4/04/2013 10:17:00 AM
Get Ready for Toast Food Festival
By Malika Dalamal
If food festivals have replaced music festivals as the hottest tickets of the summer, here is one you won’t want to miss.
Toast – a celebration of food and ideas – is set to take place June 1-2 at the Red Gallery in Shoreditch. The weekend-long event will feature discussions, a food-photography workshop, tastings, urban foraging walks and a KERB street-food workshop. So far, confirmed participants include the Bompas Parr duo, Pitt Cue Co.‘s Tom Adams and food writer Fuchsia Dunlop.
And just like a rock festival, there will be an after-party – this one held at Rotary Bar Diner.
Tickets go on sale in April. Follow @Toast_Festival on Twitter for updates.
I am a roach coach fiend. I get my morning corn muffin and iced coffee from one just outside my office on 34th and Park. At lunch, I walk one block away from my office and grab a chicken and rice platter with the special white sauce and everything on it. And after work around 6, right outside the Port Authority, before I make my way into the station for my bus commute home through the Lincoln Tunnel into Hoboken, I frequently grab a hot dog as a pre-snack dinner from a third food cart.
(My girlfriend gets mad at me if I eat before dinner on days she makes a big meal. But by the time I get home and dinner is finally ready, I feel like a starved boy. She interrogates me if I don’t eat a full dinner, and I must lie that I am having stomach problems. It’s the only time I lie to her.)
But it was on a recent walk to work one morning on the corner of 38th and Fifth that I noticed another food cart that really made my day.
On the side panel just below the container filled with pink-and-blue packets of processed sugar was a sign that read, “Take a Smile (They’re free),” with smiley-faced slips of paper to take. Next to it read another sign, “Take What You Need,” with slips of paper for “Passion, Courage, Strength, Motivation, Forgiveness” — other options were apparently already taken. Coincidentally, I had no pocket change and decided to take a smiley face.
“I feel it’s my role to bring hope to people,” said the soft-spoken merchant when I asked him why he put up the signs.
If only we all had such roles.
The California-based chain, which counts the Dallas-Fort Worth area as one of its largest markets, will use its “rolling billboard” to give out free burgers in at least six North Texas events in April and May, including the Rangers’ home opener Friday in Arlington.
While some restaurateurs complain bitterly that food trucks are slicing off some of their sales, others have adopted a “if you can’t beat ’em” mindset.
“The ‘Burger Truck’ is … a great way to promote our brand,” said Brian Luscomb, a spokesman for Jack in the Box.
“Although we have nearly 190 locations in the D-FW area, participating in these kinds of events gives us an opportunity to go places where our guests are but our restaurants aren’t.”
There’s no question that food trucks are hot and are showing up at a lot more places than construction sites.
The National Restaurant Association says the “mobile caterers” segment of the industry is projected to post sales of $680 million this year, up from $654 million in 2012. That includes independently owned food trucks with a payroll, along with other mobile vendors.
It does not include sales from food trucks owned by brick-and-mortar restaurants, which are increasingly testing the waters.
Some chains have used food trucks as scouts, to beef up interest in the brand in areas where the chain is looking at potential expansion.
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A Inc. uses the Twitter handle @ChickfilaMobile to alert residents in the Washington, D.C., area, a growing market for the chain, about the truck’s latest location and offerings.
Richard Myrick is editor of Mobile-Cuisine.com and author of Running a Food Truck for Dummies.
He said Burger King, which also has a strong presence in North Texas, has used food trucks to “get the public to realize that they had changed their menu for the better.”
“I think it’s a great strategy,” he added. “You’re able to get your food out for taste tests.”
Where to find the truck
Jack in the Box’s North Texas burger truck stops include:
Rangers’ home opener: Friday, 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Six Flags over Texas parking lot.
Bon Jovi concert: April 11, 9:30 p.m. to midnight, American Airlines Center.
Dallas Stars-Vancouver Canucks: April 18, 9:30 p.m. to midnight, American Airlines Center.
