There’s something mesmerizing about the pour of yellow crêpe batter onto a hot griddle, and the subsequent swirling, dolloping of fillings from Nutella to berries, and the final flip and fold. Leila Zambrano was hooked the first time she experienced the food in 2011 in Chelsea. “I grew up in Ecuador and crêpes are not typically found. Once I tasted one, it immediately became my favorite dessert.”
She loved them so much she went on Youtube and other sites for the best recipes and techniques for making them. Zambrano started dating Yonkers resident Nick Vazquez in 2016 and she would meet him “halfway” (she then lived in Mahopac) at T Swirl Crêpe in White Plains, relaying her dreams of opening a cafe or bakery.
Vazquez, a mechanic for the city of Yonkers, urged her to instead consider a less expensive option: a food truck. “I figured if we can build the brand via a truck, the brick-and mortar could follow. Plus there aren’t any trucks doing crêpes in the area.”
The duo found a trailer they could convert at a reasonable price for $5,000 — in Kentucky. They drove down on a Wednesday night after work (10 and a half hours) and arrived home (a drive of 15 hours) on Friday, just in time for Leila’s shift that evening at Barnes & Noble Kitchen.
Armed with a culinary course from BOCES and lots of home baking experience, the couple launched Leila’s Crepe Station in June of 2018 and the former waitress couldn’t be happier. Their first event was that same month — the Rye Food Truck Festival — and the evening prior Vazquez was hurriedly painting and placing the decals. “There may have been a few slightly crooked ones,” he admits. The trailer’s approximately 100 sq ft interior is tight with a four-base sink and two crêpe-makers. “People ask us if we want to kill each other in there because of the small size but we always have fun together, one of us prepping, the other spinning crêpes,” she says.
According to Zambrano, the key to the perfect crêpe is letting the batter rest in the fridge, which helps with consistency and texture. Slightly crisp on the edges, the golden remainder light and tender, her crêpes made with flour, eggs, milk, and butter are winning. She offers about 10 sweet flavors and three savory ($6.50-$9.50). The berry cheesecake consisting of seasonal berries, a sweet cream cheese filling, and graham cracker crumble has become a signature.
Says Vazquez, who proposed to Zambrano in the trailer September 8, “She has such a sweet tooth, she would eat dessert for lunch and dinner.”
When it comes her crêpes, she’s probably not alone.
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