Archive for the ‘Profile’ Category

Photo by: Courtney Hergesheimer - Columbus Dispatch

Profiling mobile eateries is becoming a more difficult task for us at Mobile Cuisine Magazine. With every passing day, we receive numerous emails and direct messages on Twitter. These leads and tips give us scoops about new trucks and new cities that food trucks and carts are being allowed to operate in. From Durham, NC to Portland, OR, street food vendors are opening up on a daily basis. The tough part is narrowing down who is to be covered. This is fantastic for us, since if we chose to, we could profile 5-10 trucks a day…every day.

With that said, some towns are getting more mention than others due to their fans, and our readers. One such town that is continually being referred to us is not one that jumps to the top of the list when you think about mobile food, but in our estimation, that is coming to a close very shortly.

Columbus, Ohio, home of “the” Ohio State University, is quickly gaining a name for itself within the industry and it’s community, and we have taken notice.  Although the city doesn’t have specific codes governing food trucks, mobile vendors must still obtain health department approval and a peddler’s license as well as licenses for any additional employees they may have. The Columbus traffic code states that a vehicle selling goods cannot park on the street for more than 15 minutes, thus trucks must operate on private property; pushcarts have to work by a curb and leave at least 5 feet of pedestrian sidewalk space between the cart and the adjacent building. “It’s a safety issue,” said Sharon Gadd, the city’s licensing manager.

To research for today’s profile we were able to get a list of mobile vendors from the Columbus Underground Discussion Forum. At the top of their list sat our choice for a vendor profile.

Photo from: columbusalive.com

Last year, James (Jamie) Anderson sent out an email to his restaurant (Smackies BBQ) followers, which included this snippet,I have opened three restaurants and I have closed them all. I couldn’t seem to get my blood pressure down and closing the restaurant I think has finally got me nice and calm and I think my blood pressure is right where it needs to be.

The restaurant biz will make an old man out of a young man really fast. So I have went back to my roots. ONE MAN – ONE SMOKER. I have no restaurant and no staff to babysit. Just me and my Pit, back to the basics.” And so was born Ray Ray’s Hog Pit.

The smoke coming from the corner of Pacemont and High Street, is not what you may think it is, rather, it is the smoke generated from the barbeque pit of Ray Ray’s. The pit is situated in a barbecue cart where, on a blustery day, the aroma of hickory smoked brisket carries for blocks. The cart is only open Thursday through Sunday but on those days, there is always a line. According to his fans, that is because nobody in town makes better ribs than this Pit Boss.

Photo from: columbusalive.com

Ray Ray’s orders their beef from a certified organic farmer raising Heritage cattle in Oklahoma, and smokes it with only a light seasoning of salt and pepper. Once the meat comes out of the smoker, it is rubbed with Ray Ray’s special seasoning (paprika, onion powder, and sugar) and doused with his homemade Dogfish Head Ale Barbecue Sauce, a  tangy South Carolina style sauce and is finally grilled. The menu consists of 3 meat options; ribs, brisket and pulled pork. If you make your way to this food cart on Sunday you will have the additional option of a lean grass fed beef brisket. Once you have made your selection, you have the option of three sauces, mild, hot and habanero.

The tasty side dish options are Southern style collard greens, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and coleslaw. Any of these sides will help to compliment to main course. Should you have room after your meal, there is a desert offering which normally consists of banana pudding and fruit cobbler which are all made by Jamie’s wife.

Our suggestion is if you want to be sure to get your order filled, get there early, Ray Ray’s opens at noon but, according to Jamie, he almost always sells out of his daily 100 pound grass fed allotment long before his normally scheduled closing time of 8 p.m. The cart has no website, no tables and a posted warning about their inventory: When it’s out, it’s out. But one of his followers on Yelp may have said it best, “Ray Rays what can I say, you’re my BBQ crack heaven…”

You can follow Ray Ray’s Hog Pit at Facebook.

Ray Ray's Hog Pit on Urbanspoon

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Now that our cities streets are being frequented more often by taco trucks, and cupcake trucks, why not expect to start finding trucks with something really useful, like fresh fruit and vegetables?  Although not the typical food truck, we have found a truck to profile that was truly designed to help its community.

Experts call Detroit a food desert since more than half of its population must travel at twice as far to reach the nearest grocery store as they do to a fast-food restaurant or liquor store. Detroit’s limited public transportation makes it difficult for those without cars to get to farmers markets or suburban stores, and decades of population decline (from 1.8 million in the 1950s to half that now) have made most neighborhoods in the 138 square mile city too sparse to support corner produce stands.