SMU Founders’ Day: April 20, 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m., Southern Methodist University.
Bright Realty Golf Classic: May 6, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Lakes at Castle Hills, Lewisville.
Grand Prairie Airhogs-
Winnipeg Goldeneyes: May 18, 5 to 11 p.m., QuikTrip Park, Grand Prairie.
Crowne Plaza Invitational Youth Golf Clinic: May 20, 5 to 7 p.m., Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth.
Find the entire article by Karen Robinson-Jacobs at The Dallas Morning News here
EbaySuper-low 57,000 miles!On November 29, 2012, Epic Hot Dogs, a food truck serving weenies from all over the world (sorry), sputtered out after just over a year of being in the mobile-kitchen business.
But that doesn’t mean the torch of exhaust flames can’t be passed to another who dreams of taking their foodstuffs to the streets. And Epic owner Paul Cionczyk has been hoping to do that since late last year, when he put his food truck (and, if you want, the concept) up for sale. And then again in late January, when he put his food truck (and, if you want, the concept) up for sale on eBay.
“The season for food trucks is now,” the eBay description reads. “Make the most of it.”
Well, what are you waiting for, next great food-truck-concept person? All you need is (YOUR GUESS HERE) dollars.
Featuring “a custom build which has been built locally to Maricopa County standards,” a “powerful Chevy 454 V8 Engine,” low mileage (57,000), new equipment, and “a quality build which spared no expense,” the Epic food truck is listed at $54,999.
The price includes all the kitchen equipment in the truck as well but not the rights to use the Epic Hot Dogs brand (that’s an extra cost that is not disclosed, but the posting says it can be discussed with the right buyer).
Want more details or contact info? Go to the Epic food truck’s page on Ebay.
Japanese specialties, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, dogs, tacos, shakes and sweets; plenty to choose from at the food truck round-up at Coffee Buddha in Perrysville Saturday.
Led by the Pittsburgh Taco truck, customers were treated to delicious food under sunny skies (for a change!)
Did you go? What was your favorite food truck? Tell us in the comments box below.
Check out some of today’s
Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal
JACKSONVILLE — Anthony Hashem is the owner of one of the newest food trucks in Jacksonville, The Happy Grilled Cheese.
He’s been busy since he hit the road in late February with 60 varieties of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Beginning March 25, Hashem secured the Holy Grail of the food truck trade: two permanent weekday parking spaces adjacent to the Duval County Courthouse.
While food trucks are getting more popular, there are still some people who don’t get it, he said.
“Food trucks have devoted followers. But there are others who just stumble upon us and ask for chicken fingers, …
Christian covers banking and finance, insurance, retail and restaurants and law
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Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal
The Happy Grilled Cheese, one of Jacksonville’s newest food trucks, has a permanent weekday spot Downtown beginning today.
Anthony Hashem, who started The Happy Grilled Cheese in February, is now leasing two parking spaces at 218 Broad St., at the corner of Broad and W. Monroe streets next to the new Duval County Courthouse.
Hashem is the third food truck owner to have a more permanent Downtown location. On the Fly Sandwiches Stuff has been parked about one block away since July 2012 and La Petite Cheri Cupcakery joined in November 2012 at 655 W. Adams St., at the corner of Jefferson and Adams streets.
To see a sample of the menu options at The Happy Grilled Cheese, check on the food truck’s website.
Christian covers banking and finance, insurance, retail and restaurants and law
Latest microbrewery planned
by founder of Ottawa beer festivals
Brew pub to follow as early as 2014
MAR 24 13 – 12:01 AM — The man who brought us the first (and wildly successful) National Capital Craft Beer Week outside city hall in August, then another standing-room-only WinterBrewed festival on Sparks Street in February, plans his own lineup of commercial craft ales as early as summer — adding to the lively froth that in 10 years has placed Ottawa among the most welcoming markets for microbrewers in the province, if not the entire country.
