I thought I would start up a blog meme today to find out why other bloggers post on the same topic we do. If you are tagged then you can write a post with a link back to the blog or individual who has tagged you, write a list of 3 reasons why you are blogging and finally, add a list of 5 other bloggers you want to tag with this question.

Here are three reasons that I blog about food trucks:

1. Learning – When this blog was started, it was because I couldn’t find a central location on the web that centered its attention on food truck news across the country. I have started pooling information that I have found from region to region and try to share this information with my readers.

2. Fun – I blog about food trucks because I have learned to love the industry. The owners, the customers all seem to share this this passion, and it has been a ball writing about it.

3. Making New Friends – Although it’s only been a month MCM has been active,  I have already made some new friends by blogging. Even if I gave up blogging tomorrow, I would stay in touch with many of my blogging friends and keep up with their blogs.

I tag I love food trucks, Food Carts Portland, Saturday Night Foodies, Save the Food Trucks, Gourmet Food Trk

The only thing I don’t like about these memes is choosing which bloggers to tag. I would really like to tag more of you. Let’s hear what you have to say.

 

Thanks to our friends over at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, we bring you a story of one Cleveland food truck owner and his adventure into the food truck industry.

Chef Chris Hodgson had to navigate a maze of city laws before he could finally get his gourmet food truck, Dim and Den Sum, on the road last spring. It took more than two months — plus the guidance of a city councilman — for him to collect 14 pieces of official paper to get street legal for anywhere in the city. Among them: Three kinds of peddling permits; a health inspection certificate; a catering license; a vending license; and a fire inspection certificate. Estimated cost: $2,800.

“It’s a lot more difficult than what people think,” said Hodgson, a 24-year-old Cleveland-area native and culinary school graduate who has worked at Michelin Star restaurant The Spotted Pig in New York City as well as restaurants in Cleveland, California and Boston.

“That was probably the biggest frustration,” Hodgson said of his permit chase. “We’re chefs. We didn’t know how to figure out the process.” Help may be coming. The city is putting together legislation to simplify the permit process to one application and one fee, expected to be about $150. The goal is to see food trucks develop here as they have in other big cities.

At the same time, Cleveland wants to balance the concerns of restaurateurs, some of whom see food trucks — with their inexpensive gourmet fare and low overhead — as unfair competition. “We want to make it business-friendly and efficient,” said Kevin Schmotzer, of the city’s economic development department, which is working with other departments on the legislation.

The city also is trying to balance concerns of restaurateurs, some of whom see the food trucks — with their inexpensive gourmet fare and low overhead — as unfair competition.

In Cleveland, the city’s solution will be to limit the gourmet food trucks to “food deserts,” places where healthy food is unavailable, and where, presumably, there are few or no restaurants. Two examples: near the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame & Museum or on certain quadrants of Public Square.

Photo from shawnmariani.com

Dim and Den Sum set up at the farmers markets on Public Square a few times this summer, often selling out most food onboard.

The legislation also may set minimum distances between a parked food truck and a restaurant, Schmotzer said. “We’re trying to make it a great program, an efficient program, one that supports the entrepreneurs of the food carts, because we want them,” Schmotzer said. “At the same time I don’t want our phones ringing with restaurant owners when these things are parked right out in front.”

That tension between mobile food vendors and bricks-and-mortar restaurants played out in Medina recently, when a Valley City woman asked the council to refine its laws so she could sell sandwiches from a cart parked on the city’s historic town square. The council dropped the issue after hearing from merchants on the square who were concerned about potential competition, said Planning Director Greg Hannan.

In June, the Cincinnati City Council designated three downtown locations where food trucks could park, and the city charges fees based on parking there every day for a year. Thomas Acito, owner of food truck Cafe de Wheels, said the locations are OK for attracting lunch customers but are useless for finding evening diners. “We have this whole business district, and we don’t have anywhere we can do business at night or for dinner,” Acito said.

Dim and Den Sum started out by doing late-night stops outside nightclubs such as the Flying Monkey Pub in Tremont or the Happy Dog in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. Mike Snyder, owner of the Flying Monkey, said Dim and Den Sum is a good addition to his block, on Jefferson Avenue at the corner of Professor. Nearby is a Thai restaurant, Ty Fun, and fine dining such as Fahrenheit, across the street. Dim and Den appeals to his customers, who want food that is quick, but sophisticated, Snyder said.

