Fry Captain DC

5 Tips for Setting a Schedule For Food Truck Owners

If you’re in the food truck business, you know that everyday can present a new and exciting challenge in this world, and you may not know what to expect. This can be hard when you’re trying to make a schedule or a game plan in your business efforts and goals. Most of the time, food truck owners are putting much of their own money into making their business and food truck become successful, so a well planned and neat schedule may be crucial in making some money and keeping your food truck in the green and have customers come back for seconds.

Here are 5 tips on setting up a schedule in the food truck world:

Location, Location, Location

Map out some of the hot spots you’d like to plant your truck down and sell hungry customers your food. What are the spots you want to visit multiple times, maybe every day of the week, versus the ones you want to visit once a week or only a short period amount of time a day, If you map out exactly what places you’d like to hit, use a stopwatch or timer to calculate how long it takes to get to each location for maximum time spent at each place.

A Watch Can Be Your Best Friend

There are certain times in the day where more customers are expected, and if your food truck is in the right place at the right time, that only means hungry customers eating your food, giving you money! Figure out when the majority of people hit that spot. Is it right after work? After church? After school? Etc, etc! Use a watch (even a leather one) to move from other food truck locations to spots that will get more business properly and efficiently!

What’s Your Schedule Now?

If most, if not all, of your day isn’t spend in that truck cooking up some great food and instead your own schedule outside clashes too much, it’s time to rethink your food truck strategy. It’s important to dedicate sufficient time and energy into your food truck because that is the only way word will get out and people will come in. Clear your schedule and work out a plan that will get your food truck business up and going by using all your time and efforts.

An Organized Schedule is a Happy Food Truck

Use color coded post-its if needed and colored markers to highlight important notes made on a schedule. If you’re missing important spots or times due to miscommunication or lack of a schedule, organization is key here! This will help you get to your hungry customers faster and more efficiently.

Communication and Connection with the Team

As you may know already, an effective food truck business has a strong team behind it. Give your number and email to all employees in case of emergencies or schedule issues. Your team can chip in and help make the schedule to set forth a plan that works for everyone and brings in money.

Chef: A Tale About a Food Truckie

If you love the idea of being your own boss and everything working out in the end, then you will enjoy the movie “Chef” directed by Jon Favreau. One of the things that sent my husband and to this movie was because it looked so starkly different from everything else that was in the theaters. It was all super heroes, fairy tale remakes, or horror, and then we saw the preview for “Chef.” I wouldn’t call this movie fast paced, and it really didn’t have any huge surprise twists or turns. †The cast was amazing though, and it was a great story about relationships.

The main character, Carl Casper, is a “successful” chef who is recently divorced and struggling with his relationship with his son. The movie immediately challenges what it means to be “successful.” He works in a restaurant that is making great money, but†management stifles his creativity as a chef, and he is in a bit of rut making the same old food over and over again. After a number of humorous exchanges with a local food blogger, including a very embarrassing public spectacle where Chef Carl ironically screams in his face, “You aren’t getting to me!”, he finds himself out of a job and searching for a new direction in life.

Chef Carl, after†the urging from his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), decides to start a food truck business (how he ends up with the food truck might be the best, and one of the weirdest scenes in the movie, with a great exchange cameo from Robert Downey, Jr.). †This way he can make whatever he wants and be his own boss. He gets the truck in Miami, and the whole process of cleaning, retrofitting, and painting the truck seems to take only one day! †He then embarks on a cross country trip driving the truck back to Los Angeles with his best friend and his son, and visiting prominent cities along the way (including Austin, Texas, which in my personal opinion has the best food trucks in the country).

The movie was slow in parts, but overall was a tale of fairly tame mid-life crisis where everything works out in the end. I definitely don’t recommend going to see the movie before a major meal, because the movie does focus on food and eating, and the cuban sandwiches and brisket alone were enough to make my mouth water. The movie also reminded me how much I love to cook, and how it just takes a little extra effort to make food go from okay to great. The cutting and slicing skills shown in the first few scenes were amazing, and I immediately looked up my chefs choice knife sharpener review to make sure I has the right sharpener for my knife.