He’s already incorporated the company and is working out exactly which brews he will start with. (Possible candidates will be tasted tonight and again Monday at a special five-course, seven-beer food and brew pairing dinner for members of Ottawa Beer TAP Society, also founded by Fournier, with dishes prepared by chef Colin Lockett at the Copper Pot Café, 610 Bronson Ave.)
Above L-R, at Broadhead Brewing Co., which will initially brew the new Turtle Island Brewing Co. beers this summer, is Turtle founder and beer aficionado J.P. Fournier, with Broadhead head brewer Jash Larocque and brewer Carney Kilian.
Regulatory approval is not expected to be a major obstacle, Fournier says, as Broadhead’s facility has been licensed to brew beer since it opened in November 2011.
Later, Fournier plans his own brew pub as early as summer 2014 at a prime location (to be determined) in the city, featuring custom food recipes where beer and/or ingredients used in brewing play an integral part in the menu.
As at Broadhead, Turtle Island is very much a basement beer-making hobby that, well, took on a life of its own.
Turtle Island founder J.P. Fournier, doing what he loves best.
A third-generation Métis by heritage, Fournier says the name honours a legend of Aboriginal Peoples where the Earth was created with soil piled on the backs of turtles. “To me the legend represents the use of natural ingredients to create something spectacular,” Fournier says.
“It reflects a reverence for heritage and tradition, while at the same time representing creativity where the final results exceed the sum of the ingredients. I don’t want to be pigeonholed to one style of beer, so to me Turtle Island can represent North American brews, or the entire world.”
Above, top, at the Ottawa Homes and Garden Show on Saturday, J.P. Fournier and fiancée Trish Watson. Bottom, Fournier shares with folks his enthusiasm for brewing.
“What I want is the ability to brew interesting beers using ingredients from around the globe,” Fournier says.
“I’ve been brainstorming for the last while, and while I’m very serious about beer I’m not so serious about myself. And that will be reflected in the beer — serious about the beer, but serious about having fun too. So we’re starting by brewing under contract at Broadhead, using my recipes and being very involved hands-on in the process.
“Although the beers are not yet finalized, my plan is to brew an ale with Ontario cherries, and maybe a cream ale with caramel. Another possibility is an interesting take on an old style like dark honey brown, or maybe a wheat beer with accents of mango. We’ll see.”
Readers may recall I blogged about Fournier back in June for a cover Food story heralding the Citizen‘s proud 15th Ode to Ale edition to celebrate Canada’s favourite beverage on Canada Day. At that time we discovered Fournier had formed his beer TAP society some two years earlier when he wanted a career change as a professional disc jockey and event co-ordinator. “I always wanted to be a chef,” Fournier says, “but realized it would have taken me too long to retrain.
“So I decided to get into brewing, which gives me the opportunity to be creative.”
Unfortunately, Fournier at the time didn’t much like the taste of beer, and had never brewed a drop in his life. So he waded into his research, reading everything he could about craft beer and sampling no small share of suds to educate his palate. In only six months, Fournier discovered he was rather good at home brewing — he won two awards in 2010 at the Toronto Home Brewing Competition.
Since then, his TAP Society has blossomed to well over 400 members, he created the first capital summer beer festival that attracted more than 6,500 beer aficionados last August, and a spinoff winter version in February was a similar success. Still, the dream of brewing his own commercial craft beer and eventually setting up a brew pub never left him.
Contracting the brewing process to a company like Broadhead isn’t too unusual — the model is used by HogsBack Brewing Company in Ottawa, for example, while it works toward establishing its own facility. It allows a newcomer like Turtle Island to brew according to its own specifications while establishing clients and market share before diving neck-deep into its own, potentially costly brewing operation.
Broadhead seems a natural fit, as it is one of almost a dozen local success stories where entrepreneurs followed their hops and their hearts, at times defying accounting logic.
Above, J.P. Fournier in the cold room with “bright” tanks at Broadhead.