The Flying Monkey doesn’t sell food, so Snyder lets his customers bring Dim and Den Sum into his establishment. “The guys who run the truck are great,” Snyder said. “Their food is great. They clean up after themselves. They have their own garbage cans. We haven’t had a problem with them at all.”
Hodgson said, however, that lately he has been focusing on serving the lunch crowd, because business there is better. “We have to find big groups of people,” Hodgson said.

Plus, doing lunch and late-night both was turning Dim and Den Sum into an exhausting, round-the-clock operation. “We’re a small group of chefs, and we get tired,” Hodgson said. Dim and Den Sum fans keep track of the truck’s movements and menu by “liking” the business on Facebook, checking its mobile app, going to dimanddensum.com or following @DimAndDenSum on Twitter.

Myra Orenstein of Cleveland Independents, the organization for locally owned restaurants, said not all restaurateurs fear competition from gourmet food trucks. “When you look at Cleveland independents, they don’t look at each other as competition,” said Orenstein, who is president of her own marketing and advertising company, CATV Inc. “Anything that can be done to enhance the food scene is welcome.” Restaurants and food trucks attract different diners, Orenstein said. While food trucks are for on-the-go dining, a restaurant sells its ambiance and service.

Cleveland hopes to encourage gourmet food trucks, a trend that has caught on in cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Austin, Texas. One measure of the trend’s strength: Food Network this year launched a reality series, “The Great Food Truck Race,” in which gourmet food trucks competed for a $50,000 prize.

Food Network also hosted a contest last summer in which fans across the country could vote for their favorite food truck. Dim and Den Sum took third place among 280 contestants. Cleveland’s growing foodie culture and local-food movement make the conditions right for the high-end food trucks, Schmotzer said.

City Hall wants to encourage these entrepreneurs, many of whom don’t have the resources — access to upwards of $250,000 — to open a bricks-and-mortar restaurant. “You have a lot of people who have some amazing talents but they just don’t have the capital, especially in this lending environment,” Schmotzer said. “To get the experience of running something, this is a good stepping-stone.”

Gourmet food trucks, with their penchant for sophisticated cuisine using locally grown and raised food, are a great outlet for the urban gardens and farms that are blossoming across Cleveland, said Councilman Joe Cimperman, who helped Hodgson navigate the city permit process.

“The idea is to leverage and maximize the kind of economic development that occurs because of local food,” Cimperman said. “It’s a complete and totally sustainable economic development eco-system.”
Food trucks are not just for entrepreneurs, either, Orenstein said. A number of restaurant owners she knows are looking into getting their own food trucks on the road.

Lucas Dunn’s food cart business, Pedaling Hummus — a cart pulled by a bicycle — debuted on Public Square a few weeks ago. Dunn got started through a city pilot program aimed at spurring micro-economic development, promoting locally sourced and healthy food and supporting local artists through street vending businesses.

Dunn said, however, that business was slow, and he hopes to do better in the spring when more people will be out and about. Dunn’s also hoping to sell on the Case Western Reserve University Campus, where he thinks the students might be more familiar with his menu, which features chickpea spread and pita chips. Running a food truck business in Cleveland, however, does have its drawbacks: six months of chilly-to-cold weather.

Dunn said he may switch to hot chocolate and granola bars during the winter; Hodgson said he will shutter his meals-on-wheels operation during the cold months.

But Hodgson’s seven months on the road was so successful, he’s using the profits to open a bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Ohio City in May. He’s planning two more trucks. And in the meantime, he’ll do catering and special events. “My goal was to come here, establish a smaller business, show that we could get people behind it and open a restaurant,” Hodgson said. “I did it in seven months. And I’m still in shock.”

You can follow The Dim and Dem Sum Truck at Twitter.

Thanks to Time Out Chicago, food truck fans and followers in the Chicagoland area, now know where the candidates stand on the issue of allowing food trucks to operate within the city. Under a proposal by Aldermen Daley and Waguespack food trucks would be authorized by permit and regulated by the city to work on the streets of Chicago to sell their cuisine, and at the same time, be able to prepare the food on-site, unlike the current legislation which prevents anything but prepared food to be sold from trucks on private property.

Of the candidates running for Mayor of Chicago, an election that will be held on the February 22, 2011, 92% support legalizing cook-on-site food trucks. This is a good sign for voters and those of us who frequent the city, but do not live within their limits and thus cannot vote in this election that food trucks may be closer than ever once the new mayor is elected. Here are what the candidates said.

Carol Moseley Braun: “Support, and I applaud Ald. Waguespack’s leadership on this issue.”