Those who have studied the city state that people in developing countries have much better access to fresh produce than Detroit’s residents. The lack of fresh food has become a public health problem in Detroit. In a neighborhood which is has a ratio of 26 liquor stores to every grocery, a community group has found a way to sell fresh fruits and vegetables like ice cream. This group is taking a fresh approach to the problem and, it’s bearing fruit.

Five days a week, the Peaches & Greens truck winds its way through the streets as a loudspeaker plays R&B and puts out the call: “Nutritious, delicious. Brought right to you. We have green and red tomatoes, white and sweet potatoes. We have greens, corn on the cob and cabbage, too.” The truck is set up like a small market and brings affordable produce to families on public assistance, homebound seniors and others who cannot reach the well-stocked grocery chains in the suburbs.

Lisa Johanon, executive director of the nonprofit Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corp., which runs Peaches & Greens, started to investigate the idea of a mobile produce truck as a way to get fresh food into the kitchens of Detroit residents. After navigating her way through Craigslist, she was able to locate a used UPS truck for the low price of $5,000. With the help of volunteers and donations of paint, shelves and a table-top refrigerator, the vehicle, which once sported the UPS logo, was converted into a colorful collage of bananas and watermelons.

Their prices are very reasonable. A single banana sells for a quarter and an apple for 50 cents. Compare that to a $1 bag of potato chips or $1.50 can of pop, and it’s hard to argue with the truck’s cost and health benefits. “When kids don’t have a proper diet, their brains are sluggish and they don’t perform nearly as well at school. Buying an apple or an orange is a treat for kids because they are not used to having it. To them it is candy,” Johanon explained.

Photo from Carlos Osorio/AP

The truck’s route is divided into four quadrants, traveling from Interstate 75 to Linwood Avenue and from West Grand Boulevard to one mile into Highland Park. It runs from March thru December, since residents are reluctant to leave their homes during Michigan’s snowy winters. The truck is equipped with a handheld scanner to ring up purchases from food assistance recipients, who get funds transferred electronically onto a card used like a debit card. About half of its customers use food stamps.  “We’re in the process of getting approved by WIC, so people will be able to come with their WIC coupons.”

The truck operates Tuesdays through Saturdays and is stocked and driven by employees of Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation. Johanon purchases the inventory twice a week from two local sources: the Detroit Produce Terminal and Eastern Market, as well as maintains an urban garden where produce is grown and maintained by the groups volunteers.

The nonprofit organization that funds the truck, the Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation, also runs a storefront where they offer cooking classes in addition to selling produce and other healthy staples like grains, beans and dairy products.  Together, these collective initiatives are trying to transform a city from a barren food desert into a community where the pounds of carrots and plums outnumber the pop cans, beer bottles and fast food items.

 

Photo from Justin C. from Yelp

 

Rumors have been circulating for the past few months about the possibility of the owners of Fojol Bros. of Merilindia, an Indian style food truck in Washington DC, opening up a new truck in our nation’s capital. These rumors were speculating that the new truck would be serving up a different style of food to the area. As we have recently found out, the rumors were true, and their latest food truck was unveiled last weekend and its name is Fojol Bros. of Benethiopia.

If you hadn’t guessed, this truck will be serving up Ethiopian selections and Wednesday marked its first official day. This is the first Ethiopian food truck to roll onto Washington DC streets, but based on the initial reviews of the truck’s fare, it won’t be the last. Managing this new truck is Russell Bailey, a high school friend of Fojol creator Justin Vitarello. Bailey and his wife, Lula Habte, are providing their culinary skills in the mobile kitchen. Both come from culinary backgrounds. His family operated a restaurant and deli in Leesburg, VA, and Habte’s mother owned restaurants in her native Ethiopia. In fact, Habte’s mother’s berbere blend is used in some of the truck’s dishes.

Initially, this truck will be tag teaming the streets with the Fojol Bros. original curry styled food truck. “We call ourselves a traveling culinary carnival,” the 31-year-old operator Bailey says. “But one truck isn’t quite a traveling culinary carnival. Now that we have two, we feel like we are really living up to the name.”

At first glance, the only difference between the trucks is their color scheme (the Benethiopian truck shares a color theme similar to the Ethiopian flag), however once you walk up to the new truck, you are going to see a large sink that is available to its customers. The sink provides hot water, soap and paper towels. If you are not familiar with Ethiopian food, you may wonder why a sink, however if you do know about the use of injera (a spongy, pancake style bread used as utensils) the sink makes perfect sense.

