How one Columbus Food Truck Reels in Customers

Renee Casteel Cook
Jeff Annis and his son, Korey, created Reel Smoke's wooden artwork.

Korey Annis and his father, Jeff, have two passions: cooking and woodcarving. Last year, the duo set out to combine their shared hobbies by bringing fresh seafood to Columbus via Reel Smoke, an attention-grabbing oceanic scene on wheels. The food truck officially took to the streets in November after introducing a menu highlighted by lobster and shrimp rolls through pop-ups last summer. Plans for a second truck are already underway.

The seafood on Reel Smoke’s menu is flown in fresh from Louisiana (shrimp) and Maine (lobster and cod). The “smoke” in the name refers to the truck’s housemade sauces—like smoked pineapple mayo and smoked red bell pepper mayo—that top items such as the crowd-favorite lobster roll.

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Korey, previously the head chef of La Chateau in Charleston, South Carolina, says his father raised him around the kitchen, starting him out as soon as he was “capable of handling a spatula.” Woodworking—specifically, chainsaw sculpture—also runs in the family. The family’s store in Perry County, Woody-N-Paws, competes in national wood-art competitions. To set Reel Smoke apart, the pair decided to treat customers to a maritime design that highlights the cuisine offered from their seafood-focused truck, with the tagline, “Changing how you seafood.”

To create the wooden seascapes that adorn the food truck, it took the pair just 30 days to design and sculpt nearly 1,000 pounds of cherry wood, chosen for both its beauty and durability against weather. Squid carvings wrap both the wheel well and hood grill. A sea turtle and lobster perch on the roof, while the rear of the truck features a pelican and two seahorses. The highlight: The two large side panels—each 28 feet long and 400 pounds—that feature fish and other sea creatures.

Check out the making of Reel Smoke’s carved seascape on Instagram @Reel_Smoke.