Host a Food Truck-Catered Party (and 11 of Our Favorites)
Today on The Daily Meal
Who doesn't love good food served fresh from a mobile kitchen that comes to you? Since the beginning of this culinary craze, hungry followers have scoured their neighborhood streets and Twitter feeds for their next inexpensive yet delicious snack, meal, or sweet treat. From dumplings to tacos, ice cream sandwiches to waffles, there is no limit to what these kitchens-on-wheels can produce. But have you ever considered hiring one to do the cooking for you at your next get-together?
Calling up a local mobile food vendor is a trend that’s on the rise. In lieu of traditional office parties, corporations in the New York Tri-State area have called in trucks to park outside the office and serve workers there (one firm entertaining in a sports stadium even had the truck drive right in). A group of 20-something California young professionals harnessed the power of food trucks to bring newcomers to the Palo Alto area together for a food truck party where guests could enjoy good food and make new friends. Sure, you're going to get good, fresh food served to your guests without dirtying your kitchen (plus, it's a lot of fun). But there are some things you should know and consider before calling up a truck in your area — and we're here to help.
Why Hire a Food Truck as a Caterer?
1. It's Good Food: Hiring a food truck is like having a mobile restaurant come to your house and feed your guests, without even setting foot inside. Unlike many traditional caterers who do most of the food preparation in advance and merely assemble dishes on site before serving, these vendors prepare almost everything from scratch on site and cooked it fresh to order. At the end of the day, that means your guests are happy, and there is less stress and headache for you — plus your kitchen stays clean.
2. It's Fun: So what do the guests think? The team at Mexicue in New York City has noticed that whenever their truck rolls up to an event, the guests’ curiosity increases and the energy of the party goes up a notch. Jeff Borofsky, the chef and owner behind Skinny Pines Pizza Truck in Connecticut agrees. “The guests love it when we’re a part of the party — watching the pizza being made and interacting with my team is entertainment for them — and it’s fun for us.”
3. It's Cost-Effective: When entertaining large groups, choosing a food truck over a traditional caterer can also save you money. Both Hummingbird Kitchen in Evanston, Ill. and Skillet Street Food in Seattle would agree — you can have a greater number of food options at a lesser cost because there is minimal labor and personnel involved. As well, unlike other food vendors that need hours to set up equipment and sanitation, most of these trucks are ready to serve within the frist hour on site, saving you time (and money). Having your wedding outdoors? Instead of hiring a caterer that will need an outdoor kitchen and electricity, not to mention a cook and service staff, hire a couple of food trucks that each serve different cuisines to create an international menu that will delight your guests and keep the set-up and clean up minimal.
What to Consider When Hiring a Food Truck
1. Plan Ahead: While entertaining with food trucks may seem easy and painless, as with any party, you still need to plan everything in advance. Most trucks we spoke to agree that reserving the truck you want well in advance will ensure that the client gets exactly what they want. As well, clients should work with the truck to ensure there is ample space for them to park — both in terms of width and height.
2. Anticipate Expectations: As with any caterer, it’s important to discuss exactly what the truck offers and what you, as the client, expects, as well. Working with food trucks is unlike working with traditional caterers because the style of service is different, with little need for waiters. To ensure your event runs smoothly, it is best to discuss the flow of the event and how everything will function in advance. And unlike a normal catered affair, it is unlikely you’ll have any rental requirements unless you’re hosting a more formal get-together. Though, if you do need rental equipment, a carving chef, or even a DJ, some food trucks will help coordinate those services for you, at an additional cost.
3. Set the Scene: The food is taken care of, but determining how and where it is served — and how the party feels — is still the host's responsibility. Purple People Eatery in Miami has catered events in spacious backyards where the client had decorated the trees with lights, set out candles on table, and situated lounge chairs and sofas around the grass to create an outdoor room of sorts, complete with drinking games, a DJ and iPod music and all guests had to do was order whatever they wanted from the nearby parked truck. They’ve also done more banquet-style events, with tables for sitting and a large buffet where the food truck set up a spread of food. You can also hire multiple food trucks for your event; Kogi BBQ in L.A. has done this often for large-scale gatherings like weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs. The only limit here is your imagination.
Looking to hire a food truck to entertain your next gathering? Consider calling a food truck. We have rounded up eleven of the most popular trucks around the nation that cater, providing information on what it costs and what they will offer. Whether you're hosting a small family wedding or a huge reunion, hiring one of these gourmet kitchens-on-wheels is a surefire way to make your party one to remember.
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