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“I didn’t know what to expect,” said city Councilman Don Fracassi, surveying the crowd. “This is just great. It’s a new concept, from 4-9 (p.m.) you don’t know if those are good hours. Everyone is having fun.”
The lighted signs for Fifth Third Bank and the University of Phoenix flashed on, but as the evening wore on crowds remained as steady as the balmy temperature. To the east, the sky darkened with the coming night, but to the west, the sunset was strewn with pink clouds, almost seeming to reflect Mayor Brenda Lawrence’s campaign to turn the town pink in October in reflection of Breast Cancer Month.
Councilman Jeremy Moss, the youngest of the council members, had already sampled a chicken taco, was headed for a Greek grilled cheese sandwich, after which he had his heart set on dark chocolate chocolate chip ice cream from the Treat Dreams truck, out of Ferndale.
His sandwich would be coming from the Green Zebra truck, which advertised having “New American Street Food.” Owner Katie Berschback of Troy proclaimed the event a success and said she would come again.
“It’s a fun, positive atmosphere,” she said, her eyes scanning the crowd. Berschback, who has had her truck for only 1 1/2 years, the phenomenon also seen in Royal Oak and Ferndale is a growing one. She said that three new trucks have entered the field in just the last two months.
Sitting, grinning and soaking up the music was Tim Yow, an ambassador for the Southfield Chamber of Commerce.
“This is a great turnout,” he said. “There is really good food and I met a lot of good people.”
By 8 p.m., the band finished its set and turned the stage over to a DJ, but not before a toddler in pink and white footed pajamas, too young perhaps to hop or rock, caught the beat anyway and became a human spring.
Meanwhile, the crowd started to thin as 8 p.m. rolled around, and it was time for Yow to move on.
“This helps paint Southfield in a good light,” he said. “It shows that Southfield is personal.”
Dessert ruled at Trucktoberfest.
Hoboken-based Waffle de Lys nabbed Top Truck and Most Seductive Sweet honors at the food truck event at Monmouth Park in Oceanport today, while The Outslider won Best on a Bun and the Peoples’ Choice award.
”In Europe, when I would go skiing, I used to see all these waffle stands,” said Olivier Dunan, co-owner of Waffle de Lys. “I said, ‘I have to bring this to America.’ ”
Trucktoberfest, the fall version of the Jersey Shore Food Truck Wars, the state’s pre-eminent food truck event, drew about 10,000 people to Monmouth Park on a picture-perfect fall day.
Any doubt there is a burgeoning food truck scene in the Garden State was dispelled by Jon Hepner, co-owner of Aroy-D, the Thai Elephant Truck.
Hepner, Carlos Serrano (the Empanada Guy) and Jason Cervone (The French Quarter) are in the process of forming the New Jersey Food Truck Association.
Hepner recently returned from a food truck owners gathering in Portland, Ore., and said operators are banding together and working across the country to change laws restricting food trucks.
Another sign of the growing food truck presence in Jersey were the two big winners – both Waffle de Lys and the Outslider started operating this year.
The quality of ingredients was readily apparent in the two waffles – one with a raspberry coulis, the other with salted caramel, both with homemade whipped cream – that Waffle de Lys entered in the competition.
The chocolate is from Belgian, the caramel and coulis from France. The peanut butter? That’s about the only thing from the U.S.
“Every element worked perfectly together to create a fusion of flavors that danced perfectly,” said judge Meredith Schwarzber.
In other categories, El Lechon de Negron won the Ethnic Excellence award for its roasted pork with Spanish rice and peas and maduros (soft sweet bananas}.
Freezy Freeze won Cutting Edge honors for its German chocolate cake ice cream – chocolate ice cream with shaved coconut, sweet and spicy pecans and caramel.
The ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen, which makes for a creamier product, said co-owner Andrew Deming.
And the Morris Grilled Cheese truck, which earned Top Truck honors at the Jersey Shore Food Truck Wars over the Memorial Day weekend, won the Guiltiest Pleasure Award for its Delicate Cheese grilled cheese sandwich.
“Awesome,” said judge Justine Ma, of the Little Miss Local food blog.
The Outslider’s Black Forest burger, the Best on a Bun winner, was perfectly cooked and seasoned, drawing raves from the judges.
