Are Food Trucks About Something Other Than the Food?

By Jonathan Kauffman |

Today’s notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredgedup from the food media.

1. Food trucks are not about the food. On, Aviva Shen files a thought-provoking story about why food trucks are drawing so many career-changers. They’re are all about branding, she argues, not about the food:

Aside from their white-collar roots, these operations have something … in common ― a very simple, savvy business model: develop a relatively low-maintenance product, sell it for a reasonable price, and devote the rest of your energy to aggressive, compelling marketing.

Furthermore, she adds, a nation of diners grown accustomed to celebrity chefs, chains, and massive PR pushes eat it up. Shen’s piece is worth a good cackle ― and I don’t think she’s 100 percent wrong. But I don’t think she’s 100 percent right, either. In San Francisco, at least, for every fusion-burrito peddler with an MBA and a graphic designer on retainer, there’s a formally trained cook with a decade or so of experience who wants to do his or her own thing but can’t raise a half-mil for a restaurant. Shen’s right: there is a lot of mediocre food-truck food out there. There’s also a growing number of single-focus trucks that produce two or three great dishes worth hunting down.