Cynthia Plaster Caster: “Well, if they allow it in cities like Chicago, then they’ll have to legalize it in other great cities like New York and Los Angeles…oh, wait!…they already have! It’s ridiculous that cook-on-site food trucks are not allowed. Especially when you see them for movie-set catering.”

Gery Chico: “They need to be held to the same health and safety standards as bricks-and-mortar restaurants. As long as the source of the food is safe and the equipment used to store and sell the food is safe, I believe it will enrich our experience as citizens to be able to taste foods and have culinary experience from other cultures throughout the city.”

Annazette Collins: “I didn’t know that was an issue because I see those food trucks all the time but I didn’t know they couldn’t cook on them. So we’d have to hire more city inspectors to license them and inspect them. That would give more people jobs. I’d probably be okay with that.”

Christopher Cooper: “I support it. I am a native New Yorker—raised in New York City—one of the things that I miss about NYC are the sidewalk pushcarts on which food is prepared.”

Miguel del Valle: “Cook-on-site food trucks represent healthy competition and open up more entrepreneurship opportunities in a city in need of job creation. These food trucks could also be used to bring more food access—including nutritious options—to underserved neighborhoods.”

Rahm Emanuel: “I do not believe cook-on-site food trucks should be illegal. The ordinance proposed by Aldermen Daley and Waguespack takes a good first step by allowing for preparation of fresh foods on mobile food facilities and commissaries throughout the city, while maintaining stringent health regulations and protecting local business owners. I believe we should be doing more to promote access to fresh foods throughout the city and encourage innovation in our food industry.”

Rickey Hendon: “I’m not as familiar with cook-on-site food trucks, but I wouldn’t necessarily be against them as long as they are licensed.”

Rev. James T. Meeks: “Food trucks overall have the potential to create new employment opportunities and small-business growth, so it’s definitely a boost to the local economy. If they obey the health and safety rules, I’m in favor of it.”

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr: “Naturally, I am in favor.”

William “Dock” Walls: “I am in favor of cook-on-site food trucks. Cultural events are made better when participants , attendees and others have an opportunity to taste the local fare. The trucks will enable vendors to achieve their dreams.”

Fredrick K. White: “I am against it. It would be wrong to have trucks sitting outside established restaurants competing for customers. It would also be very hard to enforce any type of health codes.”

As you can see, other than Fredrick K. White, it appears most of the candidates will provide their full backing of the food truck industry in Chicago just  as other major US cities currently do. Apparently Mr. White hasn’t left the city to visit other metropolises like Los Angeles, New York, or Washington DC to see how mobile cuisine is helping provide jobs, additional tax revenue and fantastic foods to population in these areas.

As we mentioned last month, influential foodie guide Zagat added food trucks to its list of

eateries it reviewed. Earlier this week, the creators of this guide made finding food trucks easier with the launch of Zagat Food Trucks, a free website designed to help hungry New Yorkers locate their favorite mobile cuisine.

The map, now in its beta testing phase, was created by creative interactive agency JESS3, allows users to search for food trucks by location, by cuisine and by Zagat food rating. Once a user has chosen a food truck, the site will indicate its location, social media links (Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter), as well as its Zagat ratings and reviews. Currently, Zagat’s top-rated food trucks are limited to trucks in the Manhattan area.

Trucks will also be able to make their wandering whereabouts known by tweeting their locations to @ZagatTrucks, which automatically updates the app. While there’s no mobile app version of this service, users can follow the action on their mobile browsers.

About Zagat Survey, LLC

Known as the “wildly popular” “burgundy bible,” Zagat Survey is the world’s most trusted source for consumer-generated survey information. With a worldwide network of surveyors, Zagat rates and reviews restaurants, hotels, nightlife, movies, music, golf, shopping and a range of other entertainment categories and is lauded as the “most up-to-date,” “comprehensive” and “reliable” guide, published on all platforms. Zagat content is available to consumers wherever and whenever they need it: on ZAGAT.com, ZAGAT.mobi, ZAGAT TO GO for smartphones and in book form.

Movember

It’s Movember, time to grow a mo or a support a bro as “a gentleman is, after all, still a man no matter how gentle he is.”  The Movember movement started 7 years ago by 30 mates in Australia and the phenomena has grown worldwide; now 9 other countries are on board including New Zealand, USA & Canada.

Participate or Donate

Last year over 128 000 Mo Bro & Mo Sistas participated in earning 21 million dollars for men’s health charities.  Participants begin clean shaven on November 1st then proceed to grow a Mo until the campaign closes on 10th December, using this as an opportunity to promote the cause and acquire nominee sponsorship.

