So First off, I would like to give a thousand thanks to The Little Chef Food truck and catering for giving me the opportunity to work with them and allowing me the expansion of my kitchen experience. So you wanna own or work on a food truck?
Food trucks now a days have been all over television as these glamorous, extravagant, mega kitchens on wheels. Not always, often actually NOT the case. Sure, theres $40,000 rigs with blast chillers and convection ovens, and all the gadgets you could imagine. The real deal food truckers are the mom and pop, die hard foodies who’s overhead is often more than what they pull in on a single sitting. It is a labor of love, in a cramped hot space, all at a blinding pace. Folks at a sit down restaurant expect to wait a moment or two for drinks, salad, ect.
So first things first, the set up. Truck pulls in, level out the trailer (this was a trailer truck), making sure you’re not preparing food slanted like slinging food on the sinking titanic. Sit that onion down to chop it and turn away for a sec it may not be there anymore lol get it? So after we leveled the trailer, kick the generator on, propane, set up the window unit a/c because it gets hotter than hades in that small space with two fryers, a grill, and 3 people working. Alright grills hot now what?
Everyone in a normal kitchen can move about and adjust their sections as needed to make a more efficient food rush. Not the case in a food truck, You get a section or station and you STAY PUT. No crossing, you can’t move. It’s a clogged artery if you do. So, to make things run smoothly in a food truck everyone has a station and that is where communication and teamwork are CRUCIAL. It’s like a wave pool. The window hands the ticket down to the food assembly person assembling plates/expediting, calls out the ticket, whole truck acknowledges, the tickets passed to the fryer/line cook, line cook passes on the needs of the ticket to me the prep station. I in turn feed the line cook with items, line cook passes the items back to the assembly, assembly passes the completed ticket order to the window. Front to back, back to front. I can’t stress how important kitchen commands are, behind, knife behind you, hot, because when I say behind you? I mean just about over your shoulder.
The rush came, the rush went, but for me, the rush lingered well after the food was gone, the folks went home. It lingered like the sweet after taste of a good chocolate. Leaving me wanting more.
Food trucks can be portrayed on tv as these easy going, all smiles, fun glamorous contraptions. I learned that like most things, tv is “screenshots” of what really goes on. The prep, the sweat, the chaos, the hours on hours on hours of back breaking work these food truck owners go through for even just an hour or two of serving time. After the lights are gone, there’s noone around, food truck owners scrub and clean, plan menus, cost vs overhead/gas/help. At the end of the day, you may not have fat pockets, you may sometimes break even.
I was fortunate to see what goes into making a food truck tick. Sometimes, the biggest hearts, are in the smallest of kitchens.