Updated with memorial information.
Steven Saelg, who was a pioneer in Central Florida’s food truck business before opening a restaurant in Clermont last year, died on Tuesday from pancreatic cancer. He was 40.
Saelg, a native of New Jersey, was orginally in the finance industry, working on Wall Street before moving to Central Florida. A desire to pursue a different occupation led him to Le Cordon Bleu, from which he graduated in 2005. He cooked in the kitchens of the Citrus Club and K Restaurant in College Park as well as at New York’s famed Tavern on the Green.
In 2010 he decided to try his hand at the food truck trend that was happening in other parts of the country. His truck, The Crooked Spoon, was one of the early pioneers in the area, one of only a small handful of trucks operating full time. Although the food truck scene is still strong, with nearly a hundred trucks licensed locally, Saelg found it demanding. “The food truck has been probably the single most difficult thing I’ve ever done,” he told me in June of last year when he announced he would be leaving the food truck scene. The “constantly running around,” not just to food truck events but also to pick up product, was “logistically very challenging.”
So in August he opened the Crooked Spoon Gastropub in Clermont, specializing in the gourmet burgers that had been a popular item from the food truck menu. He also told me the kids menu would be given the same attention to details as the regular menu. “I have four kids of my own,” he said, “and I can’t stand it when they have the same crap on the kids’ menus all the time.”
When I visited the restauarnt in November, Saelf had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment and another chef was standing in.
He is survived by his four children and wife, Rebecca.
Update: The family suggests that in lieu of flowers contributions may be made to The Saelg Children College Fund c/o PNC Bank, 210 Citrus Tower Blvd., Clermont, FL 34711 (Checks payable to Rebecca Saelg – College Fund Acct.) or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 25, at Real Life Christian Church, 1501 Steve’s Rd., Clermont.