The Newark-based truck is another food truck biz newcomer – it’s been operating since March. Owner Bob Leahy built the truck himself, from an unusual platform.
“It’s an old RV,” he said. “We kept the bathroom.”
It didn’t win an award, but the “bisque-o fries” from Bacon on Wheels had judge Michele McBride, of 90.5 The Night, reaching for more and more of truck operator Jimmy Veena’s creative take on the late-night diner favorite.
Other trucks included the Surf Turf Truck; Cupcake Carnivale; Hibachi Heaven, the Empanada Guy, Pizza Vita, Ahh! La Cart, Fork in the Road, Tony’s Sausage, Dark Side of the Moo and Amanda Bananas.
Little Rock– Main Street enthusiasts will find the third Main Street Food Truck Festival scheduled for Saturday, October 5 the best one yet, say organizers. “Not only do we have an exciting festival planned, we are excited to show this year’s attendees the difference a year can make on Main Street!” said Sharon Priest, executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.
The 2013 downtown Little Rock festival will span four city blocks offering street eats from 25 food trucks and food carts, craft selections from 25 Etsy Little Rock vendors, local bands and musicians, a Heifer International Children’s Plaza, street performers and three well stocked beer gardens selling the coldest brew in town!
Attendees can enjoy the festival activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Main Street will be blocked off from 3rd to 7th streets. Entrance to the festival is free. A television will be set up to catch any of the day’s sports activities and two radio stations will broadcast live—Heather Brown of Alice 107.7 and Broadway Joe of Power 92.3, each with live call-ins and giveaways.
Priest noted, “In an effort to make it easier for attendees and volunteers, we will not sell food and drink tickets this year.”
Downtown Little Rock Partnership organizers anticipate the festival to bring thousands of people to Main Street, a goal of its Main Street Revitalization Committee. The first year’s event brought 4,500 people and, while rain and thunderstorms disrupted the 2012 event, 2,700 loyal food truck fans still attended (in the rain
For more Main Street Food Truck Festival information call 501-375-0121. Become a fan on Facebook of Main Street Food Truck Festival – Little Rock for updates, conversation and parking locations or go to www.downtownlr.com. Twitter hashtag for the event is #foodtrucksrock.
The lines have been out the door and down the street the last two nights at the new Torchy’s Tacos on West 19th Street and Ashland at the site of the old Harold’s in the Heights location. But tonight, the plan is to have lines all over the place as the Shop Heights 19th merchant association will have their semi-regular Food Truck Friday event.
Food Truck Friday will go tonight, Friday, from 5-9 p.m. and include offerings from eight trucks — The Golden Grill, Bernie’s Burger Bus, Happy Endings, H-town StrEATs, Texas Blizzard Shave Ice, Flip ‘n Patties, Koagie Hots, Coreanos Houston — placed up and down the block west of Yale and east of Shepherd.
Far from the old days as a sleepy street filled with antique stores and not much else, West 19th is now a diverse marketplace filled with, yes, antique shops, but also modern and vintage clothing stores (among the best in Houston according to many more knowledgeable about these things than me), more than a dozen full-time and award-winning restaurants (if you include Down House over on West 18th and Yale, and really, when it take two minute to walk there from West 19th, why not include it?), design shops, art galleries, gift shops and soon, the Heights General Store and Marketplace, sharing the Harold’s space with Torchy’s.
Oscar Martin Carter and D.D. Cooley, the original 19th-Century founders of the Heights, foresaw West 19th as the City of Houston Heights’ downtown, the center of the nascent town’s commercial life. Looking over the street these days, there are perhaps more alcohol sales than they might have wanted (Hey, they were 19th Century men after all), but it’s hard to deny that the bustling marketplace would not make them smile.
Food Network viewers know Sam Swaleh as a member of the Tikka Tikka Taco team on “The Great Food Truck Race,” but Sacramento-area residents are getting to know Swaleh as a used car salesman.
Swaleh, who appears in all seven episodes with his nephews Shaun and Michael Swaleh, told me that everyone in his family, regardless of age, knows how to cook and that food is what brings his family together. The finale of “The Great Food Race” will air Sunday at 6 p.m., and the show typically brings in about 2 million viewers.
