Homemade waffles on Christmas morning at his uncle's house imprinted Cole Whaley with childhood memories he treasures. His grown up adoration of buttery waffles, crispy on the outside and tender inside, inspired a new calling: food truck chef.
"In college, waffles were pretty cheap to make myself. I knew whenever I started something in the food industry, it would be centered around waffles," said Whaley, the owner and operator of Cole's Palette.
The sweet and savory waffle truck made its first appearance on Montgomery County streets in April. Cole's food truck parks in Silver Spring on East West Highway between Blair Mill Road and the Giant shopping center every Monday. On Fridays, Cole's Palette is normally at Columbia Pike and Musgrove Road.
"I was walking by and the truck caught my eye. I love waffles," said Nicole Giles, a D.C. resident who works in the area. "I was on my way to get some chicken, and it just so happens that he has the chicken and waffles, my two favorites."
For his version of this culinary classic, Whaley uses skinless, boneless chicken breasts that he breads and fries himself. Most of his waffles are made from a from a flour base that includes malt flavoring. Whaley adds eggs and other ingredients.
"My waffles, even sweet, don't come with butter because I add a pound of butter to every 31 waffles," Whaley explained.
Cole's Palette sells sweet waffles that are familiar to most people, such as pecan and chocolate chip. Whaley also creates red velvet waffles from scratch and serves them with a cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans. But he applies his greatest culinary creativity to the savory variety.
"I sell a lot of chicken every day, but I definitely sell a lot of crab as well," said Whaley.
Whaley makes crab cakes with jumbo lump crab and serves them on a waffle. The idea for his latest waffle masterpiece came from the culinary training class he is taking at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg. It is a green chili, cheddar cheese and cornbread waffle topped with a taste of New Orleans.
"There's a poached egg. It has gulf shrimp, andouille sausage and gumbo gravy. That is directly a result of things I'm learning," said Whaley.
The Cole's Palette owner began his kitchen adventures as a high school student in Cleveland. He continued cooking for friends and families during and after his college days. When he and his wife moved here from Seattle, the former corporate salesman seized on the food truck trend as an opportunity to pursue his passion.
"I'm a lover of food first. I really love the food truck scene," said Whaley. "I went up to New York a couple of weeks ago just to try some waffle trucks up there."
Some Cole's Palette regulars stop for other offerings not widely available, such as pop chips from California and natural sodas from Seattle (including wild lime and lavender). Whaley believes his business will grow as more food trucks roll into Silver Spring. For now, he is cultivating fans at other locations and expanding his horizons as a caterer and personal chef.
Note: This is a business profile, not a review. Opinions expressed do not represent the ideas of the writer or Patch.