Rub Turns 4 years Old, Owner / Chef Joel Bein Reflects

By on January 10, 2019

Founder, Owner, and Chef of Rub Food Truck – Joel Bein. Where to begin?

Many times we think that the next truly great, new and exciting thing for Tulsa will be something implanted – like a new Fortune 500 Headquarters, or a Trader Joe’s, or another Texas Mexican food chain, (and the list goes on). This is not a statement meant to diminish the value of implants like these to our city. They are important, and they will certainly continue to benefit our local economy under the current leadership.
BUT, we are SO rich with untapped resources that are begging and waiting and ready to be mined out. We are seeing this truth develop rapidly in real time with Kitchen 66 and the Mother Road Market, for example. But, individually and specifically Joel Bein is a prime example in our city of what a home grown Tulsan can do with a solid vision, a little risk, and a lot of hard work. Now, as Rub celebrates it’s four year anniversary, we sat down with him at Sette Italian Brick oven to grab a meal together and talk about his adventure so far.

Joel was already a familiar face in the Tulsa food scene after spending 15 years bartending here. But how he got into the cooking side of hospitality may surprise you. As PTA president for his daughter’s school Joel found himself regularly in situations where he was in charge of preparing the food for large groups of people over a 2 year period, before starting Rub. At some point along that path, while working as a roofing contractor, he knew that he loved preparing great food for people, and began to see the vision of how he could do it professionally, starting with a food truck. Rub was born soon after, and Joel was off to races with a trial by fire at the December 2014″ half n’ half marathon” at Turkey Mountain. No soft open. No warm up. Rub was slammed from the first day they opened the window.

When it comes to the particular dishes that Tulsa has gone crazy over at Rub there are three standouts. Let’s take a look at their top sandwich, a kick ass Cuban; their top taco, the Pastor Pork Belly Taco; and their top brunch dish, the Eggs Benny offered with various smoked proteins dependent on the particular day.

First, Rub’s Cuban Sanwich is as good or better than any other in town. As you would expect, there is the traditional mustard, pickle, Swiss topping using local fresh bread. But it’s the combination of both brisket and pulled pork, and Joel’s preparation of this meat that clearly sets this sandwich apart, and explains why is this is a regular sell out item when offered.

Second, the hands down best selling Rub taco is the Pastor Pork Belly Taco. Local pork seasoned and marinated in Joel Bein’s signature and secret pastor, and all smoked to perfection makes this taco top shelf and irresistible. Three years in a row Rub has won the epic “Taco Throwdown with this taco, beating out some heavy hitters like Stella Reauxs (Tiffanie Marie), Mangiamo, The Fried Taco (OKC area), Massa, The OkieHomie’s Much Co., and The Batchelor’s Table. But, now on to Rub’s brunch:

Third, Rub has broken through into the brunch market like bull in the market, and like no other food truck has been able to do. From offering brunch outside of bars (like Empire), to participating each week in the Cherry Street Farmers Market, to becoming a regular fixture at Fuel 66, Joel’s Rub has established itself as the number one brunch food truck experience. The ultimate stand out dish that took off from the very beginning is the Eggs Benny. Joel has used smoked salmon at times, pork belly other days, lobster claw if you get super lucky, and even pure blood Oklahoma bred wagyu in this dish. Last week he even managed to out do himself again with the dish by offering a black truffle hollandaise drenched over the poached egg. Bottom line? If you walk up to the Rub Truck and see this dish offered on the menu, order it immediately and without reservation.

In this recent interview with TulsaFood we asked Joel about what makes him do what he does? What fuels this passion? The answer is that he truly loves the people of this city and knows that the greatest contribution he can make is through cooking for it. Those who are closest to Joel Bein know this to be authentically true. Early on Rub was serving dinner downtown where Joel was seen giving a homeless lady a big bag of food. He had seen her digging food out of a dumpster. He turned to one of his cooks and said “How the fuck can I stand here with a truck full of food and not help this woman?”

Another time Rub pulled up randomly across the street from the day center. Within 10 minutes there was a line of 150 hungry and homeless who were lined up. Joel fed them all. No press. No self-brag social media campaign. Just a true heart to feed Tulsans.

And it doesn’t stop there. Joel has won the Ripple Chef Competition (benefiting Project Hope Worldwide) while making significant personal donations to the cause, as well as helping locally with Catholic Charities, Iron Gate, and others.

So it made me wonder.. Who are Joel’s most significant culinary influences in Tulsa that shaped him as he  entered and continues in this journey? The names of three women immediately rolled off his lips when I asked him: “Shannon Smith, Hope Egan, and Michelle Donaldson have each been huge influences and guides. I’ve been very lucky to know them as close friends.” Then some dudes came to mind, “Also – definitely Matt Owen, Matt Amberge, Ben Alexander, and Josh Vitt. Josh (Vitters Catering) has been very helpful to me as I’ve learned, first hand, how he executes big caterings without sacrificing quality.” And now, private catering has become the bulk of Rub’s business throughout the year.

 

We’re not done yet. After almost 10 years, Joel was also among one of the first and few food truck chefs to be featured in one of Jenny Veraga’s Test Kitchen private dinners where seats are awarded by lottery to those Tulsa Foodies that sign up on her list. Joel and his team rolled out dishes for 30 people inspired by the food his own family loves for him to cook for them. Among the top dishes were (1) a Smoked Salmon Almandine with an asparagus puree and pickled, charred corn; and and (2) an eye opening Chorizo Mussel dish with coconut milk and ginger lime.

I concluded my conversation with Joel by asking him, “What’s next?” With a wry grin he answered, “What isn’t next?” I took that to mean that all possibilities are his and the story is only just beginning. But, after talking further I can give you this teaser: By early February this year Joel and a partner are slated to have a new permeant concept in an airstream kitchen at Fuel 66. He confidentially shared the concept, brand, and menu focus with us, and it is exciting, but that is all we can say about it right now. Until then, get ready. Anything and everything is possible from here for Joel Bein and Rub in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Rub
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Mitch Dees

About Mitch Dees

Mitch Dees graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration and has since enjoyed both the life of an entrepreneur and the opportunity to work with non-profits. Mitch is a Tulsa area native and is known in the restaurant community as the co-founder of SMOKE on Cherry Street in 2010, Owner of DineDesign, and Publisher of TulsaFood.com. He enjoys premium cigars, conversation around a table, cheese, satire, craft beer, stories of rescue, friendly wine, last second shots, and numerous other expressions of beauty. His passion is for the people, ideas, and art that define Tulsa’s identity, but specifically our city’s food and beverage culture.

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