Chef – Premiering in Select Cities This May

April 18th, 2014

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                                                                             (photo credit: Robert Fisher; Food & Wine)

 

 

Creative integrity… or money? Creative integrity…  or money? The artistic, illusive genius within every man struggles to navigate this quandary adeptly.  In Chef, a SXSW 2014 festival favorite, writer and director, Jon Favreau, plays a gourmet chef who has chosen to quit his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant to start his own food truck in Miami.

 

From Iron Man to iron pan, Carl Casper, played by Favreau, teams up with Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.), his friend (John Leguizamo), ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), and Molly (Scarlett Johansson) to rediscover and share his passion for food, life, and love.  He even brings his son along for the ride, whom John Leguizamo teaches to put corn starch on his balls to help with the humidity.  The family dynamic brings another element of humor and layer of emotional depth that promotes the importance and centrality of food within our lives… and to not take life too seriously!

 

According to Food and Wine’s, How Jon Favreau Learned To Cook For His New Movie, Favreau teamed up with F&W Best New Chef, Roy Choi, the founder of the Koji food truck empire and several popular Los Angeles restaurants, as an exercise in method acting in order to learn the ins and outs of gourmet cooking and working on a food truck.  ”Massage it even stronger, Jon,” says Choi. “Like you’d massage octopus?” Favreau asks. “Exactly,” says Choi. “Just like an octopus.” Food and Wine is able to capture the soul of the film – a mixture of lighthearted quips, serious culinary undertakings, and the art of living a life well-lived.  The article explains “as Favreau learned how to cook, he also learned how to eat,” and how the mastery and joys of cooking and filmmaking became one.

AMAZEBOWLS: Grab Life By The Bowls

April 17th, 2014

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with Bryan Leong and Desmond Ng, owners of Amazebowls food truck, who gave me the low-down on why their nutrition-packed acai (ah-sigh-ee) bowls make a much better post-yoga snack than that frozen yogurt you just “rewarded” yourself with.  Or anytime snack for that matter… really, they’re delicious.  I’m a sucker for anything topped with granola.

 

Bryan and Desmond, two young University of Southern California graduates (fight on!) decided to jump ship from there backgrounds in finance to start Amazebowls after Desmond tried his first acai bowl on a trip to Santa Barbara. Now, with their truck and a storefront set to open in July, they agree that starting a food truck “teaches you a lot more than business school.”

 

But Bryan and Desmond aren’t done with their educational careers just yet; they are on a mission to inform the public on healthy eating practices without having to sacrifice taste.  They deliver the detoxifying nutritional benefits of the Brazilian acai berry and other fresh fruits and super-foods in an affordable, healthy, and delicious way.  Their bowls are vegan-friendly, dairy-friendly, soy-free and made with “100g of love” as they like to put it.

 

Desmond and Bryan are very passionate and mindful of the quality and preparation of their product and it shows – their meticulously and uniquely prepared icy fruit puree sets them apart from other simple “acai smoothies with granola on top.”

 

 

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(photo credit: https://twitter.com/Amazebowls)

 

 

How did the Amazebowls truck come to be? Why did you choose to focus on acai bowls?

Desmond- “It was really hard to find good acai bowls in LA, basically, so we started making them at home and got really good at it, and found there was a market for it.”

 

Bryan- “There’s not many things that are healthy and affordable. Its typically very expensive, or it doesn’t taste very good, or you’re uncomfortable what you’re eating because you don’t know what’s inside. We wanted to do a concept that fulfilled three things: it good for you, affordable, and delicious; all in one.”

 

Desmond- “That’s why we call it the Amazebowls.”

 

Bryan- “We want to be that stepping stone for people to transcend to what’s a healthier lifestyle… I never used to be a very healthy person, but this was one of the first things I was like, ‘wow, I cant believe im enjoying this and its vegan’.”

 

Desmond- “Once you have better health – better living – all other aspects of your life  get better as well. That’s the whole point of our motto, ‘grab life by the bowls’ – getting our customers to live life to the fullest.”

 

 

What challenges have you faced?

Bryan – “(Chuckling) too many… nearly every new food truck owner in LA that we’ve talked to has been shouted at by someone [a restaurant] on Abbot Kinney.”