The face of men’s health in terms of public awareness and charitable funding is pale in comparison to that of women’s health, though the moustache symbol is becoming iconic, easily recognizable as a cause worthy of donation.  This is especially the case in Australia, though fund raising endeavors are now occurring throughout November across the globe.

Sporting the Stash for Cash & the Cause

Movember 2010 Campaign’s slogan is “Every Man Deserves a Bit of Luxury” and their official Australian Foundation site explains, “As a result of a lack of awareness around men’s health issues in the past, many men today do not fully understand or know about the risks they face.”  The luxury of awareness, education and funding is being afforded to men with this effective campaign.

It is a fact that cancer occurs more frequently in men and research shows men require resources in identifying issues, seeking treatment and looking out for one another in terms of health.  The moustache symbol is a comedic spin and a humorous catalyst for behavioural change regarding serious matters.  Part of the intention of this campaign is to “give men the opportunity and confidence to talk about their health.”

The Movember Foundation Register

The premise behind Movember is simple in that participants begin with an online registration: If you’re back for 2010, you login and reactivate your account or if you’re new to Movember you sign up and begin.   From there participants campaign either individually or on a team, earning support through nominations and the possibility of receiving some prestige such as Man of Movember, Miss Movember or Team Mo, meaning the campaign is open for everyone to participate, including women in support of their men.

The moustache is now iconic with this international campaign aiming in large part to break down the barriers and taboos surrounding the men’s health movement. Movember United States is a distinguished foundation and the iconic moustache is held in high esteem.  The international organization originated in Australia which speaks to the campaign’s cleverly designed nature whereby public awareness and funding is raised for serious men’s health issues addressed with a vital sense of humor; therein lies the secret of this greatly successful, ever growing campaign.

Do your part today, sign up for Team Mobile Cuisine and donate to this great cause. If you are already a member and belong to another team, feel free to just donate.

Team Mobile Cuisine’s Movember Page

 

Thanks to a suggestion from one of our readers (Janet Tandy), MCM will now be offering the same options for job hunters as we do for food truck owners. If you are looking for a job within the food truck industry, we would ask you to submit your information via email to Mobile Cuisine Magazine. What we would ask from you is to supply us with:

  • Your name (will be withheld from public viewing)
  • Type of position you are looking for
  • Brief description of your experience and/or education
  • Your geographic location
  • Salary requirements
  • Email address (will also be withheld from public viewing)

We will structure this page to show this information and will allow prospective employers to email us for your personal information so they may get in contact with you directly. We cannot assure anyone will contact you, however, if you wish to keep your information posted, we will do that indefinately, or until you let us know you are no long available or looking for employment. For food truck owners looking to hire someone, please feel free to email us at Mobile Cuisine Magazine with the candidate’s listing number, and we will respond back to you with their contact information.

Mobile Cuisine Magazine would like to introduce a new feature to our web site and is extending this offer to food truck owners as well as food truck manufactures and food truck equipment vendors. Starting today MCM will post job opening for these groups free of charge (this may change at a later date). What we would ask from those submitting specific job openings is to email us at  Mobile Cuisine Magazine with:

  • Job title
  • Brief job description
  • Experience required
  • Job location
  • Company name
  • Contact person
  • Phone number with area code
  • Address (especially email) or fax number and instructions for résumés
  • Employer site URL for job seeker research, if available

Once we have verified that these positions are valid, we will create a post on the main page as well as on our new classified page where readers can come back to check on openings in their area. There will be no limit as to the number of jobs one company can post, however each advertisement for a job opening will be reviewed on a case by case basis and MCM claims the right to not post a job ad for any reason we deem fit. Once the position has been filled or closed, we will delete it from the job listing page, as well as edit a note into the originally posted job article stating that the position search has ended.

With the economy in the its current shape, we would like to do our part in helping both job seekers as well as companies looking to staff up their mobile operations. We hope this idea is welcomed by our readers and takes hold as a means to aid in the continued growth of mobile cuisine industry.

After last week’s introduction to Meatless Mondays, Mobile Cuisine Magazine has received numerous inquiries about meatless options in the Food Truck Industry. In today’s article, we will provide you with an introductory list of vegetarian/vegan food trucks around the country. We have created this list on Twitter, and it can be followed here.

