|From hot dogs to 'haute dogs' - food trucks turn on the culinary charm|
|Friday, 13 April 2012|
Combining street food convenience and restaurant quality, mobile kitchens are bringing good, cheap food to a pavement near you... "At a time when consumers are cutting back on their restaurant spending, a van serving up fresh and inexpensive lunches and dinners is an easy sell to the public," says food journalist Richard Johnson, founder of the British Street Food Awards.
The hot dog's PR problem solved
So what has made traditionally cheap, basic and in some cases unhygienic food vending stations suddenly turn up the gas?
For one thing, vendors have significantly improved the quality not just of their product, but of their image.
"Take hot dogs. They had a PR problem. Now they have become ‘haute dogs’," Johnson says.
"There was the matter of the sodium nitrate. And the MSG. But ‘haute dogs’ are different. They’re made from quality cuts, stuffed into all-natural casings –- and they don’t come out of a can."
With customers ever more knowledgeable about their food, the difference between a "hot dog" and a "haute dog" can mean the difference between a sale or a walk-by.
''Not only is it tasty, but the presentation is also amazing. You can really feel and taste how good and fresh the ingredients are," John Andrews, a frequent customer of London food truck Street Kitchen, told CNNGo. "Very competitive. I would rather come back here than a restaurant nearby."
Then there's the willingness of these ever-adaptable foodie people to tap into another huge trend - social media.
Given that food trucks, despite securing "spots" for weeks at a time, often move around, telling customers where to find them is crucial.
Some of the most successful food trucks - California's Kogi, Seoul's grill5taco, New York's Cupcake Crew, Singapore's world food tour, London's Street Kitchen - are all well connected to fans via Facebook and Twitter.
Kogi started its Korean-style tacos back in 2008 and thanks to Twitter and Facebook, its popularity shot up and led the way for more food trucks in the area.
Good food, good business
It all makes for some pleasing numbers.
In a survey released by Technomic last year, 91 percent of consumers said they saw food trucks as having staying power, while various cities saw jumps in the number of such trucks, including Austin, Texas, which now has more than 1,600 food trucks up from 650 in 2006.
There are now more than 3 000 licensed food trucks in the United States, according to Richard Myrick, founder of Mobile Cuisine.com, while Seoul has more than 2 000 according to the Korea Street Vendors Confederation.
For anyone looking to get into the industry, it can be a relatively cheap foot in the door.
"A street food trader can be vanned-up and ready to go for less than £3 000. And earning - on a good day at Glastonbury - more than £10 000 a day. Cash in hand," says Johnson.
But as always, success comes at a cost - hard work......
CNN GO: Read the full article