“It wasn’t about being first or second (in each episode), it was about surviving week after week,” Swaleh said. “Now we are one of three trucks left. We are in the finale, in the final three. We make the final cut to two, us and the Aloha (Plate) guys.”
The winner will receive a food truck worth $100,000 and $50,000 in startup capital. The trucks on the show were all leased. Win or lose, Swaleh said, his family will one day get a food truck rolling.
Before landing a spot on “The Great Food Race,” Swaleh was a real estate agent in Dallas. But he had lived for 20 years in the Bay Area before moving to Texas. Most of his extended family lives in the Sacramento region, and he and his brother Ali Swaleh had decided it was time he join him in Rocklin and open a used car dealership. Swaleh Motor Sales, based at 4121 Citrus Ave., No. 7, is starting small, with just 30 cars. Most sales come from cars.com or via referral.
“We are not a retail car lot,” Sam Swaleh said. “Most of our sales are based on Internet and referrals. We have a warehouse that can hold about 30 cars that we pull in every night. In the daytime, we have five to seven parking spaces to leave our cars out.”
Business is poppin’
Erika Benavides opened The Popcorn Store at 9679 E. Stockton Blvd. five years ago to give her neighbors in Elk Grove a taste of the gourmet popcorn that she grew up eating as a kid.
Before she knew it, people were driving from as far as San Francisco and Reno to buy her gourmet popcorn. Now she and her husband, David Benavides, are opening a second store at 6819 Lonetree Boulevard in Rocklin.
“I grew up in Nebraska,” Erika Benavides said. “I had a friend whose father’s name is Vic Larsen, and he opened a popcorn store back there called Vic’s Corn Popper. Thirty-some years later, Dave and I went back, and … we took training from Vic. Since he knew me, he shared all his trade secrets and recipes with us. So we brought it out here, and we were Vic’s Corn Popper up until about a year-and-a-half ago.”
They had to change the store’s name because Larsen had sold the rights to it to a food conglomerate, and it wouldn’t let them use if they didn’t stock all its specialty snacks.
Despite the fact that the Benavideses opened their store amid the economic downturn, they achieved profitability within a year. Sales grew by about 33 percent a year for the first three years and rose by 20 percent last year.
Neither Erika nor David work in their store. She’s a firefighter with the Sacramento Fire Department, and he’s a nurse at Sutter General.
Growing hair and sales
Suffering with ulcerative colitis, Rene Lesane searched everywhere for products that she could apply to her damaged hair to give it nutrients and make it healthy.
Hundreds of dollars later, she threw up her hands and started researching and developing products for herself. She created Shea butter hair lotion and coconut hair milk. After using them faithfully, her neighbors and friends began asking her what she was doing. They begged her to let them buy her products, and when their friends asked them what they were using, they pointed them in Lesane’s direction.
Lesane launched Komaza Hair Care in mid-2007. She brought her friend of 31 years, Jennifer Taubodo, on as a minority partner in October 2008 because orders were skyrocketing. Her online business now ships hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products from Sacramento to every state in the nation and to Canada. Lesane chose the name “Komaza” because the word means “encourage growth” in Swahili.
“We mainly focus on hair growth, creating products to put on your hair to optimize your hair growth,” Lesane said. “That’s our main focus, growing hair, so we have products like HLS, Hair Lengthening Serum. … You actually put it on your scalp and it encourages your hair to grow.”
So many African American women are experiencing hair loss because of the use of chemical processing and hair extensions, Lesane said, that she wanted to help them. She also does hair analysis, putting strands under a special microscope and sending the customer both pictures of the damage and suggestions on appropriate products.
Her least expensive product is a scalp conditioner, $8 for 4 ounces, and her most expensive one is a hair-growth formula known as The Stinky Stuff, $50 for 4 ounces. Although the product smelled awful when it was formulated, lemongrass and other natural herbs now mask the scent. It’s all sold at www.komazahaircare.com.
Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee.
Pork Belly’s, the newly opened sandwich shop in Venice, is joining the food truck scene. The restaurant, known for its thick sliced pork belly sandwiches, sloppy Joes, sloppy tater tots and fried pickles, will be dishing out its signature dishes from the new truck in front of the restaurant’s Venice location from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday. If you show up and mention the code “food truck,” you’ll receive a free order of pickles. The truck will make its way around Los Angeles after the initial launch. 1146 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (424) 777-8875, http://www.porkbellysla.com.