The menu offers 5 items, with 3 different size options. You are able to mix and match any way your taste sees fit. As of this report, there is only one meat option; however, once the chefs find a breed of chicken that meets their requirements, the truck will begin to offer a traditional doro wat. All of the items are served with a heaping portion of injera bread to use instead of utensils, even though forks are offered for those not interested in eating with their hands.

 

Photo by Justin C. from Yelp

 

Current options include

Beef Berbere:  Ethiopian spiced beef provides a sweet heat, but won’t offend customers with a low heat pain threshold.

Meatless offerings

Berbere Lentils: Lentils served with the same spices as the beef.

Collard Greens: Not to worry vegetarians, this selection is not made with pork, but does have a mix of tomatoes and onions.

Beets and Beans: Sliced beets with green beans.

Sunflower Injera Salad: Lightly cooked sunflower seeds combined with small pieces of injera.

The concept of this vehicle is fantastic and should widen the cultural perspective of many of DC’s population by introducing them to mobile Ethiopian cuisine. Food truck owners across the nation have the ability to share international food styles with a population that is more accustomed to grabbing a 6” turkey sandwich from Subway or a BigMac and large fries from McDonalds. With the Benethiopian Truck, the Fojol Bros. have done it again and we wish them continued success.

To date the Benethiopian Truck does not have a seperate Titter feed or website, however you can follow the Fojol Bros. on Twitter or at their website.

Fojol Bros. of Merlindia on Urbanspoon

 

To follow our Meatless Monday theme, we bring you a profile of one of Los Angeles’ only vegetarian food trucks.

 

Image by Urban Sketchers

 

The Dosa Truck is the brainchild of Brooklyn born, Leena Deneroff. Ms Deneroff grew up eating from many NY food trucks as well as from other various street food vendors. She had always wanted to open a restaurant, but couldn’t afford to do so financially. The mobile food trend allowed her to fulfill her dreams in 2009. The truck’s name originates from the style of South Indian cuisine they serve. The dosa is explained on their website as, “Take a crispy sourdough crepe made from rice and lentil flour… stuff it with regional and gourmet ingredients and roll it long and thin and you’ve got a DOSA.“ In our opinion the best way to describe the dosa is to take a French crepe, introduce it to a Mexican quesadilla and then match the pair with Indian pesto.

One of the standard vegan friendly menu items is the Sita’s Surprise. This dosa comes packed with a blend of spiced sweet potatoes. If you are a vegan, be sure to ask for it or any of your other orders without chutney which contains dairy ingredients. A rotating menu item from the truck is the Shiva’s Garden which comes with a tasty blend of chopped avocados, caramelized onions, and baby heirloom tomatoes.

Although known for their dosas, the Dosa Truck does serve additional fare. They serve other Indian inspired menu items such as the Samosa. It is filled with yellow curry, peas, and potatoes. How can you go wrong with a fried shell stuffed with fluffy spiced potatoes sprinkled with fennel seeds and choice of dipping sauce?

 

Dosa Truck owner Leena Deneroff

 

While dosas and samosas are a continual menu item, the Dosa Truck also carries items such as desserts, appetizers and salads such as the Channa Chaat. This salad is a cold chickpea salad served on greens with baby tomatoes, it is a cool and refreshing compliment to all the other hot dishes featured on the truck’s menu.

No matter what you order, you will find what many of the Dosa Truck’s customers have found.  Their food is delicious enough to repeat the quote from the side of the truck “ommm good.”

Dosas are an ideal street food that you can easily eat on while you walk or shop in the area the truck is visiting.

Follow the Dosa Truck on Twitter @dosatruck, or at their website.

DOSAtruck on Urbanspoon

If the rent is too damn high, try out the treat that proves that one dollar can, and in fact, buy you happiness.

Koo’s Sweet Rice Pancake Ho-tteok Cart sits parked outside a market in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. Koo is the family surname of this treasure’s owner. Although they have yet to enter the next generation of social media food truck/cart marketing on Twitter, apparently, word of mouth is spreading and the word is delectable.

The simple fact this cart has only a single item for sale should tell you something quickly. When asking Mr. Koo of your choices, he will politely answer, “There is only one thing.” They make nothing else; there is no need for a menu. They serve nothing with cheese or zest, nothing with foam and nothing laid out on fine china. When you order, you are handed a fresh ho-tteok wrapped in a standard Styrofoam container. Anyone should be able to appreciate the simplicity in this take on true street food.