Since its launch in November 2011, Broadhead has doubled its floor space and today produces 2,400 litres a week (still a drop compared to major regional/provincial breweries) — almost 10 times more than it started with. Where it began with six beers just two years ago, today Broadhead retains the original stable of six in addition to various seasonal specials for St. Patrick’s Day, among others. In December it hosted a national home brewing competition that attracted 130 entries from across Canada. It really is a success story that has taken off.
Of the original four Broadhead partners, one has since moved on to pursue other career interests leaving the original Josh Larocque (head brewer), Jamie White and Shane Matte. Joining them as two new partners are employees John Buist and Trevor Saunderson.
“We still have days when we cannot fill the shelves,” Larocque says. “Demand is very strong and has been growing ever since we started.
“We’re happily surprised. I’m still putting in 10- to 12-hour days, six days a week, but I’m a lot more used to it now and it doesn’t hurt as much,” Lorocque says.
“I think people realize there’s more to beer than what the big guys make and they want to experience different styles. At the moment we do not have immediate expansion plans, we just want to maximize the space we have. We still take the hands-on approach to brewing where we make our own equipment, we renovated the space ourselves. We built our own brewing equipment including the software that runs it. So we’re pretty much a do-it-yourself operation on steroids — a basement hobby that kind of got out of hand, in a good way.”
Despite some dozen craft brewers that have appeared locally in the last decade, Larocque is confident there’s still lots of room for newcomers like Turtle Island. “We share a sense of camaraderie with other brewers and we welcome someone like J.P. coming along. And for sure we’re happy to give him advice.
“We’re as interested in promoting craft brewing in general as we are in creating a successful business. Craft brewing only represents about five per cent of total beer sales, so there’s lots of room for everyone to grow,” Larocque says.
Says Fournier, now a tortoise among hares in the tiny microbrewing industry: “My assumption is that Ottawa is ready for beers that are off-the-wall.
“With products like Broadhead’s Wildcat Ale, which is really a different brew every time, it shows me Ottawa beer drinkers are excited by new things and aren’t afraid to drink outside the box.”
Fournier’s partner in the venture is financée Trish Watson. Potential investors can email him at email@example.com.
“I’m extremely excited about this,” Fournier says.
“Soon after I started brewing at home three years ago this quickly became my dream. Having produced the National Capital Craft Beer Week, and then WinterBrewed, and working with all these craft brewers, I’ve become kind of part of the industry.
“I guess I’m a little nervous about starting a project of this size — but it’s something I’m passionate about. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but anything to do with craft brewing isn’t really work to me. It’s enjoyable. It’s all part of learning and discovery.
“The sky’s the limit as I see it,” Fournier says.
“If you brew really great beer that is interesting and different then I think the Ottawa market is ready and willing to support you.”
My, these are good times for beer lovers in Ottawa!
It’s a Thursday evening just north of downtown Columbus, Ohio, an area not known for its dining options. Despite the threatening sky, several pioneers are setting up for dinner in a parking lot. Among them, a new business venture called “That Food Truck.”
Such mobile restaurants are the fastest-growing segment in the dining industry. It seems like everyone and their brother thinks it might be fun to cook and be your own boss in a repurposed delivery truck. But it is also risky business, with razor-thin margins and a fickle clientele.
Steve Concilla gave up a job in finance to run That Food Truck with his business partner, Dan Kraus.
“I had been doing [finance] for eight years and I had been looking to do something a little bit more adventurous,” Concilla said. “The finance gig was on its way out, I felt. It just wasn’t as fun as it used to be, so I figured why not try to make money doing something I love, which is eating.”
Despite the odds, Concilla and Kraus, who is trained as a butcher, were determined to give it a go. The two started dreaming about getting a food truck back in 2011. They found a used Fed-Ex truck and spent the next few months retro-fitting it for food service.
In early July, the two prepared for a test lunch to see whether customers liked the menu and whether they could make the offerings fast enough when a crowd formed. The temperatures spiking into the 90s came as a surprise.
“I learned that it is crazy-hot on food trucks,” Kraus said.
“I learned we have to prepare, prepare, prepare,” Concilla added.
