There are those who swear by street eats and those who avoid them at all costs. Fans of food trucks and carts may point to the entrepreneurial looseness, the homespun mobility and the availability of exotic international flavors in unexpected places as part of their appeal, while those who eschew them may list those same qualities as reasons for passing them by and getting grub at regular restaurants instead.
But whether you love street food or not, you may find yourself wondering, on occasion, just how safe and sanitary it is. A recent study conducted by the Institute for Justice, a Virginia-based libertarian advocacy organization and law firm, may allay some concern.
The group reviewed 263,395 food-safety inspection reports from seven United States cities in which mobile food sellers are held to the same health and inspection regulations as regular restaurants. And the group determined that in each of those cities — Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Seattle and Washington, D.C. — the health and safety records of the food trucks and carts were as good or better than those of brick-and-mortar restaurants.
As The Great Food Truck Race has shown us, food trucks now roam the streets in small towns and big cities across the country. Austin was at the forefront of this trend — some of the best food in town, from barbecue to tacos to doughnuts, can be found at food trailers parked around the city. Top Austin chefs like James Beard award-winner Paul Qui operate trailers, so you don’t have to shell out much cash to sample their acclaimed fare.
For Austin’s massive South by Southwest festival and conference, Chef Qui curated a group of trucks to set up shop near the Convention Center in a trailer park of sorts called SouthBites. We took advantage of every opportunity to grab a bite at this outdoor food hall, and here are five of our favorite dishes. You don’t need a festival badge to try them — SouthBites is open to all, and the trucks are parked in different areas of the city year-round. Read more
Chef Watson is on wheels. In New York City, you can find food trucks that purvey pretty much anything you can think of: Crepes? Curried goat? Schnitzel? Edamame? Ecuadoran fish soup? Check, check, check, check and check. But now, roaming the country (last week in Las Vegas; this weekend in Austin for SXSW Interactive), there’s a food truck that sells exotic delicacies that neither you nor anyone else would probably ever imagine. That’s because the dishes its chefs are whipping up have been conceived by a supercomputer (remember Watson, who triumphed on Jeopardy! a few years back?), to bring together ingredients in unusual combinations too complex for mere humans to come up with. The IBM researchers who’ve teamed with New York’s Institute of Culinary Education to make the truck happen call the process Computational Creativity (or Cognitive Cooking). Diners sampling dishes like Baltic apple pie — which includes pork loin, apples and garlic chips — apparently call it mind-bendingly delish. [NPR’s The Salt]
What’s in a name? Ever wonder how cobb salad, oysters Rockefeller and bananas Foster got their names? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel fills you in on the origins of these and other food monikers. But just so you know: Chef Bob Cobb’s surname was bestowed on the salad he made from leftovers at Hollywood’s Brown Derby Restaurant in the 1920s. Oysters Rockefeller’s buttery sauce, when it was created in 1899, was thought to evoke the richness of ultra-wealthy oil baron John D. Rockefeller. And the famous banana dish, which made its debut in New Orleans in the 1950s, was named in honor of a humble restaurant patron. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
Last night the celebrities on Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off had an exciting challenge ahead of them. They had to cook lunches to serve out of food trucks to 100 hungry customers. For the challenge Team Rachael chose the Comfort Cruiser food truck and made chili cheese dogs, mac ‘n’ cheese, and meatballs with mashed potatoes. Team Guy’s last remaining celebrity, Dean, went with Mighty Mexican and made triple-pork tacos. Both food truck concepts proved to be a hit with the crowd, though some dishes were more popular than others. In the end, Dean’s tacos got the most votes and won him the challenge.
When it comes to food truck food, many of you probably have a favorite standby like tacos, pizza, dumplings, hot dogs, etc. But if you had to come up with your own food truck concept, what would it be? Would you do something unique and different like Funky Fusion? FN Dish wants to know what would be your ideal food truck, what you would name it and the menu you would offer.
In honor of the newest season of The Great Food Truck Race, we asked Food Network stars, as well as some familiar faces from Cooking Channel and Travel Channel to share with us their vision for the ultimate food truck while FN Dish was at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Click the play button on the video below to hear what Marc Forgione, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Aarón Sanchez had to say.
Talk to us: What kind of food truck would you open?
This year’s contestants on The Great Food Truck Race are bound to learn lessons about the operational elements of a food truck that they’ll take with them and use after the show. While they’re learning lessons and taking notes, what about the other side of the truck — the customers?
We all know the rules of the game. Put your napkin on your lap, don’t eat with your hands (unless when appropriate), keep your elbows off the table and so on. But those rules apply to meals at a table. With a new generation of foodies comes an all-new set of rules for eating sans table at food trucks. You didn’t learn these tips in cotillion, no sir! So follow our guide to food truck etiquette to carve your way into the elite class of very polite food truck foodies.
It’s no surprise that social media and food trucks go together. We’ve known that for quite some time now. However, the reasons why the two are so dynamic are evolving as more social platforms become available and as the food truck movement continues to grow.
A recent SXSW Interactive panel brought together Food Network’s general manager of online brands, Bob Madden, and recent cast members from The Great Food Truck Race to speak on this topic. Daniel Shemtob from The Lime Truck, James DiSabatino from Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese and Stephanie Morgan from Seabirds sat down for an hour to discuss how they go beyond using Twitter and Facebook on a day-to-day basis.
So why is social media so important to the food truck industry? Each panelist shared their reasons:
1. To tell people where your truck is located.
2. To show the transparency of the business.
3. To gain the consumer’s trust.
The second season of The Great Food Truck Race hit the road with eight new food trucks and a grand prize of $100,000. Every Sunday, we saw each truck pull out all the tricks to stay in the game. But, ultimately, one truck said goodbye each week. Sunday night, it was down to the final two: The Lime Truck and Hodge Podge.
Both battled multiple Speed Bumps, but it was the Truck Stop that changed this competition for good for team Hodge Podge.
What first began as a cook-off to showcase the best of the best being served on NYC’s sidewalks has become a haven for worldly fare. Sure, there was freshly cooked cracker-thin pizza and hordes of colorful cupcakes, but it was the more exotic and foreign foods that won ticket holders’ hearts and judges’ votes. One thing was clear at this year’s Vendy Awards: New Yorkers covet their international cuisine.
From Jamaican comfort food to Greek souvlaki, Middle Eastern falafel to Korean-inspired tacos, there were foods from all around the globe. While everything was well worthy of our praises, a few dishes in particular caught our eye, and only one came away with the coveted Vendy Cup. Check out a few of the goodies that were on the menu at this past Saturday’s Vendy Awards, plus a rundown of all the winners.
The second season of The Great Food Truck Race hit the road with eight new food trucks and a grand prize of $100,000. Every Sunday, we saw each truck pull out all the tricks to stay in the game. But, ultimately, one truck said goodbye each week. Sunday night, it was down to the final two: The Lime Truck and Hodge Podge. Both battled multiple Speed Bumps and a Truck Stop that changed the competition for good.