 

Bryan – “Because we are a healthy truck many people don’t know about, people are unfamiliar of the concept of acai bowls; a lot of people stay away because they want to stick to what’s familiar – that’s our biggest challenge – educating people that something healthy can come out of a truck.”

 

  

So what are the health benefits of acai bowls?

Bryan – “The acai berry is a berry from Brazil. I’ts known as a super-blueberry that has a lot of antioxidants in it. Antioxidants help give you extra energy, keeping you naturally healthy. When you pluck it from the tree it dies within 18-24 hours, which is why it’s so expensive, because the nutritional value goes away… our acai is freeze dried as soon as its plucked in Brazil.”

 

 

What is the blending process like?

Desmond – “It’s much more complicated than that, its not like Jamba Juice. There’s a fine line between a perfect blend and an overblend… if you don’t blend right, it’s not going to be good. You’re doing almost 300 bowls a day, its really easy to push out just an ok product because you’re so tired, but that’s why we really make sure to put in a lot of care.”

 

“The blenders that we use you can actually make soups in. The longer you blend it the more ‘watery’ it gets. When we first started, we tested out 12, 13 blenders. Even the order of the fruits matter. Different fruits have different textures which depends what you put in first.”

 

Bryan and Desmond- “Other places don’t know a lot about the blending process. People prefer us because we can produce something that’s kind of similar to frozen yogurt, but its very good for you, and you don’t have dairy in it… every ingredient has a specific purpose; if its not the texture, it’s the amount of nutrition, we got very scientific with it when we first started. We even wanted to look at the calorie count. The base alone is only 200 calories. And it keeps you full too!”

 

 

Any future plans for Amazebowls?

Bryan – “We are the type of people who always want to improve, we’ve got so many plans for the future. We’re actually opening a store in July.”

 

Bryan & Desmond – “We really want to showcase what we’re about with the store. It’s hard in the food truck because everything is behind closed doors for the most part. But in the store we are going to make a lot of our toppings in-house – flaxseeds, bee pollen, chia seeds, more fruit – we’re going to make our own almond milk, cashew butter, almond butter, we even want to grow our own mint leaves. We also want to do a huge granola wall.

 

“We make the customer comfortable because they can see exactly what they are eating being blended right in front of them… its not like McDonalds where you don’t know what’s in your hamburger bun. We want our customers to feel good.”

 

(photo credit: https://twitter.com/Amazebowls)

Vestal Village | Coachella

April 16th, 2014

Take a quick drive Southeast of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, and you’ll arrive at Vestal Village– an uber-hip four-day music and pool party. Over 600 campers staying in tents and RVs roamed the festival 24/7, with additional party-goers attending Friday through Sunday, noon to 6p. 

 

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Wicked Kitchen food truck, the exclusive food vendor, served over 11 different menus over the course of the weekend (breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-nite).

 

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Majestic Home Goods outfitted the lounge area with bean bags and lounge chairs.

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Huge thanks to Vestal Village… can’t wait for next year!

SAVE THE DATE! – LA STREET FOOD FEST

April 16th, 2014

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(photo credit: http://lastreetfoodfest.com/)

 

 

The LA Street Food Fest is back! This June the Los Angeles Rose Bowl will see hundreds of vendors, ranging from a band of food trucks to cocktails and ice cream.  Rest assured, there will plenty of street food options sure to please any local foodies’ palate.

 

The festival brings a sense of community to LA’s (street) food scene by acting as a platform for independent small business owners.  There is no better way to feel the soul of a city than by experiencing and eating its unique street food. The protocol is All You Can Eat, so it’s the perfect time to show off your jeggings or that pair of shorts with the elastic-band waistline that you’re still holding onto from the 90s.  While the list of vendors for 2014 has yet to be announced, you can see the array of participants from 2013 here.

 

Not to mention, between the Sky’s Gourmet Tacos and George’s Greek gyro sliders, there is a charitable underbelly that gives back to local organizations. A portion of the proceeds will go to local businesses, like the original philanthropic food truck, St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, who delivers life-saving meals and warm greetings to hungry seniors, the disabled, and home-bound ill adults across Los Angeles (2013). So bring the whole family and let the LA Street Food Festival wine and dine you June 28th!