As we find more trucks, we will be sure to add them. No matter what part of the country we investigated, we have found meatless options everywhere from Durham, NC to Portland, OR, from New York, NY to Austin, TX to multiple cities in the Southern California region. The cuisine these trucks provide varies from authentic Indian to barbeque, from salads to deserts. The options are almost endless, which goes to show, how health conscious many in the industry already are. We hope that directing our readers to meatless food trucks, more truck owners will follow the trend and give their customers more meatless options, not only for Mondays, but for the entire week.

fojolbros fojol bros – a traveling culinary carnival

DesiFoodTruck Desi Food Truck – NYC’s first ever Authentic Indian Mobile Food Truck. Kati rolls, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Curry & rice, Mango Lassi & More! The Corner of 27th St & 5th Ave

IndianFoodTruck Indian Food Truck – Indian Food Truck, Durham, NC

ButtermilkTruck The Buttermilk Truck – Mobile diner bringing housemade breakfast favorites day and night!

BorderGrill Border Grill Truck – Gourmet tacos, quesadillas, ceviches, and more from “Too Hot Tamales”

dimsumtruck THE DIMSUM TRUCK – The World’s Biggest Dim Sum Cart – The first & only food truck serving authentic dim sum!

NanaQueens Nana Queen’s Truck – Nana Queen’s is the 1st Mobile Catering Truck to specialize in Banana Pudding and Wings!

IndiaJonesCT India Jones Truck – Gourmet Indian street food truck !

chairmantruck Chairman Bao Truck – We offer traditional and flavorful Chinese steamed and baked buns that use the freshest ingredients – savory and addictive.

ButtercreamPhl Cupcake Truck – Mobile Cupcake Bakery in Philadelphia

BistroTruck Bistro Truck – Gourmet Food Truck

whatthepho Mobile Pho Truck – Mobile Pho Truck. Roaming the Bay Area. In your town? Tomorrow.

VizziTruck Vizzi Truck – Coastal infused cuisine for all your sense.

joyridetruck Joyride Truck – Joy in a Cup – Serving Gourmet Frozen Yogurt and Stumptown Coffee on the Street.

YattaTruck Yatta Truck – Good food in yo mouth!

thepietruck The SF Pie Truck – delicious meat and veggie pies!

thelimetruck The Lime Truck – Ever changing menu combining healthy salads, delicious grilled sandwiches, decadent tasty treats and unique limeades and aqua frescas

cloverfoodtruck cloverfoodtruck – everything will be different tomorrow

GreenTruck Green Truck – Organic , vegan-friendly mobile food, and production catering.

MandolineGrill Mandoline Grill – Traditional and vegan-friendly Gourmet Vietnamese food truck serving the streets of Los Angeles!

CCVegan CounterCulture Vegan – Counter Culture is a vegan and raw food concession trailer in Austin, Texas, open Thurs-Sat, 12-8, Sun 12-6. Chef/owner Sue Davis.

wolfandbears wolf and bear’s – Veg/Vegan/middle eastern from scratch. Thurs-Mon.11-7.

SeabirdsTruck Seabirds Truck – We’re a vegetarian catering truck in Orange County that uses local and organic produce. Meet us at the curb for a great meal! Vegan, gluten-free, raw options.

hotpeppasteppa Granny’s Truck – Organic Jamaican Super Food…Jerk Chicken, Ital Stew, Brown Stew Fish and all kinda of patties!! Also Vegan Jerk everytime:)

organicavenue Organic Avenue – LOVE*=Live Organic Vegan Experience

VeganLunchTruck Adam Sobel – The Cinnamon Snail is the country’s most raunchy mobile Vegan Organic restaurant! We serve Hoboken NJ Thursday-Saturday, Red Bank NJ on Sunday.

goodkarmatruck Rachel Carr – We are a raw vegan ice cream truck, bringing conscious ice cream catering to LA!

lagueratamalera la guera tamalera – white-girl tamale maker: organic *non-gmo corn masa*no lard*no trans fat*gluten free*tamales for vegans, vegetarians + shameless carnivores

OrganicOasis organic oasis – The world’s first organic smoothie truck. We sell vegan organic smoothies, organic frozen yogurt, raw snacks, ginger shots and coconuts. Eco friendly truck.

theicycle The Icycle –Biking frozen treats on a tricycle throughout the LA area. Local food artisan and vegan goodies on board.

We know there are many more trucks that have meatless options than are listed here, however, we felt the list would be more relevant if we added trucks on a regular basis, instead of providing an initial list which may only leave out a few trucks.

If you own or know of a truck you feel would be a good fit for this list, please let us know and we’ll be sure to add them so others can follow them too.

Please do your part today and join the movement? Signing up is fast and easy! Follow them on Twittter

Mobile Cuisine Magazine looks forward to continued coverage of Meatless Monday for our readers!

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