According to the Koo’s daughter, her parents went to Korea to learn how to make these treats after they saw the lack of locations these items were sold, in the L.A. area. The family opened their first location at the California Market in Garden Grove, and then expanded to Koreatown in 2001.

Ho-tteok are a glutinous, moist, sweet Korean pancake that is filled with a nugget of molten syrup which is made from chopped peanuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. These pancakes are approximately five inches in diameter and are the perfect fare to grab if you are headed in or out of the market.

According to their fans, Koo’s ho-tteok ranks as one of the best snacks/desserts in the Los Angeles area. I believe one Koo’s customers put it best, “One dollar per pancake? One dollar for a slice of heaven? I would be outside this cart every day for every meal if I wasn’t worried about my waist size.”

Locations:

450 South Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90020

8911 Garden Grove Boulevard
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Koo's Grill on Urbanspoon

The twitter analysis site, Klout, reviewed hundreds of the nation’s food trucks to determine who would be its most influential. It was determined that LA and NYC dominated the list of entries, with a couple surprising (to them) results from Phoenix and Chicago.

  1. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck – Not a traditional ice cream truck, @biggayicecreamtruck topped Klout’s list.
  2. The Grilled Cheese Truck – Coming in at a close second, is @grlldcheesetruk delivering a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches to the streets of Los Angeles.
  3. Kogi BBQ – @kogibbq LA’s busiest Korean BBQ Taco Truck.
  4. Happy Bodega – @happybodega offers gourmet snacks to the streets of Chicago.
  5. Schnitzel & Things – @schnitzeltruck is serving hand pounded, lightly breaded thin cutlets fried to golden perfection in the streets of New York City.
  6. Nom Nom Truck – @nomnomtruck is a Banh Mi Food Truck serving Los Angeles.
  7. Wafels and Dinges – New York’s @waffletruck has mastered sweet and savory waffles.
  8. Truckin’ Good Food – @truckingoodfood is a Parisian style street food truck with an All-American flavor from Phoenix, AZ
  9. Lomo Arigato – LA’s @lomoarigato is famous for it’s Asian fusion dishes.
  10. The Munchie Machine – And last but not least.. @munchiemachine1 is one of Los Angeles’ newest street food trucks serving traditional snacks like PB&J and Smores.

Mobile Cuisine Magazine sends its congratulations to you all, with a wish of continued success.

And they are all centered on Chef Ron Eyester

Maybe the flavors are kind, but the owner certainly isn't.

Although slow, the Atlanta area’s food truck industry is building up steam.  You might think that with this happening, restaurant owners would do all they can to keep from losing paying customers. One such owner, Chef Ron Eyester, has done the complete opposite, and actually expressed his rant with one of the largest food sites in the country. Shared with us by eatocracy, we have found that Atlanta diners have a tendancy to bother the owner of Rosebud Restaurant, and the great businessman he is, he felt it would be a wonderful idea to share his thoughts.
1. He hates when you rearrange his furniture, “Do you like it when people come over to your house and move your furniture around? Yeah, neither do we.”

2. God forbid you want to celebrate a birthday at his restaurant. “I love how a restaurant is expected to acknowledge your birthday like it’s a national holiday or something.”

3. Don’t you dare stay there too long or get there a little late, “One of my all-time favorites: People’s utter disregard for hours of operation.  ‘Oh, you all are closed? OK, well, I just get some food to go.’ No, I don’t think you get it – we’re closed.”

4. Should you be late for your reservation? “You know what happens when you’re late for a flight? You miss it! You know what happens when you’re late to the movies? It starts despite the fact that you’re not there. Why am I obligated to hold your table when you’re late?”

5. Be very careful, don’t be so sure that you and the chef are friends, “A chef really loves when you drop his or her name – especially when you don’t have a reservation on a busy night.”

6. Finally, it appears that the time that is the best for us, should not be the time we call to him, “Why do people always seem to call the restaurant at the absolute worst time (i.e. between 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. and 7 and 9 p.m.) to inquire about our menu or make a reservation?”

A word of advice to you Chef Eyester, as a business owner, it is up to you to help attract customers, not keep them away. Unfortunately, even if you do learn this lesson, it will have been too late, as we will be sure to avoid your eatery the next time we visit Atlanta. Where’s the taco stand?