 

 

Roaming Hunger will be at LASFF giving out 21+ ID wristbands. Come stop by the Roaming Hunger food truck tasting and say hi!

Food Trucks @ Coachella 2014

April 8th, 2014

It’s the Tuesday before Coachella. You’ve looked at the lineup hundreds of times and still can’t decide on which artist you’ll have to skip out on this year.

 

What you might forget is that Coachella is not a sprint—it’s a marathon. A great way to keep fueled (besides the beer garden) is to get down on some street food in between sets. Coachella hooked up an insane food truck lineup— one truck coming all the way out from Honolulu! Here’s a few to look out for:

 

Beer Garden

Kogi BBQ

 

Mangler’s Meltdown

 

Me So Hungry

 

Aloha Plate Truck

 

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Photo Cred: Eat a Duck

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Cousin’s Maine Lobster

 

Seabird’s

 

Coolhaus

 
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Photo Cred: Eat a Duck

Campgrounds

 

Ooh La La Crepes

 

Good Times Ice Cream Truck

 

The leak from Cultivora: http://cultivora.com/coverage/view/the-best-food-vendors-at-coachella-2014-musicfestival-indio-california-foodtrucks

 

– Roaming Hunger

 

 

Italian for Dessert: 5 Pizzas to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

April 1st, 2014

We all love our pizzas smeared with plenty of cheese, pepperoni, tomatoes, peppers, and all sorts of other veggies and meats, topped with a spell of spices, herbs, and different sauces. However, did you know that you could have this world famous delicacy in the form of a dessert too? Not only that, you’ll be amazed to see the number of mind-blowing topping combo’s you can come up with! Right from chocolate chips to marshmallows, to berries, jelly, shrimps, potatoes, bananas, cookies, and what not, the possibilities are literally endless. Following is a list of 5 such out-of-the-world sweet dessert pizzas that will knock your socks off.

Cookies, blueberry and shrimp

 

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Even in the wildest of your imagination, do you think you could ever come up with an insane pizza topping combo like cookies and shrimp? Bet not! Well, one thing’s for sure – this is one match that was certainly not made in heaven! Nevertheless, this super-weird combo apparently has some logic to it after all. The shrimp goes on to sit on the flat pizza pie along with potatoes, raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds – the pizza crust is made out of cookies. If you’re wondering where the blueberries goes – they goes nowhere. The pizza comes with a delicious blueberry sauce – dunk your pizza slice into the blueberry sauce and enjoy the taste of this mad, sweet and savory pizza.

Bananas and curry pizza

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You might recoil in shock when you first hear of a pizza made out of bananas and curry powder, but if you like your pizza sweet and want to try out something new, you might want to give this one a shot! The combo does sound strange, but rumor has it that it tastes phenomenal! Crazily popular in Sweden, this goofy pizza is made using pizza sauce (preferably organic), ripe bananas, curry powder, grated smoked cheese, and mozzarella. The bananas are cut into thin slices and distributed evenly over the pizza, followed by sprinkling the bananas with curry powder (as much as you like). Top up the pizza with grated cheese and smoked cheese, and you’re all set to pop it into the pizza oven. So what are you waiting for? Muster up the courage and go try it!

Peanut butter and jelly pizza

 

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Have you ever eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and felt how incredibly good it tasted? Well, wait till you taste the flavor of peanut butter and jelly when they’re melted – not kidding, it will blow your mind away! Exceptionally easy to make, this epic pizza only needs three ingredients that you’ve already guessed – pizza dough, peanut butter, and jelly. The pizza crust is smeared with melted peanut butter (warm the peanut butter in a microwave for about a minute). The jam is also warmed in the microwave until it is slightly liquidy and ready to be transferred into a squeeze bottle. Squeeze the jam in circles over the pizza crust which is smeared with peanut butter and that’s it, the pizza is ready to be devoured! Simple, tasty, and extremely easy to make, the sweetness of the jam and salty flavor of peanut butter make this pizza a super hit.

