The history of gourmet food trucks

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US: The Chairman food truck by Mobi Munch
US: The Chairman food truck by Mobi Munch

A few years ago no one would actively seek out a food truck for a good meal. Sometimes they happened to be on the side of the road, often stopped at various construction sites for breakfast and lunch, serving pastries and pre-prepared standard sandwiches. But as the recession hit the United States those trucks lost their business, chefs all over the country were losing their jobs, and magically the two came together and thus, the food truck was born.

Today there are hundreds of food trucks across the US and around the world, serving dishes like fresh lobster on buttered split top rolls, Bahn Mi sandwiches with lemongrass chicken and even Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Pancake Bites.

The trend has evolved so much in the US that it inspired things like the annual Vendy Awards, to celebrate the best in mobile food achievements, Street Food Vending classes in NYC, for those who want to become mobile food vendors, food truck cookbooks, reality shows, and much more.

The food trucks would never have taken off like they did without the help of two other, pretty significant sites: Facebook and Twitter.

Sydney food trucks: Agape Organic

The use of social media to track the trucks, advertise specials on the day or explain new menu items helped food trucks take off in the spectacular way they did.

Sources vary as to where it all really started but Kogi Korean BBQ in LA is known as one of the first in the new era of mobile kitchens. It took the Kogi truck several weeks of parking in various locations for a few hours before anyone even talked about the truck.

A meal from Mobi Munch The Chairman
A meal from Mobi Munch The Chairman

They offered samples to bouncers at clubs and food bloggers and then the word finally started to get out. From there they kept using Twitter religiously and nowadays the wait outside their truck can take over an hour, and now they've added four more food trucks and opened two sister restaurants.

Their success comes from a combination of unbelievable food, cheap prices, late night menus and the new idea of a mobile eatery with a strong social aspect.

Related: Farmers' markets go digital

Many of the trucks stick to one basic concept, which seems to be the recipe for success. Since cooking in a truck can be rather limited they do what they can and they do it well. Trucks like Fishlips Sushi (LA), Streetza Pizza (WI), Sam’s ChowderMobile (SF) and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (NYC) have followed this method and now have their own dedicated followers.

With food trucks finding success like this all over the world it was only a matter of time before they arrived in Sydney.

The City of Sydney is launching their food truck pilot program this year, featuring 10 trucks to test out how Sydney-siders react to the meals on wheels.

The trucks will be able to stop on 13 determined sites and will serve food late at night, something Sydney has been lacking for some time.

Sydney food trucks: Al Carbon

The batch of operators have some unique ideas for their trucks including one that is fully sustainable and runs on vegetable oil and solar panels, called the Veggie Patch.

The owner of another truck, Al Carbon, is also creating his own space in Canterbury called La Lupita where he can drive his truck straight through the back and continue the party if weather tries to extinguish his charcoal grill, used to make authentic Mexican tacos.

The trucks are set to launch very soon and with them, a smartphone app to provide a real-time map, so you’ll know exactly where your next tasty meal is located.

The fact that the food trucks haven’t even reached all the major cities yet means they have much more room to grow. Despite their humble beginnings they are set to be a staple on street corners for a while to come.

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