Who doesn’t love a food truck? Other than the restaurant owner across the street from one, anyway. They are fun, cheap and surprisingly inventive in the fare they offer. Still, like any food service operation, food trucks need to adapt to the oft-shifting dining scene lest they fall out of vogue. With this in mind, I present a proposed “next wave” of food trucks guaranteed to stay ahead of the curve for — at the very least — the next six weeks.
(Originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of Food & Dining)
Pass the Stuffing
It’s getting harder to set yourself apart these days. Every nation’s cuisine, from Abyssinian to Zulu, has been strip-mined and repackaged with their condiments eventually retired to the clearance aisles of World Market. (English candy? Who eats that stuff?) So, instead of focusing on a particular nation or mashing a few together for a sad fusion experiment, let’s take a different approach and zero in on the holidays. A Thanksgiving food truck can serve up candied yams, brined Bourbon reds and oyster dressing year-round. True, you run the risk of shanking and becoming the culinary equivalent of the year-round Christmas store, but hey, everybody likes leftovers, right?
I propose a food truck that offers comfortable seating as well as implements like spoons and forks. I know what you are thinking. “That’s a ‘restaurant.’” But this approach would alleviate the ugly fact that food trucks basically amplify the cocktail party conundrum — that awkward confluence where one tries to manage a drink, a small plate, and a fork with just two hands plus the added trauma of not having a trash can to throw it all into when you are done or give up trying.
MST Frymaster 3K
We all know that deep frying is both dangerous and smelly when done in the home. That is why I propose suspending a cauldron of boiling oil from the tow-hook of a repurposed wrecker and careening around town via requests from a mobile app, so that people can batter and fry their trial-size Snickers bars in the comfort of their own driveways. This actually inverts the business model of the English “chippy” (fish and chip shop) and as such would be manned by a Southampton longshoreman with an impenetrable accent who, as a plus, drives on the wrong side of the road. Ambulance-chasing attorneys could wrap the truck in ads to help offset insurance costs. This would be great for Easter and Halloween candy mop-up operations.
Finally, fish farms and food trucks come together in a recreational tour de force. An above-ground pool gets loaded onto a gooseneck trailer and stocked with brown trout and pulled by a Vintage airstream equipped with a line of personal Fry Daddys. You can rent Zebco rods and reels, catch your dinner and have it fried to order along with hushpuppies and a sweet southern slaw. This would be great for the Boat Show circuit or as a Bass Pro community outreach initiative.
The Cat Pantry
I didn’t Google this before writing about it for fear that this already exists either in New York or Portland, Oregon, but we all know it is only a matter of time before food trucks start catering to pets. From a business standpoint, it’s golden (retriever). The margins are terrific, and anything that spoils can get repackaged in the “Canine Cassoulet” line of prepared dog foods. It might even be able to sidestep zoning regulations since it can park in front of dog runs and Petco without having to worry about being ticketed or chased off by an irate Quiznos owner. The specials practically write themselves: Bring your own bowl and get 10% off; Frisky Hoarders go bonkers at Singles Night for Cat Owners; Heartworm Pills offered as a $10 add-on to Baloney Cone. So, the question becomes, “What celebrity chef will lend his or her star power to a marketing launch?” I’m guessing Rachel Ray.
What is more exotic than South Korean food? North Korean food. Well, at least the latter is far more scarce. But not anymore. Introducing Kim Jong-Yum, the Dear Leader’s first foray into decadent Western pig-dog dining. He aims big with this one as it is housed in a repurposed 48-wheel ICBM missile transport truck. It has seating for up to 20 weak and undisciplined American dotards. After enjoying some delicious DPRK government ration soy crackers as an amuse bouche, diners move on to an appetizer of mentally deranged pork buns and a main course of super-large heavy shrimps served on a salad of shredded United Nations resolutions. Guests are permitted to leave after a short (2 year) indoctrination program. Bitcoin is the preferred method of payment.
The Carbon Bar
Portland, Oregon can arguably reclaim the leading edge of food cart innovation here with the first restaurant-based solution to global climate change. Diners begin by taking a small survey about their driving habits and lifestyle choices, which generates a carbon offset figure that measures their selfishness to within-a-gram accuracy. Next, the requisite amount of carbon is mixed into a millet and alfalfa grain bowl with gogi berries, and the diner must complete the meal within 20 minutes or face arrest. Kimbal Musk has already contributed $1B in startup equity for the concept.
Like you, I can’t wait to see what is around the bend with the next wave of food trucks. Forget funnel cakes and sliders; this movement has gone beyond the carnival fare and has entered the realm of Serious Eats. Just come hungry. And bring Bitcoin. F&D