 

Chocolate and marshmallow

 

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Featuring four oh-so-simple ingredients, the chocolate and marshmallow pizza is yet another epic pizza that will knock your socks off. Lay your hands on some pizza dough, semisweet chocolate chips, and a handful or marshmallows. If you’re in a mood to experiment, you could even throw in some nuts and rainbow sprinkles to make it look all exciting and colorful. You’ll be glad to know that this pizza is not only absolutely gorgeous in taste and to look at, but is so easy to make too! After preheating the oven at the given temperature, all you need to do is to sprinkle the dough evenly with chocolate chips, and top it up with mouth-watering marshmallows, before you send it inside the oven. Bake it for around 18-20 minutes and this oh-so-delicious chocolate marshmallow pizza is all yours! 

Chocolate pizza with Irish cream drizzle

 

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If you consider chocolate as your true love, here’s another cracking pizza that will total rock your taste buds. Dark chocolate chips, delicious toffee pieces, and a drizzle of mouth-watering Irish cream liqueur – can you possibly think of something more heavenly than this insanely awesome combo? Just reading about this combo might have made you super hungry already! To make the dough for this pizza, 1 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, cocoa and salt are mixed in a large bowl along with warm water and butter. The dough is then rolled out and placed in a greased pizza pan, sprinkled with dark chocolate chips and toffee pieces, and finally baked for 12 to 15 minutes. To give it a perfect finish, whisk some powdered sugar, milk, and Irish cream liqueur and drizzle over the pizza before serving. The taste that follows is something that you’ll never forget!

Author Bio:

The author of this article, Andrea Warren, is an employee at Gourmet Wood Fired Ovens, leading suppliers of wood fired pizza ovens in Perth. Andrea loves to play the guitar in her spare time.

Navigating Farmers Markets

March 31st, 2014

Quality ingredients are the backbone to any food establishment and food trucks are no exception.  Whether the restaurant or food truck industry is more of a competitive battle-ground is debatable, however, they both need to source fresh ingredients from somewhere.  And more often than not, that ‘somewhere’ is the local farmers market.  In large cities, like San Francisco and Seattle, these markets can be excessive, varied, and confusing for a novice food entrepreneur to get the most out of. With local, healthy eating coming more into focus for the average metropolitan consumer, navigating a farmers market successfully (and thriftily) is becoming increasingly necessary – for food truck owners and health-conscious foodies alike. Farmer’s market produce will deliver on big taste, but when price is mixed into the equation, there are a few tricks of the trade to be considered.

 

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First and foremost, be friendly to the vendors! Not aggressive. I repeat, not aggressive. You don’t have to have the networking skills of a “Wall Street suit” in order to make this happen; just be kind, inquisitive, and start building a relationship.  Especially if you need items in bulk – looking at you food truck owners… you might be able to score a great deal if you buy on a regular basis or get an extremely low price on “seconds.” “Seconds” are the produce that is less than visually stunning (think bruises and marks); they can make for a great jam, sauce, or any other dish where the ingredients will be heavily broken down.

 

Additionally, vendors can give you tips, like what time their best produce sells out and when they are packing up and eager to sell their last baskets, which means better quality and lower prices for you.  Or pickling and storage instructions, such as never refrigerating your tomatoes in order to maintain their taste.  Don’t be afraid to ask for more or inquire about bulk prices and carrying a particular product. Let those bartering muscles finally get a good workout in!

 

We know you are already food savvy enough to buy seasonal, but which of these 24 different options of strawberries would you like? Hood, mignonette, seascape? Questions like these leave some bamboozled and confused about how to choose produce wisely and according to ones’ individual cooking needs.  Don’t let the rows and rows of bright colors meld together, or even worse, find that your food is spoiled the very next day. Always ask to taste a product, see where the produce is from, and ask for prices before deciding. Sample to your hearts content – ok at farmers markets, not ok at Costco. Make sure not to eat too much beforehand or you won’t have room left to try everything!

 

Moreover, larger shipments from a big supplier typically will be priced lower due to the advantages of economy of scale. But remember, that does not mean that they are the best looking and tasting option. To really shave off pennies, try only buying the most unique or “star” ingredients at the market and get the rest from a more traditional (bulk) retailer.  If you are still discovering new vendors, or an unfamiliar market, this will help reduce your time spent shopping around the different stalls as well.

 

Bring the kids, some cash, and your own sturdy, reusable bags.  Enjoy the beauty and bounty of your farmers market while helping support the local food movement.

