Food trucks. They’re cool, they’re hip, they’re all the rage.
And Toledo will celebrate them at its first Food Truck Fest from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Adam Sattler, of the Ottawa Tavern’s Wanderlust Sandwich Co. truck, said: “There are a lot of new trucks entering the scene, and this festival is a great opportunity for Toledoans to see what’s been happening with food trucks in their city.”
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Hosted by the Collingwood Arts Center (2413 Collingwood), the Food Truck Fest is sponsored by Miller Lite and is supported by The Old West End Association. A donation of $2 is suggested, which will go to the Arts Center. Attendees can purchase food and beverages from any or all of the participating trucks, which are setting their own menus and prices. Live music will be performed by the band Kids with Knives and by singer Becca Nease.
Mr. Sattler continued: “Some of the new trucks are expansions of existing restaurants, but a lot are incubators for new ideas — Cuban food, smoked potatoes, our internationally-inspired sandwiches — whatever it is. And I think that from a cultural standpoint, they enrich our city. They give people new delicious, affordable quick-service options.”
At the festival, the food trucks will be selling a mouth-watering and widely varied array of items, from international street food classics to barbecue, with vegan and gluten-free options available in addition to handmade desserts, craft beer, and coffee. Vendors include Antojitos Laredo Tacos, Aunt Carla’s Boosh (uniquely spiced gourmet bratwurst), Bea’s Blend Specialty Coffees, Mr. Bob’s Q, Slammin’ Sammies (creative sandwiches), The Displaced Chef Mobile Cuisine (Cubanos and other Cuban dishes), Traveling Tables, and Wanderlust Sandwich Co.
“We like supporting small local events, especially when they’re tied to music and or the arts. Being a small upstart business ourselves, it’s a great way to get the word out about our product,” said Tom Wierman of Aunt Carla’s Boosh.
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Even though people have favorite restaurants and regularly order “the usual” when eating there because the dish is so beloved, sometimes they want something different, something unexpected, something new.
Roy Choi, considered the father of the food truck phenomenon, wrote this in his autobiography, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food: “Through that windshield ... I saw a city that didn’t know it was hungry and a reflection of a guy who was free.”
The same scenario is playing out in Toledo and across the country, as food trucks change the way we eat and the ways that creative cooks can try new things. A simple idea and a couple of good recipes aren’t necessarily sufficient to sustain a restaurant, but they’re the backbone of food trucks, which enable entrepreneurs to get a start and build a strong customer base and reputation.
Where food trucks particularly find their niche is with flexibility and the ability to take inspirations and try them on the spur of the moment. There isn’t necessarily a firmly set printed menu that needs to be followed. There’s no retraining of chefs and line cooks. With food trucks, spontaneity rules based on market availability and even whims.
The trucks are mobile and can go where the customers are, whether at a regular location or at rotating sites. And if one member of a lunch group wants a sandwich while another wants Mexican food, a row of food trucks offers something for everyone in one spot.
The public never realized what it didn’t have until food trucks became so popular, and now it’s difficult to imagine life before they made a quick lunch so readily available. Food trucks provide restaurant quality at reasonable prices, and they do it quickly through a walk-up, rather than a drive-through, window. Food that’s fast, rather than fast food.
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“People talk about Portland, San Francisco, and Nashville when they talk about creative food and food trucks are a major part of that,” Mr. Sattler said. “There’s no reason Toledo can’t move in that direction.”
At the end of his autobiography, Mr. Choi writes, “Here I am. Standing in a parking lot. Surrounded by friends. Smiling.”
You can be standing and smiling with friends, too, as you eat and celebrate at Toledo’s first Food Truck Fest on Saturday.
- Garlic mayonnaise
- 2 12-inch spinach tortillas
- 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and sliced in long strips
- 1 cucumber peeled and thinly sliced long ways using a mandolin
- 4 slices of black forest ham deli meat
- 4 slices of oven roasted turkey breast deli meat
- 4 slices of bacon cooked
Awe Sooky Sooky
“Here is my recipe for my signature wrap I created and that I do,” says Melissa Risner of Slammin’ Sammies. “It has had a huge response and is great any time of the year. People say it is light and refreshing so I love it in the summer months.”
Spread garlic mayonnaise on the spinach wrap, then put 1 cup of fresh spinach leaves down or as much as you like. Then put 6 to 8 red bell pepper strips on top of spinach, on top of the red bell peppers add 4 slices of cucumbers. Add 2 pieces of ham, 2 pieces of turkey, and 2 strips of bacon to finish it off. Role it up like a burrito and cut in half on angle and enjoy.
Makes 2 12-inch wraps.
Source: Melissa Risner, owner of Slammin’ Sammies
L.A. Corner on the Cob
- 4 ears corn, shucked
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup grated Cotija cheese
- pinch of cayenne
- 2 limes, halved
“As I roamed around the city,” writes Roy Choi, “I always ran across people selling corn slathered with mayonnaise with chili powder, Cotija cheese, a squirt of lime, and done. I’d been around these street vendors my whole life.”
Heat a griddle over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the oil.
Stick a wooden chopstick or skewer into the end of each ear to make a corn lollipop. Slather the ears of corn with butter and season them with salt.
Sear the ears on the griddle, turning them over as needed, until they’re lightly browned on all aides. about 2 minutes. Once the ears are cooked, slather them with mayo and shower them with Cotija cheese. They should be completely covered in mayo and cheese. Dust the cayenne all over the ears, followed by a squeeze of lime. Eat. Immediately.
Makes 4 corner cobs.
Source: Roy Choi, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food