Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sunday August 18, 2013 Food Trucks

Just like food on a stick, restaurants on wheels are something special.  And often food on a stick comes from a restaurant on wheels!   Food trucks are beginning to be seen around Thunder Bay.  You may have seen Pinetree Catering’s black Local Motion truck or Cindy Loohoo’s bright green Gourmet Eats on the Street truck, among others. Food trucks have an interesting history, and your Library has a few books which explore this unique dining experience.

When did the first food truck hit the streets?
In 1691 New Amsterdam (now known as New York City) began regulating street vendors selling food from push carts.  In 1894 sausage vendors sold their wares outside the student dorms at major eastern universities, and their carts became known as dog wagons. Ice cream trucks began selling frozen treats in the 1950s. In 1974 Raul Martinez converted an old ice cream truck into the first taco truck and parked it outside a West Los Angeles bar. (source: Running a Food Truck for Dummies)  Today the food truck market is one of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry. (USA Today, August 5, 2013, p 5B, from / Research / My Giant Search)

Why have food trucks become popular recently?
In a 2010 Maclean’s article, Julia Belluz explains:  In America, the craze was fueled by a combination of post-recessionary factors:  construction was drying up, which meant there was a surplus of food trucks, and chefs were being laid off from high-end restaurants.  The rules around street food are less stringent south of the border. ... By comparison, Canada’s gourmet street-food scene has been in the slow cooker.  Still, there are signs that’s changing. (“Construction guys never ate like this” Maclean’s, 10/4/2010, 123(38), p89.  From ebscoHOST database in My Giant Search.) 

How can I find a food truck?
The Web site of Eat Street, a TV program about food trucks on the Food Network ( has an interactive food truck finder. There is also an Eat St. App, which helps you find food trucks all over North America. Follow food trucks on Twitter and like them on Facebook and you’ll know where to find them.  David Weber notes that one of the major drivers of interest in food trucks has been improved technology that lets customers track trucks geographically over time. (Source: The food truck handbook)

How can I start my own food truck?
There really is a For Dummies book for everything, including Running a food truck! David Weber’s The food truck handbook: Start, grow and succeed in the mobile food business is another excellent resource.  Weber is the founder and president of the NYC Food Truck Association and really knows his stuff.  Start your own food truck business by Rich Mintzer focuses on start up and planning.

What’s the most popular food truck menu item?
The top five savory items are: burgers, sandwiches, barbecue, hot dogs and tacos.  The top five sweet items are: ice pops / frozen treats, cupcakes, ice cream, general desserts and bakery.  (Source:  The food truck handbook) Heather Shouse’s book Food trucks dispatches and recipes from the best kitchens on wheels can help you create some of this tasty food at home.

What do food truck operators like about their jobs?
Food truck entrepreneurs share their answers in The food truck handbook:
The high point is that we generally have a lot of fun. You get to be “outside” every day, meeting great people and giving them instant satisfaction, with your great product. Best part of street vending is taking your idea, this ephemeral thing, and after going through the arduous process of actually getting it off the ground, to see people line up to eat the food, your food, is pretty cool. 

I just got back from lunch, and can personally recommend the deep fried perogies on a stick from Cindy Loohoo’s.

Joanna Aegard

1 comment:

Robin said...

Thanks, Joanna! This is a very informative article! I am heading to City Hall today to have my first meal at a Food Truck in Thunder Bay!