Appliances in Food Trucks

Recently, There has been a rise in a particular kind of business-Food trucks. Yes, this type of business has started conquering and by the looks of it, will continue to conquer the streets of the cities.

Since it is a very viable business and most likely here to stay for a while, it would be very interesting to know how to start a food truck and to really just know what makes up a food truck. Obviously, it is composed of a truck and a lot of ingredients that would eventually make up a delicious meal or snack. But what of the appliances? Just what kinds of equipment are involved in making up a food truck?

  • Freezer/refrigerator- When operating a food truck business, one thing is obvious: you have to keep your ingredients always fresh and in top shape. Your would-be customers would really be less inclined to buy from your food truck if your ingredients are not fresh and if the drinks you serve are not cold or have no ice on them. This is why a food truck is not completely a food truck if it does not have a freezer or a refrigerator in it.
  • Microwave- Though the objective in running a food truck is to cook a customerís food on the spot while they stand and wait, there may be times when heating up foods and/or defrosting things might be necessary. This is where a microwave will come in handy. It is so much smaller and occupies less space than an oven but performs better with the tasks you need doing.
  • Stove/grill- Definitely the most important element when it comes to operating and running a food truck, a stove or a grill is the most important appliance that one can have in the truck. It is where you get to cook your food for sale. Though some can argue that one can use the microwave for cooking food, but the stove/grill really defines the food truck as it is somewhat the quintessential equipment of a proper food truck business.
  • Blenders/ other food processors- Whether you also sell other kinds of food or are into going the extra mile for your customers, your food truck could also use other appliances like high power blenders to make shakes and smoothies, and high quality food processors. You might ask yourself: just what is the best food processor in the market doing in a food truck? Well, if doing more than expected is your thing, you get to process your own food like grind your own meat and even make fresh smoothies.
  • Steam tables- Steam tables, though not exactly a must for food trucks, can be very useful for business as they help much in keeping the food warm and away from possible ants or insect attacks. Steam tables are doubly as useful when you do not really have a microwave nearby.

The food truck industry is on the rise and many people are now jumping on the bandwagon. If you want to start your own food truck business or just plainly fascinated about them, you should familiarize yourself with the kind of trucks these food trucks are inside and out- knowing their equipment is of utmost importance.

 

Food Trucks & More!

TacoFino

Food trucks are a great way to sample the local offerings of a city. You’re guaranteed in most cases that the food you are receiving out of a food truck is fresh and uses local ingredients. Often times even, food trucks provide a look into the culture of a city, even if a bit skewed. An example of this is ‘Tacofino,’ out of Vancouver Island, BC. Although their main menu items are essentially Mexican, the ingredients used are very much local and the menu items have a local flare associated. You might be ordering a “taco,” but the fillings are locally sourced and use seafood which are available in the local area such as salmon or other seafood options.

Introducing Craft Beer!

The food truck movement however has created a much larger movement which includes beverages as well. As food truck festivals are becoming increasingly more popular; offering multiple food truck options, shared seating and beverage options. Often times these beverage options include micro-breweries who will join the festival to provide festival attendees a cold beer to be paired with their food truck purchases. In Vancouver, this is especially significant as the city itself is home to over 50 individual micro-breweries.

The addition of the micro-breweries provides the festival a great atmosphere and on our most recent visit to the Vancouver Food Truck festival, we were excited to try a variety of local offerings. For those who don’t know, craft breweries AKA micro-breweries are becoming increasingly more popular. Typically, the same type of person who enjoys the local offerings of a food truck are also interested to support a local brewery.

One of the vendors we met at the festival actually provides its customers Vancouver brewery tours wherein they take a group of people to a variety of breweries around the city to both sample a variety of beers and learn about the brewing process. Providing safe transportation, we were excited about the idea of a company who wants to show off local breweries and helping people to understand the hard work that goes in to creating a quality local product.

As food truck festivals continue to become more popular, it’s great to see other local business getting involved to provide local offerings to attendees. Micro-breweries in particular provide a great atmosphere at these festivals as well which ultimately creates additional business for the food trucks as well.

French Fries – Food Truck Special!

