CMH Gourmand

Eat, Drink, Repeat: Culinary Discovery & Misadventure in Central Ohio

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The Columbus Food Truck Cookbook

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 1, 2016

Adobe Photoshop PDF

If you are interested in a copy of the Columbus Food Truck Cookbook you can order online at thecolumbusfoodtruckcookbook.com or find it locally at places like The Book Loft and Lucky’s Market.

The book is the work of Tiffany Harelik who started into the world of food trucks in Austin years ago and has been compiling books like this since then. Renee Casteel Cook is a writer that intentionally found her way to Columbus a few years ago. Inside the book you will find a mix of recipes as well as content about the food truck culture and interviews with many of the better known (and a few lesser known and/or o retired food truck operators). If you are interested in the world and culture of food trucks, this is a good introduction.

So below, I’ll give you a sneak peek – there are my answers to the questions posed to me in the book.


Tell us about your involvement in the food community in Columbus.

Freelance writer with focus on food and beverage since 1998. Created CMH Gourmand 2006 (Blog). Co-Creator Taco Trucks Columbus 2009, Street Eats Columbus 2010, Columbus Foodcast (Radio show) 2011 to 2014, Coordinator at Food Fort 2011 to 2013, Co-owner and Lead Guide Columbus Brew Adventures. Board member Columbus Mobile Food Advisory Board 2014 to present. Social Media and Marketing advisor for businesses and still work with Food Trucks.

How long have you been in Columbus and when did you start following the food cart scene here?
Lifelong resident. Started following seriously in 2009.

How are food trucks part of the Columbus culture?
Columbus is the most progressive city in the country for mobile food and a long history (with food carts) dating back to the 1980’s. They showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of the city and the diversity of what we have to offer culturally and in food.

If it’s someone’s first time visiting Columbus, how would you describe the food trailer scene and where would you tell them to begin? 
Columbus has over 150 active mobile food vendors so it is the largest and most diverse mobile food community in the Midwest and probably east of the Mississippi. Start at a brewery that features food trucks, then go on a Taco Truck Tour or Food Truck Tour with Columbus Food Adventures.

Do you have some pro-tips for people visiting the food trucks for the first time?
You can learn a lot from Taco Trucks Columbus and Street Eats Columbus about the vendors but also the culture, what to expect and etc., so read up then eat up.

Which trucks are most reflective of the Columbus culture?

The diversity of the trucks is most reflective of our city. This is not street meat we offer a mobile food court of choices.

What are the main differences in the food trucks in Columbus versus other cities?
The main differences are the number or mobile vendors and that our city government works with the vendors proactively. We also have a lot of proactive fans that support the industry. And there is a fella we call MikeGuyver that is like the Batman of mobile food filling in for labor emergencies on many trucks

What are the trends in cuisine within the food truck world? 
Trends represent what we see in Columbus and the major cities, a focus on local ingredients, regional cuisines and ethnic cuisine.

What is the future of food trailers in Columbus?
The future looks so bright, you need to wear shades. The first year of our the mobile food program which allows trucks to sell from designated parking spots is growing great and drawing in more new customers everyday. Established vendors are adding more trucks to their operators and moving into brick and mortar operations (Late Night Slice, Paddy Wagon, Mojo Togo, etc.

What’s the feeling of Columbus restaurants towards food trucks?
Many restaurants are working on adding their own food trucks and have been supportive to this type of business for the most part.

What are some local food trucks that have turned into brick and mortar restaurants?
See above.

Is there a high turn over in entrepreneurs who start food trucks or do they have longevity? 
It is a mix. If a vendor can survive the first year, they have a good chance for longevity. Many think a passion for food will get them customers. There is so much more than that, you must have a keen business sense, watch food costs, recruit and retain excellent staff and nail customer service. You can’t just tweet a couple of times per day. You have to understand and actively engage in marketing your business and developing your brand.

How many food carts are there in Columbus?
About 150.

Who are the founding fathers of the food truck revolution in Columbus?

Mikey Sorboro – Late Night Slice, Paul Humphries – Leslie’s Creperie, Brian Reed – Mojo Togo, Dan McCarthy Tatoheads, Jamie “Ray Ray” Anderson. And we have to tip a hat to the Taco Truck Community which started in 2002. Quicho from Taco Nazo and the owners of Los Guachos are the best known.

Are the Columbus trucks mobile or stationary?

Both. Taco Trucks and Ray Rays stay in one place. Most others are mobile.

What are the ‘food trailer parks’, how many are there, and can you share a little about each of the main pods in Columbus?

This did not really sustain here. The main connection is food trucks and breweries. Both have grown up together in the last two years.

Do you want to open your own cart? Why or why not?

I went to Hot Dog University in Chicago to learn about the business and I have worked shifts on a few trucks to understand the operations of the business and I have worked hand in hand with over 40 vendors to help them launch. It is incredibly hard work. When I “retire” I will probably open a Hot Dog Truck called Jimbos

What are some of the laws that food carts must adhere to in Columbus?
Too much to bullet point.

Is it safe/healthy to eat from a food cart in Columbus?

Yes. You can see your food being prepared, that is better odds than a restaurant and we have our green tag inspection program with the Department of Health.

What food truck festivals are happening in the Columbus area? 

Plenty – large and small.


Anything else you’d like to add about your involvement in the food truck scene?
 

One of my greatest honors was receiving the Vendy Community Award at the 2013 Food Truck Festival. There are so many people that have helped grow this community so to be chosen and showcased was a true honor. I was getting ready to leave my job at Food Fort and the boss I had then was incredibly unsupportive in the work I did with vendors so to get that award was a great validation that I knew what I was doing and had done it well.

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