One of the hottest trends in the culinary world can be found on four wheels. Food trucks have become wildly popular not just with foodies, but chefs who want to get out of the standard restaurant environment and take more control over their careers without having to worry about a wait staff, huge overhead or tables and floors to clean.
Working in a Food Truck
Just because food trucks take the restaurant out of the equation doesn't mean they don't have their own set of concerns to deal with. As food trucks have multiplied, health inspectors have gotten increasingly more stringent when it comes to sanitation standards. Each city also has different regulations a food truck owner must learn and abide by.
Since a food truck usually changes location daily, it's up to the chefs to market themselves via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to alert hungry customers of the truck's whereabouts. Many food truck chefs connect with each other on these social networks, building networks to increase each food truck's reach among the foodie community.
However, like any restaurant, what's most important is the food.
It's competitive out there, and if a food truck doesn't produce delicious, unique product that's relatively inexpensive (remember, customers are paying for the food only, not the ambience), it'll soon be out of business like any other poor-performing restaurant.
Creativity is key. The possibilities are endless, with trucks specializing in everything from Chinese food to clam chowder to cupcakes.
It doesn't take as much capital to start a food truck as it does to launch a standard restaurant, but it certainly isn't free. A vehicle must be procured that's big enough to house a small food preparation area but small enough to park on city streets, and chefs must source and pay for their own product. But for many food truck owners, the prospect of being one's own boss is the most attractive thing about running one of these mobile purveyors of deliciousness.
With many well-known chefs taking to the streets -- like Laurent Katgely, the owner and chef of the French restaurant Chez Spencer in San Francisco who recently started a French taco truck called Spencer on the Go — it's getting increasingly difficult to stand out in the crowded food truck landscape.
But if your truck is as successful as the one run by Roy Choi, the chef of Kogi, the famous Korean barbecue truck in Los Angeles, it's possible to do the opposite and make the transition from running a popular food truck chef to opening your own restaurant.
Education and Training
Like chefs applying for jobs at a respected restaurant, food truck chefs need the right training in the kitchen â€“ especially because they have to wear every hat.
Food truck chefs don't have the luxury of specializing in a specific task or two, so they need a well-rounded education and training to get ready for life on the road.
While you don't have to answer to a boss and there's potential to see great success, running a food truck does have its challenges.
Like any small business owner, there are rules and regulations to worry about, products to source and purchase, marketing challenges, and other business issues to be concerned with.