The first ever All Star Mixology Competition will take place Thursday at Unici Casa in Culver City. From 7 to 10 p.m., mixologists from around the city will take part in a special cocktail event and showcase their technical skills and creativity before a panel of judges that includes Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark of the Cooking Channel’s “Classy Ladies”; Liza Pano from Paramount Pictures; Meridith May of The Tasting Panel; and more. Guests will be able to taste cocktails from L.A. bars, with sips from The Spare Room, Shore Bar, Akasha and more. Tickets are $75 and available for pre-sale at CovenantHouseCalifornia.org. All proceeds will benefit the Covenant House California, an organization that works with the homeless, at-risk and trafficked youth. 9461 Jefferson Blvd. Culver City.
The Belvedere restaurant at The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills will hold its first Kosher wine dinner Oct. 10. Executive chef David Codney will prepare a five-course dinner with Kosher wine pairings from the Flam Winery in Israel and the Baron Herzog Wine Cellars in California. Courses include smoked white fish fritters with a Flam Blanc 2012 and Baron Herzog Chennin Blanc, Clarksburg 2012; A seared striped bass with Herzog Chardonnay, Prince Vinard, Clarksburg 2011 and Herzog Chardonnay, Special Reserve, Russian River 2011; A braised veal cheek with the Flam Merlot Reserve 2010 and the Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2011 and more. The evening begins at 6 p.m. Reservations are required. Dinner is $135 per person. A Kosher meal can be prepared to accompany the wines with advance request. 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 975-2736, Peninsula.com.
Have a favorite food truck? It’s time to vote for it now, as Trucktoberfest gets ready to rock at Monmouth Park today.
Your vote is important – it will count toward the prestigious People’s Choice award that will be awarded at the end of judging tomorrow.
Online voting closes at 3 p.m. today.
Trucktoberfest, the fall edition of the state’s premier food truck event, will offer the usual delicious, dizzying array of four-wheel fare.
Morris Grilled Cheese and Bacon on Wheels will be back to defend their judges’ and peoples’ choice awards from the Memorial Day weekend event, and such popular trucks as Aroy-D, Cupcake Carnivale, Empanada Guy, French Quarter and Red Hook Lobster will offer high-end eats and compete for top honors.
Other participating trucks include Ahh! La Cart; Amanda Bananas; Dark Side of the Moo; El Lechon de Negron; Fork in the Road; Four Boys; Freezy Freeze; Hibachi Heaven; Jersey Johnny’s Grill; Kona Ice; Max’s Hot Dogs; The Outslider; Pizza Vita; the Surf Turf truck; Tony’s Italian Sausage, and Waffle de Lys.
There will be a German beer garden, and an oompah band will provide entertainment. All patrons wearing lederhosen receive free grandstand admission.
And the Munchmobile and its driver/reporter will be on hand; it’s never too early to drop off those applications for a ride on the Big Dog next summer!
Trucktoberfest will be held from 11:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is $4; grandstand admission is $3. Children 12 and under are free.
Monmouth Park is located on Oceanport Avenue in Oceanport, just off Exit 105 of the Parkway. For more information, call (732) 222-5100 or visit monmouthpark.com.
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Colin Fukunaga has cooked for millionaires and CEOs. He’s met celebrities and done catering inside mansions.
Sunday, though, will mark one of the highlights of his culinary career. That’s when Fukunaga and his pals will drive a rented food truck into the players lot at the Oakland Coliseum, and prepare 300 burgers for the Washington Redskins.
“Basically it’s a boyhood dream come true,” Fukunaga told me recently. “Everybody knows the NFL. I was telling my [employees], this is like the pinnacle. Besides the White House, this is the most talked about company you will ever do. This is a huge opportunity for a freaking food truck.”
This is a wacky story, so you’ll have to stick with me for a while. Fukunaga, 42, is a Fairfax County native, a former starting fullback at Robinson High who grew up a Redskins fan. He’s been in the restaurant business for 22 years, and launched his Las Vegas “Fukuburger” food truck in 2010, mixing West Coast burger sensibilities with Japanese flavors.
