Once upon a time, purveyors of food from trucks, stands and carts earned little regard from food critics or cooking publications. And either you knew where to find them because they staked out the same general location or, in the case of ice cream trucks, you could hear them coming.
But with an increasingly mobile (and hungry) society and the rise of social media, food trucks seem to be gaining a foothold and even some culinary legitimacy, thanks to endorsements like Food & Wine magazine’s.
Every year, Food & Wine seeks out the best new chefs based on nationwide recommendations and months of research to unearth culinary gems with five years or less of experience running their own kitchens.
For the first time, the magazine tapped a food truck chef to hold one of its coveted–if not sometimes controversial–spots as one of its ten “Best New Chefs for 2010,” who were introduced in the July 2010 issue. Roy Choi, proprietor of the Kogi BBQ truck in Los Angeles, is but one of the faces of a new trend that’s taking food to the streets in major cities.
Using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter or other websites, customers addicted to the edible app or even those adventurous enough to sample the new craze can find where and when to find food trucks like his.
Make no mistake, Kogi BBQ doesn’t serve your typical hot dog stand fare. For instance, two recipes recently featured in Food & Wine magazine include Roy Choi’s L.A. Gas Station Taco recipe–among its ingredients are popular gas station items like beef jerky and pork rinds–and a Midnight Torta (sandwich) marketed to L.A.’s late-night party scene. Like the cooking approach that garnered him the “Best New Chef” title, this sandwich combines Asian and Mexican flavors–fried eggs, spinach, pork and jalapenos. But neither his culinary combinations nor his kudos end there.
Sports network ESPN teamed up with Kogi BBQ and the food truck concept to offer fans hungry for sustenance and hungry for World Cup action the opportunity to get both in one place. Through June 29, L.A. and New York City each had its own ESPN Match Truck serving up a range of international flavors created by Roy Choi that were inspired by the countries participating in the World Cup.
But not everyone is welcoming the food truck trend with open arms… or stomachs. At least one Los Angeles city councilman is crusading to ban trucks like Kogi BBQ’s in hopes of sustaining the city’s stationary establishments.
This seems more of a knee-jerk “solution” instead of seeking how to adapt to the changing food service and delivery landscape. Granted, fighting the bigger battles of convenience and technology may be a futile attempt, making that the very reasons food trucks are here to stay. At least until something better comes along.