May the force be with food

Prana Catering’s food truck fund fueled by pop-up lunches at Over Yonder

sequence_010.jpg

Smallvannah strikes again.

Earlier this year, Shane Schautteet and Adam Simonitch catered their first big event, serving up a Lowcountry boil at the wedding shower for the latter’s Common Thread colleague and friend Caitlin Galvin.

The party was held at Over Yonder, and co-owner Chris Moody was there and met the pair behind Prana Catering.

Three months later, Galvin invited the Prana partners to a dock party. Yes, Moody was there, and he, Schautteet, and Simonitch small-talked about Moody’s latest venture, Baby’s General Store.

He casually mentioned the need for a place that serves easy grab-and-go breakfast tacos, and Simonitch said, “Oh, we can do breakfast tacos.”

Before Baby’s is born and because Prana Catering needs its own mobile kitchen, Moody and Steuart Wainright invited Schautteet and Simonitch to use Over Yonder to serve their own pop-up lunches on Thursdays and Fridays about a month ago.

“We’re putting what they make from their lunches to go toward their truck,” Moody said of the cooperative venture, including investor David Parajon, that began in Oct. and will run through the end of the year, at which point Schautteet and Simonitch hope to have their truck.

“It’s been going so well,” Simonitch said, thanks to friend support that has slowly built into an eater-on-the-street reputation.

“It’s such a beautiful story,” he added of how all this came about.

THIS IS WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

Prana Food Catering’s origin goes back a few years, when Schautteet and Simonitch moved from Austin into the latter’s father’s home in Dallas. Covid-19 had cost them their jobs, and they needed to be with family to “reset and save money.”

During this “very peaceful time,” per Simonitch, the life partners reflected on a decade each in the hospitality trade and daydreamed of the decade ahead. They wanted to create something that spoke to their shared “love for cooking and passion for performance” and chose to start a catering company.

Friends John and Dakotah Howard, whom they had met in 2019, introduced Schautteet and Simonitch to Savannah hospitality and let the couple live with them for six months as they “got their footing in a new city” after moving to the 912 in June of 2022.

“We are forever grateful for them,” Simonitch said.

Phase one of their grand plan comprised getting to know the community and networking with the hospitality industry. At the Forsyth Farmers’ Market, they shopped and developed great relationships with many of the purveyors while learning about the seasonal foods of the Coastal Empire.

In the meantime, Schautteet, who plays with fire both in and outside of a kitchen, became very involved with the Stardust Pixxies, a local performance troop.

“Savannah’s got a great community for it, too,” said the fire-spinning chef, “so I’ve really grown as a performance artist.”

“There’s lots of fire puns and jokes,” Schautteet said with a smile.

“We both felt very much welcomed by Savannah's great community, and everytime we shared our dream of Prana, we would be met with all support and love,” Simonitch shared. “This is how we knew that we were in the right place to launch our project.”

Back in Feb., filmmaker and fellow Common Thread server Sven Klingen offered Simonitch the opportunity to cater his senior thesis film, which really got the ball rolling for Prana as other students started reaching out to them, too.

Soon after, Galvin gave them the Over Yonder wedding shower gig that brought them to Chris Moody’s literal door.

TEX-MEX-MED

The catering company’s name comes from “the energy that you put into something,” said Schautteet: scratch-making tortillas and home-making salsas, being “very mindful” of the “nourishing clean eating” they are creating.

“That’s when he feels the prana,” Simonitch chimed in about his husband’s process.

During the Dallas reset days, they ate at Ferah Tex-Med Kitchen, a restaurant that melds the cuisines in its moniker, and this sparked an idea.

“Oh, if they can do it, we can do it,” Simonitch said. “Tex-Mex-Med. It kind of rolls off the tongue.”

“We do want to blend those two flavors,” added Schautteet, whose mostly Texas upbringing allowed him to learn loads of Tex-Mex recipes and cooking techniques from professional kitchen experience.

“The throughline of my food is the traditional methods,” he explained,

 noting his tinga whose shredded chicken is boiled in stock that is then reused to make the rice so that “the flavors are all mixed together.”

The pop-ups at Over Yonder have given the pair time to “nail” the dishes that they know while also turning tacos into paninis, developing several flavors of hummus and babaganoush, mastering Persian rice, and mixing up Greek and Egyptian salads.

One signature sandwich is the Millionaire BLT ($13), which stars brown-sugar-candied bacon, fresh greens, garlic aioli, and cherry tomatoes that have been halved and macerated in balsamic vinegar before being roasted with a sprinkle of oregano.

The toppings are just that, squirted and sprinkled on top of the paninis, Schautteet’s “aesthetic” touch to show that each sandwich is made with prana.

“I like to treat every dish like I’m making it for my friends,” he said.

The Curry Bird panini ($13) pairs curried chicken with caramelized onion and is topped with spiced-and-diced apples and a curry aioli swirl, a combination that works just as well as a taco substituting a salsa for the aioli.

One of their “milder” hummus flavors is a traditional lemon-garlic with chili oil, served with tortilla chips ($6), while the “chipotle-mint is a little more adventurous,” Simonitch said.

In the Red Dream Salad ($10), roasted beets and those tangy balsamic tomatoes are tossed with mixed greens, diced apples, sunflower kernels, and a lime vinaigrette.

The lunches they have served up at Over Yonder will largely look like what their future food truck will offer: paninis, tacos, curries, salads, rice bowls, and hummus.

BABY’S, BABY’S, BABY’S, OH!

At long last, new life has been breathed into the 1920s former gas station at the corner of Price and East 37th.

“It’s finally moving,” Moody said of the extensive renovation. During the first week of Nov., work on restoring the roof was wrapping up with electrical and plumbing rough-ins next in line.

Doors and windows courtesy of a Historic Savannah Foundation grant are slated to arrive in the first week of Dec., which has Moody shooting for a Feb. opening.

The relatively small interior space of the general store will feature beer and wine for both on and off-premises consumption, Baby’s own coffee blend courtesy of Jittery Joe’s (Athens), an assortment of sundries, and grab-and-go food.

The property will have room for two food trucks, and Moody plans that Prana will be there most days to provide two meals at what he expects will be “more of an eight-to-eight place.”

In the meantime, over yonder at Over Yonder, he and Wainright will welcome Nixtate for a Friday, Nov. 17 lunch pop-up from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Schautteet and Simonitch will resume their Prana stint the following week.

Simonitch spoke for his partner-partner and said, “In the end, we definitely want to be community-forward. I want to support local purveyors. I want to source from the Farmers’ Market and local farms in Georgia, like highlighting one farm’s item per week. That’s really important to us.”

“We would not have been able to do this in Austin,” he said. “I feel that in my heart.”

“We knew a lot more people in Austin, but we started over completely here last year,” Schautteet echoed. “I feel like we’re way further than we would have been in Austin.”

Through the end of the year, Prana Catering will serve its lunch menu at Over Yonder (2424 Abercorn Street around back) on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.



  • or

Right Now On

By Film...

By Theater...