Yet another metropolitan area has entered into the world of mobile cuisine. With its rich automotive history, it should be no surprise that Detroit and its suburbs have permitted what is thought to be its first food truck to open its doors for business.  Jacques’ Tacos is the latest spin off from the wildly popular Los Angeles’ food truck industry. Detroit area native and single Michelin star rated, Wesley Holton, was the executive chef of Daniel Boulud Brasserie in Las Vegas before it closed last year. With the idea to move back to his roots, Chef Wes moved back to the Detroit area with dreams of opening his own restaurant. With Jacques’ Tacos, he has already achieved his goal.

Holton has found what other food truck owners have learned on their own, getting all of the approvals, passing numerous inspections and finally getting all of the required permitting is no easy task. According to Holton, “If I had known what I know now, my life would have been a lot easier.”
With a menu that offers up a variety of taco delights, all of the chef’s tacos come with a warm corn tortilla, fresh black beans, corn salsa queso fresco and salad vert. It is up to the customer to select their protein from braised beef short ribs (The D-Town), grilled chicken, or slow roasted pork. These heavenly tacos will cost you the mere sum of $2.50, so feel free to try them all out until you have found a favorite.

As one customer put it, “Jacques’ is what would happen if the Taco Trucks of Southwest Detroit grew up…”

Right now Chef Wes is making regular stops in Royal Oak, Farmington Hills and Canton with plans to add more locations and trucks in the future.

You can follow Jacques’ Taco truck on twitter here.

Jacques Tacos Mobile Truck on Urbanspoon

 

Road Stoves GPS
Developer:
Mobile Restaurants, LLC
Cost: $0.99
Runs on: Android, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch
Website: www.roadstoves.com

The Road Stove GPS app is a must download for anyone who is looking to use food trucks as a meal source, especially in the Los Angeles area.

The application first requests your area, then provides all of the trucks in their database that are within 5, 20 or 50 miles from you. Once you select the truck to follow, the software uploads the specific information for that truck. You are now able to view their menu, their twitter feed will populate your screen and once you choose to find them, you will get driving direction from your current location.

The only downside to this software is that once a vehicle has turned off the system, the application no longer gives you their location and drops them off any searches you may make. The problem I can see will be when the trucks are doing something like refueling, or replenishing their food products. While their system is down, there is no way to know if they are down temporarily or for the rest of the day.

If any suggestion could be made, it would be to include a status message for each truck so that followers would know if they should move on to the next food truck for service. Mobile Cuisine Magazine recommends this product to those whom follow food trucks. Even if they do not have your area covered, in talking with the developers, they should have something for you very soon.

Rating: (once the developers have included more cities, this application will easily move into the 4.5 – 5 star range)

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Starting today, as a regular feature of Mobile Cuisine Magazine we will bring you the profiles of some of the country’s finest and favorite food trucks, food carts and mobile food stands. If you would like to submit a suggestion for one or more of your favorite mobile eateries, please go to the Hotline page and send us your ideas.

If you haven’t heard yet, Big Truck Tacos of Oklahoma City has been awarded the title of America’s Favorite Food Truck through a competition held by Food Network. In winning this award, this OKC team has been given the chance to compete in the second season of Food Network’s “The Great Food Race.” In addition to this fantastic opportunity, the truck owners (Chris Lower, Cally Johnson and Kathryn Mathis) were awarded the monetary sum of $10,000.

Garnering the most support during the competition, this team was able to outshine more than 300 food truck owners from across the country. Although not exactly sure what they will do with their new found winnings, they had the feeling that they would spend some of it on renovating their truck.

The fare this truck is serving in the Oklahoma City metro area is more elaborate than most. A major difference between Big Truck Tacos and traditional taquerias is that the tacos and burritos aren’t entirely reliant on salsas for taste. Whether you order beef, bison, pork, tongue or fish, each selection comes packed with the flavor of herbs, garlic and onion. The tacos are served Mexican style, or in laymen’s terms, doubled tortillas with no option of a deep fried shell. Unlike their Mexican counterparts, Big Truck gives you a choice of corn or flour tortillas.

 

Image from Existential Sock Monkey

 

According to Lower, “Their idea was to create street food with a twist.” As shown through the number of votes they received, it appears that not only have they accomplished this feat, but they have found a strong following that agrees with them.

Congratulations go out to Big Truck Tacos, and we at Mobile Food Magazine look forward to following you on the next season of The Great Food Race.

Big Truck Tacos on Urbanspoon