Andrew Zimmern, “Bizarre Foods” TV personality, hosted the food truck rally day at this year’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami. He reports, a little exaggeratedly, that mobile food has been around “since before the time of Christ” – just not in the fashion that we currently know of it. Though it hasn’t been in a form with the 8, 16 or 4-wheel see today, Zimmern says that the mobile food industry has always lent itself to entrepreneurs trying to tap into the general restaurant industry.
He reports that the food truck business is actually not a trend. It has been in the market place for centuries, and the sudden rise in its popularity is a result of the 2007 economic downturn. However, the recession only assisted the food truck industry to the forefront of the food scene again – it did not create the industry. “This is the way people have eaten forever. You have a small mobile restaurant serving three, four items – what could be more perfect?” asked Zimmern.
The 2012 festival’s food truck rally was hosted at the beach rather this it’s most recent location in Midtown, again by Zimmern. The location change came down to event manager Randy Fisher’s team, who appraised Midtown as an area more suited for the food truck event – an often urbanized, hip industry in the food sector.
Even with the amount and quality of food trucks in South Florida, Zimmern still believes the region has yet to hit its saturation point. He bases his assumption off of the amount of food trucks that congregate at meet-ups and rallies, which is below what “could be.” All in all, South Florida’s emphasis on constantly congregating food trucks together is unique in itself.
In addition to Zimmern, there were a plethora of celebrity chefs exploring Jungle Island with the 22 food trucks ringed in a huge white tent at the festival. These food trucks offered a range of foods – including everything from potato ravioli to mahi sausage. And since the South Beach Wine and Food Festival is located in Miami, Cuban food was the most prevalent mobile cuisine on hand.
For the second year running, Ms. Cheezious was the people’s choice for the tastiest truck. What does it have that your food truck may be missing? For one, its specialty is called the “South in Your Mouth Melt,” which is perfect combination of crispy, crunchy and savory textures and flavors. In contrast to the majority winner, Zimmern chose the Slow Food Truck as his winner. This truck serves up items like “Beef Shorty Sliders,” topped with queso fresco, arugula and shallots. Another favorite in the food truck tent was the “Cuba Libre” from Cubancube. It was a fried sweet potato, stuffed with rum and cola-braised ropa vieja, with a piece of sugarcane on top.
Here at Concession Nation, we’re happy to see such a large event highlight how much the food truck industry has evolved and witness how much growth is it its future.