Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Food Truck Facts

This past weekend, I chaired the International Fair at my sons' school and enlisted some area food trucks to participate:

El Sur's menu.
Photo credit: I Left My Cart in San Francisco

1) El Sur
The charming, elegant El Sur food truck showed up 90 minutes before the start of the event to begin baking their incredible Argentinian empanadas. Based on their recommendation, I sampled the Traditional (hand-cut beef, onions, pimenton, hard boiled egg, olives, oregano) and Parisien (chopped prosciutto and country ham, scallions, chives, five cheeses) varieties. They were amazing - savory, melty and complex. El Sur also offered dulce de leche-filled churros, but I didn't sample that. Here's a review of El Sur from I Left My Cart in San Francisco.

Photo credit: Silicon Valley Food Trucks
2) MoBowl
I love these guys! They've been at our school events before and they are always a hit. For our family, I ordered the Five-Spice Pulled Pork rice bowl and the Umami Tofu brown rice bowl to share. The person behind me ordered Cheesecake Egg Rolls. Here's a review of MoBowl from
Silicon Valley Food Trucks.

Dosa Republic.
Photo credit: Dosa Republic
3) Dosa Republic
These guys are awesome. Like MoBowl, these guys have been to our school events before. I was too full to order any food from them but next time, I think I'd like to try their Old Delhi Lamb dosa made with Bombay potatoes, egg and halal lamb. Here's a review of Dosa Republic from K
KQED's Bay Area Bites.

In planning the event, I learned a few things about food truck operators:

1) They are business-savvy. 
Successful food truck operators have carved out a distinctive niche for their offerings (e.g. cheesecake egg rolls) and need to make strategic decisions about when and where to show up. Before committing to your event and location, they need to know how many people are expected, what food preferences there may be and what other food options will be available.

2) They are social media-savvy. 
The most popular trucks have well-designed websites with full menu info, photos and contact information. They are active on Facebook and Twitter. 

3) They are community-minded. 
The food truck operators I contacted were happy to help our school when I told them we required at least a 10% donation of their sales to our school PTA. One vendor even offered 20%.

4) They have technical difficulties sometimes.
One of the vendors we scheduled almost didn't make it to our event; it had to be towed from San Francisco two days earlier. Another truck had problems with its cooling unit and wasn't able to clear health code inspection in time for our event. 

5) They are flexible and creative.
I supposed it's the nature of the business, but the food truck operators I spoke to were very accommodating. Knowing that the event I was planning was taking place at an elementary school, they each offered kid-friendly menu options.

No International Fair is complete without great food, so I'm so glad that El Sur, MoBowl and Dosa participated in our event. I'm already looking forward to the next one!

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