 

Extra Tip: If the city allows you to park there, farmer’s markets are a fantastic location for health food trucks to set up shop.

 

 

 

We’ve put together a short cheat-sheet to help you out!


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  1. Sweet Corn: Try to buy sweet corn early in the day. The sugar converts to starch after being picked and sitting unrefrigerated; it looses its sweetness.
  2. Cantaloupe: Use your sniffer. It should have a distinct
    melon aroma around the stem end and be round and firm.
  3. Blackberries and blueberries: The bottom of the container shouldn’t be wet or stained. They should be plump and fully-ripened, but not moldy or squished. Do not wash them until time of consumption.
  4. Peaches, apricots, and nectarines: Pick a few at various ripening stages. They will continue to ripen, therefore if they
    are not being consumed at once, a variety of ripeness should be considered.
  5. Okra: Think small (< 5 inches). Long, large okra will be overly tough.
  6. Beets: Dark-red beets are known for their Betalains, a cancer-fighting property. Look for beets with their greens still attached.
  7. Cherries: There are many different varieties, so shop around. Don’t look at the cherries themselves to gauge ripeness, but rather, the stems.  Aim for bright-green and flexible.
  8. Pineapple: March through June is the optimal time to buy pineapple. They are actually more of a spring treat than summer pool-side indulgence.  Choose ones that are heavy, firm, and have dark-green leaves.
  9. Artichokes: Baby artichokes and their big brothers are similar to buying pineapples. They are best in the spring, should be plump and heavy, and have tightly closed leaves. Make sure there aren’t any black spots.
  10. Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage): April is the month to get in all your bok choy joy. Talk to farmers to discover all the unique and fun ways you can use the different varieties.

 

 

USDA Farmer’s Market Directory: http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/

 

 

http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/article/how-to-buy-the-best-healthiest-produce-at-the-farmers-market

http://mobile-cuisine.com/tip-of-the-day/sourcing-your-food-truck-menu-ingredients-locally/

http://farmflavor.com/how-to-pick-fresh-produce-at-the-farmers-market/

http://farmflavor.com/whats-in-season-spring/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kellan-hori/farmers-market-spring-shopping-guide_b_1456532.html

Creative Truck Builds of the Week List

March 28th, 2014

SNOW DAY – NEW YORK, NY

 

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BELLATRINO’S NEAPOLITAN PIZZA TRUCK – DALLAS, TX

 

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MAXIMUS MINIMUS – SEATTLE, WA

 

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THE DEL POPOLO PIZZA TRUCK – SAN FRANCISCO, CA

 

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GONZO JUICE – AUSTIN, TX

 

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Ode to Brick-and-Mortar

March 26th, 2014

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While owning and operating a food truck might sound like the best job ever to office-dwelling food truck patrons, truck operators, who wake up early and shut down late, will be the first to tell you the streets are hardly paved in gold.  There are many frustrating and unseen potholes and speed bumps (literally) along the way.

 

Initially, trucks are appealing for their low overhead cost and accessibility to those with little to no food industry experience.  They are a way to shop a concept around before gambling away the big bucks on opening a restaurant. David Schillace, owner of the Mexicue truck and Mexicue brick-and-mortar refers to the process of operating a truck as “a marketing tool, not a cash cow.” After turning his food truck into a shop, his consensus is “hands down, brick-and-mortar is easier.”  The perks of owning a truck become increasingly less desirable than the benefits of having a full-time shop.  Legally speaking, there are less hoops to jump through with a brick-and-mortar.  Many city trucks feel like they’re in a fierce game of shoots and ladders against bureaucratic legalities, competing trucks, and the notoriously formidable meter-maid.

 

There has undoubtedly been a significant rise of food trucks turned full-service restaurants. Still, there are so many trucks in every major metropolitan city that the majority aren’t going anywhere.  You can hear more from David Schillace, David Weber, founder of the NYC Food Truck Association, and Laura O’Neill of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, as they share their insights in Grub Street’s Hell on Wheels: Why Food Truck Owners Are Increasingly Turning to Brick-and-Mortar Shops.

 

The Lot @ USC || March 30 || 7-10p

March 25th, 2014

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