 

food truck fries

Thanks to Caribb for this pic of food truck fries!

Nowadays every dish is going through the phase of innovation and modernization. So why eat French fries in the same old traditional style? We eat with our eyes – to taste good it is a must that the food appears good! Pale yellow colored French fries can never reach the ultimate goodness of crisp and flavor. The traditional (delicious, yet borderline boring) recipe of fries was given a completely new flavor by food trucks when the surge of new trucks hit the streets. It is just amazing to witness the most delicious French fry creations made by food trucks.

With the addition of different ingredients and their flavor, you can also elevate a simple plate of French fries to something more appealing. With ideas from the many food trucks across the country, you can also create your very own street style French fries (shhh, don’t tell them we told you this!). If you don’t have a top deep fat fryer yourself, or are conscious about cooking with oil, you can also make oven-baked fries.

Things you’ll need for GOOD fries

  • Sea salt – as required
  • Peanut Oil/ Vegetable Oil/ Canola Oil – 2-3 liters
  • Russet Potatoes (scrubbed) – 4

Note: You can either peel off the skin or leave it and get more flavor, visual appeal and nutrition.

Recipe for Street Food Inspired French Fries

Wash 4 potatoes (peeling is a personal choice). Cut them from the middles, then into oval slices and sticks for frying. When cut in thick fry-sticks, dip them in a cold water bowl and leave them to soak for half an hour to get the starch out.

Dab them with a piece of clean towel to dry them off completely.

Heat a deep pan (or your fryer); pour in 2-3 liters of peanut oil (a lot of people pick fights about the best deep fryer oil, but there are more people behind peanut oil than anything else). Place the pot on the stove and let it heat until the temperature is 350-400 degrees F (or let your fryer warm up to this temperature).

Make three parts of chopped potatoes. To fry the first batch, let them simmer in oil for three minutes. Take them out as soon as they get brown or become crispy.

To drain off excess oil, place them on paper towels later, or use the scoop/basket in your fryer.

Repeat the same with remaining two batches of chopped potatoes.

Place all fried potatoes on paper towels and add salt to taste.

Different flavors and Add-ons!

This is where you get the chance to give the fries your personal touch and flavor them with creativity. Dipping sauces, seasonings and toppings all play important roles in giving them that signature food truck look and flavor. Here are a few add-ons you have to try:

  • Top your freshly made crispy fries with caramelized onions and pulled pork. To top up flavor, drizzle a little BBQ sauce. Consume. Enjoy.
  • Add on chili con queso, cilantro, pico de gallo salsa and sliced jalapenos. Much Mexican!
  • Sprinkle with sliced green onions, bacon bits and cheese crumbles. Baked potato style frites.
  • You can also create a unique garnish with fresh diced roasted garlic and parmigiano reggiano. Top it up with fresh parsley. Such intense flavors, wow.
  • Toss fries in garlic salt and chili powder. Add pepper cheese, a layer of cheddar cheese (grated) and chili. Kick it up a notch with black olives and tomatoes. Serve it with sour cream for the full shebang!

So there she be, some really slick ways for you to harness the innovative nature of food trucks in your own kitchen. Let us know what ones you try and give us a sample of your recipes!

DC Food Truck Infographic

Infographic’s are one of my favorite ways to share information. And what better information to share then an infographic dedicated to DC food trucks

DC Food Truck

This handy little image will show you the locations of where the trucks will setup, as you can see a lot of them setup downtown DC. If you’re hungry consider skipping out on the traditional restaurant (which is explained in this article) and come down enjoy some grub from the side of a truck and maybe make some new friends along the way. Food makes people happy, what better time to talk to co-workers, friends or even complete strangers then when you’re grinning from ear to ear with a fresh taco in your hand?

Why are food trucks so popular?

Food truck Festival 2011 026

Imagine a restaurant unlike any other, where you walk in the front door and are often met with a long line-up which is self-managed by the customers waiting. No ‘Wendy’s’ style turnstyles maintaining the line-up order, just a long untamed line-up of hungry people including yourself. In the restaurant itself, there are no tables or chairs to sit at; people who have ordered and received their food are standing awkwardly holding a paper plate trying to quickly finish what they have ordered before scurrying back off to work or to their next errand.