A close friend of his played high school football with Redskins guard Chris Chester, whom Fukunaga met several times and became friends with. Chester, unbeknownst to me, is something of a foodie, and became a big fan of Fukunaga’s product; he and ex-teammate Marshall Yanda “ate about 10 burgers apiece” the first time they visited Fukunaga’s truck.
“When can we do that Fuku party for the Redskins O-line?” Fukunaga asked Chester over Twitter last winter.
“My fellow Hogs would dominate some Fukuburgers with a great deal of pleasure,” Chester responded. “We gotta make it happen.”
After serving as a celebrity judge at a food truck competition in Vegas, Chester told Fukunaga that he’d love for the chef to feed the Redskins at some point.
“Yeah, whatever. I don’t know how that’s going to happen,” Fukunaga remembered thinking. “I grew up in D.C., but I don’t see how I would get my food truck there.”
So Chester suggested he serve the team after a West Coast road game. They looked at the schedule, and Chester suggested this Sunday’s Raiders game. Even that seemed sort of far-fetched.
Then Fukunaga got a phone call from Redskins Director of Football Operations Paul Kelly.
Next thing Fukunaga knew, he was sourcing a food truck in the Bay Area that he could use in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. (The food truck, whose owners he’s never met, have a clientele consisting largely of Raiders fans; they made Fukunaga promise not to reveal his truck’s every-day identity.) Chester would pay for the transportation costs for Fukunaga and three colleagues; they’ll fly in on Saturday, pick up their temporary food truck, and head to his friend’s seafood warehouse in San Francisco’s Pier 39 to do the prep work.
Kelly warned Fukunaga that he would only have an hour to feed 100 people after the game, and that it was doubtful anyone would have time for more than one burger. Remembering the damage Chester and Yanda did, Fukunaga decided to prepare for 300.
“They were pounding our food,” he recalled. “I literally thought I was gonna run out of food, just between those two guys.”
Fukunaga picked out three menu items: the No. 1 (an original Fuku burger with the Japanese cuisine-inspired Fuku sauce), the No. 2 (a Fuku patty with a fried egg and crispy onion strings on top), and the No. 6 (a hand-breaded, Panko-crusted Japanese chicken sandwich with Wasabi mayo). (To see the rest of the menu, go to Fukuburger.com.)
As for the timing, fret not.
“We did 200 people in 45 minutes last week,” he said. “That’s not an issue. It’s a huge opportunity for us, but we’re gonna bang this out.”
Fukunaga hopes to make it inside the stadium to watch the first half of the game. But for him, the bright lights come on after the television cameras have turned off, after the players have showered and the the reporters have cleared out of the locker room.
“The pressure’s on us then,” he said. “Chris is taking a chance on us; now we need to make him look good. He’s putting his trust in us to feed the team. I take food super seriously; this is a huge responsibility and honor for somebody to trust me to make something with my hands, and to put it in their body.”
ASHBURN, VA - Roaming Rotisserie, a virtuoso mobile kitchen, will start operations during Notaviva Vineyards in Purcellville for a central launch party. The lorry will underline cuisine prepared on a customized fire roasting rotisserie built onboard a vehicle.
Operator, Paul Miller, pronounced he’s vehement to move a new judgment to Loudoun County and Northern Virginia. “After being in a authorization grill business for some-more than 10 years, we wanted an event to be some-more artistic and have some-more control over a menu and guest experience,” Miller said. “We’re unequivocally looking brazen to bringing a new kind of dining to Loudoun County and a surrounding area. Rotisserie cooking is fun and tasty and a judgment of creation and portion from a mobile height is really unique.”
Stephen Mackey, co-founder and booze composer during Notaviva Vineyards adds, “We are anxious to see Roaming Rotisserie join Loudoun’s virtuoso community. With a success of Loudoun’s wineries and farm-to-table restaurants, some-more people have detected that a segment boasts some of a excellent culinary practice in a nation. Roaming Rotisserie’s prophesy of bringing a high peculiarity mobile charity to a segment is ideally in step with a stream momentum.”
The menu will underline signature dry burnished rotisserie chicken, porchetta, primary rib and a preference of specialty sides.
Miller pronounced he skeleton to attend a series of internal wineries, festivals, corporate and private events in sequence to assistance grow a new business venture. Customers can report events, accept updates and learn about arriving appearances by visiting their website at http://www.roaming-roti.com or apropos a supporter on Facebook and Twitter.
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