Chatsworth, CA: Truck on Down for Gourmet Grub

The food trucks in Chatsworth. Credit: Saul Daniels

By Elano Pizzicarola | Patch.com

The food trucks in Chatsworth. Credit: Saul Daniels

Food truck fever has galvanized urban America, especially Los Angeles. The establishments, sometimes called “gourmet food trucks,” draw increasingly more Angelinos. But more recently, they have begun to reach suburban America, including Chatsworth.

No longer considered “roach coaches,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has adopted an ordinance issuing “A,” “B” or “C” sanitary ratings to food trucks. The initiative was spearheaded by Director of Public Health Dr. Jonathan Fielding and Los Angeles County Environmental Health Bureau Director Terrance Powell.

For those unfamiliar with the burgeoning food truck culture, it may seem eclectic. Almost all trucks each boast their own identity. Each truck peddles a specialized food. And each truck’s exterior is emblazoned with its signature design and colors.

It’s a balmy evening and food trucks just descended curbside on Devonshire Street near Mason Avenue. Workers rush up and down their trucks to prepare for their first customers.

Before long, people of all ages converse nonchalantly over food that ranges from dumplings to tacos. Some are treated to big band jazz at the mafia themed Da Burger Boss truck. From the Atomic Hog a few trucks down, others hear blaring electro music before it switches to ’60s rock ‘n’ roll.

Simi Valley resident Reticia Valez and fellow diner, Todd Franklin, are eating french fries from Atomic Hog.

“You gotta get out and live life. And enjoy yourself,” says Franklin, to those who are wary of eating from a truck.

Most trucks are manned by no more than three cashiers and cooks. Franklin feels this cultivates intimate customer interaction.

“It gives it more of a homey feel,” he says.

Valez enjoys the variety in food served. Valez, who works in pharmaceuticals, shares her experiences with her colleagues.

She cares less that the sidewalks sometimes lack beach chairs and portable picnic tables.

“We’re willing to sit on the curb,” she says.

And when trying to pinpoint the food truck culture’s flaws, they both are hard-pressed. They would change nothing.

Timothy Phillips, 33, chooses Da Burger Boss as his favorite. And during his workday in the law industry, he spends lunch breaks at trucks on Wilshire Boulevard, which has become a food truck hotbed. And for dinner, he visits the gathering on Devonshire and Mason en route to his nearby home.

He’s elsewhere dined at hotspots spanning Los Angeles from Venice Beach to the L.A. Beer Festival for almost a year.

Phillips also feels no apprehension regarding food quality, especially after the new restaurant-style standards. He feels comfortable knowing the food prepared before him is non-processed, as he claims.

“It beats a McDonald’s, Subway type thing,” he says.

Phillips describes a good food truck.

“The presentation. The prices and the quality of what they’re serving. Sometimes, they get a little too experimental for me. And that’s not what I’m looking for.”

However, he praises their unique food. He even alludes to a truck that serves red velvet pancakes.

“The phenomenon has already come on-scene,” says Phillips, about food trucks in the Valley targeting dinner crowds.

As for the economic side of food trucking, their daily business is partly driven by social media. They harness Twitter to notify followers where and when they serve.

And Los Angeles food trucks have been equated with traditional eateries, now reviewed on Yelp and ZAGAT.com.

But before launching a food truck, the roving restaurateurs must apply with food regulators. Los Angeles County Environmental Health receives applications frequently.

“Daily, weekly,” said Chief Environmental Health Specialist Hector Dela Cruz.

Dela Cruz is unable to foresee food trucks’ future. This hinges on people’s buying habits, he says.

However, he entertains it being bolstered by Twitter.

“Right now, it seems to be a hot thing with people into social media,” Dela Cruz says.

“It does have a lot of momentum right now.”

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