October 20, 2012

Fall Trailer Events

Photo by Bonnie Berry Photography
We have lots of exciting events and milestones happening this Fall.  The Trailer Food Diaires COOKBOOK Austin Volume 2 comes out this month, and we have a lot of great speaking opportunities.  Stay in touch on twitter @trailerfood, or on our Facebook page.  Our goal is to have our new website up early November so you will be able to read more free stories/recipes, & purchase books and trailer food jellies online for the coming holiday season.  Articles on histories and recipes from the food trucks will resume soon.  Thank you for your support and interest in the Trailer Food Diaries! 

October 3: Private speaking engagement at Razor Fish
October 19: featured on Food Network UKOctober 24: Texas Womens' Conference, featured as a local leader
October 26-28: Country Living Fair, Atlanta, Georgia
October 27: Austin Volume 2 of the cookbook series arrivesOctober 27-28: Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas
October 30: Trailer Food Tuesdays 5p-10p at the Long Center, Austin, Texas

November 3: Cooking Class at Central Market featuring Cazamance, Royito's, Fresh off the Truck and Holy Cacao
November 7: Book Signing at Book People
November 15-18: Junior League's A Christmas Affair, Austin, Texas
November 15-18: F1
November 27:  Trailer Food Tuesdays 5p-10p at the Long Center, Austin, Texas

December 5: ATX Man Magazine Launch party December 7: Private speaking engagement at UT
December 12-24: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

October 18, 2012

The Melting Cone: Austin's newest ice cream truck!

The Melting Cone is one of Austin's newest ice cream truck concepts and will be launching this November at F1.  I had the chance to bend owner Doug Lyon's ear about his truck.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?I love regular Milk Chocolate ice cream….I can't eat enough of it. If you throw in pecans I may have to be rushed to a hospital.

Your love of ice cream started before this food truck.  Tell us about your experience with the Austin Ice Cream Festival:

I founded the Austin Ice Cream Festival six years ago because of my kids and my love for ice cream. There was not a real kids festival in Austin where the music wasn't so loud and everyone was pounding a beer around you. We really felt the need for a family friendly event in Austin and it has shown with all of our success from Food Network, MTV, Joey Chestnut (Hot Dog Eating Champ) coming to eat in our ice cream eating contest and even international press.

Why did you start an ice cream truck?I also have always loved cones since I was a kid, which is why I helped create The Melting Cone. The Melting Cone has the best flavored waffle cones you have had, including JalapeƱo and Cinnamon. We coat them or dip them with all kinds of great toppings including Pop Rocks, peppermint, almonds and nuts, and all kinds of other great goodies. I have partnered with Tim Joyner from Austin Scoops. Tim is an an incredible "Ice Cream Man" and can make some of the best ice cream you have ever had. his experience was a big part of me wanting to do this.

What separates your cones from others?
The thing that separates us is our cones and toppings. You will not find these types on incredibly tasty combinations anywhere. We will also be launching unique flavors only available at The Melting Cone….so stay tuned.

Before ice cream, what were you doing?
I studied Advertising at the University of Texas and have always had fun branding and creating cool things including the original packaging for Sweet Leaf Tea and a lot of work for Freebirds World Burrito and Southwest Airlines. So, it was a LOT of fun designing and building a truck with a melting cone on top. It has won Best of Show at a national mobile vehicle convention.

Who are your ice cream heroes?
My ice cream heroes are Ben & Jerry's. They were the first I know to really leap into seriously creative flavors and combinations. I would love to see their facility and meet these guys.

Which food truck person would you most like to meet?The Food Truck person I would love to meet is David Weber. I have been to a seminar he was a speaker at, but would love to sit down and have a cone with him.

October 6, 2012

Thinking about starting your own food truck?

Food Trailerin’
Pro Tips for Starting Your Own Food Trailer Business
You’ll need a unique product, a healthy dose of perseverance and plenty of time dedicated to marketing.Whatever you think your starting budget is, go ahead and double that, and if you’re not handy, get handy—that will save you in the long run when parts of your trailer kitchen malfunction. Here is some advice for those interested in pursuing their own version of the American dream via a food trailer:

Menu One of the first things you’ll want to determine is the type of food you are serving and your menu selection. You’ll want to keep your menu simple for many reasons. Limited options with only a handful of menu items to choose from will reduce patrons’ time in line and reduce the overall workload in the kitchen. Remember that starting out, you are the one doing all the grocery shopping, food orders, cooking and cleaning. Starting out with a minimal menu will allow you to get food out quicker and save you time before and after your prep work.
Waste Water and grease Operating out of a food truck, food trailer or old RV, you will be dealing with removing waste water from washing hands and dishes, as well as any grease from cooking. Map a plan for a sanitary, environmentally friendly and legal way to dispose of these items on a regular basis that is close to your location.
Understand your electrical needs Make sure the spot you rent for your trailer food business is equipped with enough electricity to power your business. You don’t want to leave any product in your trailer overnight to avoid any electrical blowouts that would turn the refrigerator off and ruin your product. Instead, store food products in your commissary.
Find a commissary close to your trailer location Whether you do most of your prep work in a commissary kitchen or not, the Austin law currently requires you to have a commissary kitchen as part of your license to operate a food trailer. Having a commissary that is close to your trailer location will save you time and money. The same logic can be applied to where you source your food product, if you are not having your product delivered.
Form great relationships With your suppliers They might not always be able to show up on time, so make sure not to get too low in your product before you call in an order. Don’t make your emergency their problem, and pay your bills on time; you might need a favor from them in a pinch, and you want to be in good standing when you have to call them for backup support.
Marketing Don’t leave this part out of your business plan, especially if you don’t have a business plan. Do not expect to get everything ready and receive business just because you turned on the open sign. Make sure your set up your Facebook page, Twitter and website or blog to include pertinent
information: business phone, e-mail, location and hours. Get to know local food bloggers and writers and invite them out to any special tasting events you might be having.Write a decent press release and let the media know about your opening and why you are unique. Introduce yourself to neighboring businesses, and be an active member in your community and the trailer community at large.
Set your hours and stick to them Patrons find it particularly frustrating when they try to find you for lunch and you’re closed. It often is the last time they try to find you.That said, people understand when things prohibit you from opening your business on time as planned. Just be sure to let people know if you are closed on all your social media accounts and with a sign up at the trailer when possible.
Get all your permits Call the health and fire department for the most current information on how to be registered and permitted correctly. Although the process may be lengthy, remember they are there to help you get your business set up correctly. 

This panel discussion featuring the owners of some of Orlando's best gourmet food trucks is moderated by Mark Baratelli, creator of The Daily City and The Food Truck Bazaar, and presented by the Orange County Library System.