Imagine as well that this restaurant has zero climate control. If it’s cold and blustery outside, it seems as if the cold wind has found its way inside; no need to take your jacket off here. And vice-versa, if it’s the hottest of days, you can feel the sweat dripping off of you as you wait in that long line-up to order some food. Once you arrive up to the counter, you are greeted quickly by the same person who appears to also be helping cook the food, and are forced to order off a limited menu. When you have decided on your order, you must pay cash and wait patiently until whatever you ordered is yelled out to the crowd of hungry customers where you must make your voice heard to collect your meal.

Does it sound like somewhere you would like to eat? Probably not! However, in reality the food truck trend is exactly what is described above. Limited customer service, limited seating and a wait to receive your meal which can sometimes compete with the wait of a fine dining restaurant; only instead of sitting sipping wine, you’re standing in the elements sipping whichever non-alcoholic beverage is available.

So what makes food truck dining so popular? Personally, I love food truck dining but when I reflect, it’s hard to believe it has taken off to be so popular. As I reflect on this phenomenon, I come to realize that it is the ‘experience,’  and the food which makes the food truck so popular; not the customer service.

It is unlike anything else really. Unlike a restaurant, customers are encouraged to hangout and engage. Food trucks in reality help to build a community unlike a typical restaurant would. It diminishes the barriers that normal restaurants build between the actual creation of your meal and you enjoying it. Every thing that you could possibly order is prepared so as you order it, and the limited menu’s that food trucks have to provide, ensure that every item offered is brilliant.

Furthermore, food trucks have done a great job of working together to create food truck festivals and markets where a common seating area can be shared by the customers of an assortment of food trucks. Some food truck festivals even have live music, local breweries and other entertainment to bring the community out and enjoy the freshest possible food.

Food Truck Fest Move North!

Food truck festivals have been popping up in recent years all across the United States with overwhelming success. It seems that mixing great local food with live music and comfortable seating  is just what the doctor ordered as the festivals are often times selling out due to such high demand. As the food truck craze has swept most of the United States, the same thing has being happening north of the border in Canada. We geared up with our winter jackets to see what a food truck fest north of the border may look like and were we ever impressed.

The festival venue we attended was in the downtown core of Vancouver in a beautiful square outside of the historic city art gallery. There, 23 food trucks, live music and an abundance of seating was set up each day for 5 days, offering people both living and working in the downtown core an abundance of fresh, local and delicious dining options.

The Vancouver food truck festival which is in its third year is conveniently called ‘Street Food City III’ and has been a huge success for the past couple of years. The festival was open from 11-3pm Wednesday thru Friday while remaining open from 11am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Part of the festivals success has to do with the awesome location which is right in the heart of the downtown core in Robson Square. Lots of space for seating and live music gave the festival a fun and vibrant atmosphere as the smells from the parked food trucks oozed over the hungry crowd.

On the first day, we treated our taste buds to the highly anticipated Tacofino Food Truck which offers it’s diners a west coast take on tacos. Offering everything from traditional beef and chicken options to a variety of seafood selections, it was easy to sample a wide variety of different deliciousness. Our favorite were the seared tuna tacos which were served on a bed of seaweed salad and wrapped up with a light and somewhat crispy flour tortilla. Top it all off with a wasabi aioli and you have perhaps the most tasty taco we have ever had.

The next day, we sampled the offerings from Vij’s Railway Express which is an Indian fusion food truck offering items based off of their extremely popular restaurant simply called ‘Vij’s.’ On the menu they have everything from spot prawn curries to lamb Kebobs. They also offer a variety of fresh beverage options which are truly amazing including the Lemon Ginger drink which was our favorite.

Among the other notable vendors which we enjoyed was ‘Mom’s Grilled Cheese,’ which; you guessed it; serves a variety of grilled cheese options. Another of our favorites was the ‘Reef Runner,’ which had a fantastic take on a traditional Canadian dish offering a Jerk Chicken Poutine. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and one we will look forward to attending next year!