I could start this entry with a history of gourmet food trucks — the evolution from hot dogs to haute dishes. The truth is, however, that there are already a ton of blog posts and even FoodTV/Cooking channel shows about food trucks. I’ll start with a confession instead.
When I was beginning to get serious about cooking, I was finding myself daydreaming about a common fantasy — owning my own restaurant. I’ve worked in restaurants and bars outside the kitchen (and inside once as a clock-punching teenage dishwasher) and I had no illusions about the business. I’ve known people from outside the culinary field who have opened restaurants and failed, and others who ended up successful, but are now a little shell-shocked from the experience. But, it took Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential to simultaneously make me believe that I could cook as well as a restaurant cook, and yet would never actually be insane enough to quit my day job and open a restaurant.
That’s not the confession. This is: I would quit my day job(s) to run a food truck.
That doesn’t mean I will, but if you twisted my arm enough, I would probably sit down and seriously consider it. Maybe run some numbers. I have already doodled some sample menus and looked up potential chariots on eBay.
I know, there’s the cost of the truck itself, and permitting. Inspections, food costs, fuel costs. Supplies, the hours, what to do with the kids. Fickle Florida weather. Marketing. It’s not necessarily romantic or idealistic — like most things in life, especially the entrepreneur-type things, it’s a lot of work.
But, unlike a restaurant, there is something liberating about food trucks. Small menu, quality ingredients. Do I stay 100% local, or go with the Maine lobster for a dish or two? What about adding vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
It’s like catering, without the client (or, with a thousand of them). It’s like a dinner party, but outside the house.
I know it’s not going to happen. Christey suggests doing a dinner party with my food truck menu and that’s probably much more likely in the next few months. But, if you ask me about food trucks, that daydream look in my eye is more than just thinking about the food.
Orlando is a big enough city to host many food trucks. This summer, there were several food truck bazaars where food trucks from all over Central Florida gathered in one parking lot to show off. Orlando is about an hour away from us, so we packed off the kids and went.
Choosing is hard. There’s local-only. There’s dessert. Food that’s good for you, food that’s decadently bad for you, and food that is just plain good.
There are trucks that combine cuisines like Korean BBQ Tacos. There are trucks that go back to the basics — dogs and pulled pork.
The food is good, but there are drawbacks. Food trucks aren’t restaurants. They aren’t tied into the local power grid with silent electrical cables. The generators that give these trucks the power they need are pretty loud, and a parking lot full of them can make it hard to chat.
Restrooms are non-existent, something that’s a Federal law with brick-and-mortar restaurants. Luckily, this gathering was next to a shopping mall with restrooms, but it was quite a hike from the bazaar area.
Crowds there were, but they were fun. Some were taking pictures of the food, like our fellow foodies at iPhoodies.com
Then, of course, it was down to the food itself.
It’s a cliche, but there really is something for everyone. Especially gelato for dessert.