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Food for Thought is an ongoing column-with-a-conscience that focuses on exciting new discoveries in the foodie world.
In Seattle circa 2007, Josh Henderson created a prototype for the American Food Truck movement by charging $14 for a street food hamburger. He solidified the idea that a chef-driven food truck, with a focus on seasonal ingredients, was a viable idea. This idea has swept across North America, and we at Bamboo became curious—what is the big deal with food trucks?
Bamboo Magazine caught up with Josh Henderson of Skillet Street Food on his recent visit to All The Best Fine Foods in downtown Toronto, Canada, and we asked him this question. He thought that the question would make a great T-shirt slogan. With the popularity of Eat St. on Food Network Television, as well as large food truck movements in major cities like Toronto, New York and Los Angeles, we wouldn’t be surprised to see those shirts being sold.
What is at the root of this? The creation of a passionate food business. More and more, we see classically trained chefs trade in their whites for a set of tires. Chef Henderson reflected on why he thinks this is the case: “There is something to be said for eating food on asphalt. I think it really heightens the senses, and you don’t expect to get what you would get.” And, with Skillet Street Food, what they get is seasonal and delicious.
Yet, with all the cliché around seasonal and local sourcing, certain chefs like Josh do not subscribe to the buzz. For them, passionate chefs have been sourcing locally and sustainably where possible for years. Why? Because it just tastes better. As Claudio Aprile, Chef and Owner of Origin and Colbourne Lane reflects, “The word sustainability is quite cliché. For us, sustainability is year round. We support local businesses and farmers as much as possible, but if I want Manchego cheese from Spain for my customers, I will get it.”
Who are we to argue with the case for the co-existence of local and import? Really, how would we function without mangos and cumin? Since food trucks run the gamut of food philosophies, no different than restaurants, they, too, will have to react to the buzz to be responsible.
However, Chef Henderson feels that street food trucks are uniquely positioned to serve a higher cause. “To be successful, food trucks need to focus on simplicity, showcasing one or two ingredients. To me, they are a perfect match for a local, seasonal philosophy.”
Whether local or not, there is no doubt that food trucks will become a permanent fixture in our gastronomic landscape. What’s the big deal with food trucks? You decide.
Josh Henderson is the Chef and Owner of Skillet Street Food, a company that started operating a now historic food truck out of a Silver Airstream Trailer, and subsequently moved to running a successful diner and selling a tasty line of products including Bacon Jam and Pumpkin Sauce. For more information on Skillet Street Food, or to order their products, visit www.skilletstreetfood.com.