But making their venture work depended on more than just cooking good food. In Columbus, these newbie businessmen got support from a nonprofit development organization called the Economic and Community Development Institute.
“We help them with the marketing aspect, we help them with social media, we help them with food safety, we also go out and network and find them locations to do their job, because essentially we get rewarded if they expand and are successful,” ECDI director of business development Steve Brady said.
The institute also provides a secure parking lot complete with electrical hookups, a kitchen with grease disposal and industrial-sized sinks, and — for Concilla and Kraus — cash. Having already sunk most of their savings and generous family loans into the truck, the two found themselves short. A $20,000 loan from ECDI covered the last-minute expenses.
In this hyper-trendy business, each new entry needs to have an angle to get noticed. For Concilla and Kraus, the hook is a seasonal menu from locally grown ingredients. A farm about an hour away from Columbus provides them with meat and eggs.
Before hitting the street, the two needed one key step: clearance from the Board of Health to operate. Unlike traditional restaurants, food trucks are heavily inspected on both the inside and outside.
Finally, it was time to find customers. Opening night was in the middle of July last year, and naturally there were some hiccups. The first few hours were slow in an area not well trafficked on a Saturday night, but for the duo, it was a learning experience.
“People said I can’t take the burger off the menu, no matter how labor intensive. I got to keep it on,” Kraus said of their menus that change seasonally.
Total for the first day: $187. “Not bad, I’ll take that,” Concilla said.
After a three-day test run last November, the grey and red Wholly Habañero food truck rolled down Campus Walk and parked near Trinkle last Monday, March 11. The truck will return to the same spot every Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. to serve up Mexican food that’s “Qdoba-level quality,” according to junior psychology major Erika Persil.
University of Mary Washington chef Bob Beaudry said his favorite menu item is the taco salad, which includes either pork, chicken or beef in a crispy shell with sides such as lettuce, guacamole, cheese, salsa, sour cream and tomatoes. The menu also features burritos, soft tacos and salad bowls. Chips and salsa are a popular side dish, according to Beaudry.
“You can definitely get a hearty meal here,” said Beaudry.
The food truck, part of UMW dining services, has a full kitchen inside, but the grills are not yet active.
“We prepare the ingredients at Seacobeck and then items are made to order on the truck for each student,” according to Kori Dean, general manager of Eagle Dining.
Students are already showing interest in the truck. Many have braved the cold March wind to stand outside and order lunch, despite the heated, indoor-dining options on campus.
“The burrito combo was really good,” said freshman psychology major Leanne Castellow, who went twice in four days.
One student said she liked Wholly Habañero because of the convenience factor, in addition to the quality.
“I’m able to stop by in between classes,” said freshman international relations major Jenna Aschenback, who lives in Jefferson Hall, which is just a short walk away.
Though the food truck frenzy seemed to have bypassed Fredericksburg, vendors have taken over bigger cities like Washington, D.C. Tracking websites such as foodtruckfiesta.com, as well as social media websites, such as Twitter and Facebook, show food truck locations in real time in the city so customers can find their favorite foods, which move around from day to day.
There are about 100 food trucks on any given day in the District, according to the Washingtonian. The trucks, which are boxy and often brightly colored, serve savory or sweet snacks that are as creative as the colorful mobile.
The Kimchi Barbecue Taco truck sells a unique Mexican and Korean blend of burritos with bulgogi (beef) and kimchi slaw tacos. Captain Cookie sells hand made ice cream sandwiches and cocoa cayenne espresso cookies.
Though Wholly Habañero does not concoct crazy combinations, the truck does stand out, with the bright red letters of the name and “gracias por su visita” written on the side, as well as on the menu.
“I like the flash of it,” said junior and math major Marco Levine after placing his first order.
Even though a tracking application is not necessary for the time being, Wholly Habañero might start showing up at school events, beginning this summer, to sell to crowds, according to Eagle Dining employee Richard Gustard.
“It’s a trend right now,” said Gustard, “and UMW is picking up on that.”
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