to contact Rich for catering. High Tide Gourmet is also on Facebook.