The Peached Tortilla launched just two years ago, but since then founder and former litigator Eric Silverstein’s Southern-Asian fusion fare has garnered him and his catering director Mark Tamiso Eater’s 2011 Austin Food Truck of the Year award and, with shout-outs to their brisket and mini crabcake sandwiches, a spot on Food & Wine’s 2012 list of the best sliders in America.
Read More: 101 Best Food Trucks in America 2012
Their efforts also landed them a spot on The Daily Meal's 2012 list of the 101 Best Food Trucks in America. If you're not familiar with The Peached Tortilla, they offer a fairly long menu of tacos and burritos among other options, including riffs on banh mi, Chinese barbecue, and pad thai. And to think, the first "aha" moment came to Silverstein when one of the partners in his former law firm recounted to him how he was telling his son not to go to law school. "If a partner is telling his son to go into a different field," Silverstein recalled thinking to Austinist, "am I going to enjoy this line of work 10 years from now?" Moral of the story? Skip the LSATS and just learn how to pass a health inspection.
In this interview with Silverstein, the truck's founder talks about his inspirations, keeping a level head when things get rough, a new permanent menu addition, and his plans for going brick-and-mortar.
When did you launch your truck?
We launched our truck in September of 2010.
What was the inspiration for going into this business?
There were multiple inspirations. I am passionate about food and wanted to create a concept that served food I would want to eat. I also felt that there was an unsatisfied niche for Asian and Southern inspired tacos in Austin, Texas, so I felt like from a business perspective, it made sense.
What's the story behind the origin of your truck's name?
I spent my youth in Georgia, "The Peach State." I wanted to incorporate that part of my life and the Southern flavors we were introducing into the name of the truck. However, we wanted our name to be playful and different. So instead of just using the word "peach" we switched it up and called ourselves "the peached tortilla."
How did you come up with your truck's design? Is there a designer you'd like to give a shout-out to?
Our logo design work was done by Christine Bielke, a friend of mine who is a designer based out of Wisconsin. I contributed to the layout and the other aspects of design on the truck.
Does your truck have a vanity license plate?
No, it does not!
What model truck do you have?
We have a Wyss Catering Truck (Chevy Step Van).
What's your signature dish? Is it also your most popular dish?
Our signature dish is our banh mi taco; it is also our most popular dish. It includes Vietnamese braised pork belly, pickled daikon/carrot salad, Sriracha mayo, and cilantro.
What's the inspiration for your cuisine and recipes?
I am inspired by the flavors that I have come across throughout my life. This includes the flavors I was exposed to as a child living in Tokyo and also those I came across while living in Atlanta. I am inspired by what I have tasted and the memories that have come with those different experiences.
What's the most challenging thing about running your food truck?
At the end of the day, you are a kitchen on wheels. There will always be problems when you have a mobile kitchen. I think the most challenging thing is keeping a level head while you run into problems on the road. The truck will inevitably break down and need repairs. It's just part of the industry.
Any tips on how to do that?
Put your business into perspective. Your health and family are more important. When your business struggles, focus on what you do have in life. Sometimes your business takes on too much of who you are as a person. That can be dangerous, especially if you cannot figure out a way to separate the two.
If you haven't already, would you ever go brick-and-mortar? And if you have, is there anything you feel gets lost in the transition?
Our plan is to go brick-and-mortar in the near future. I think the brick-and-mortar structure helps further legitimize your business.
What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to get into the food truck business?
It's a hard knock life. It is not a business for the weak-hearted. You have to have true passion for what you are doing and be prepared to work very, very hard.
Any new upcoming dishes planned that you can tell us about?
We plan to introduce kim-cheese balls full time on the menu.
Any new plans on the horizon you can share?
Our brick-and-mortar plans are the biggest thing on the horizon.
Any update on plans, timeline, menu differences, etc.?
We are shooting for a fall 2013 opening. We are going to continue with the "peached" brand, but we are looking to elevate and diversify our food. We want to maintain our accessibility to all types of customers. I think our price points and ambience will reflect that. I can't give too many details, but we are looking at urban Asian comfort food.
Lots of things happen when running a restaurant, and that probably goes double on the road. As such, be it weird, funny, good, or bad, what's one superlative or particularly outstanding moment or story that's ever occurred with your truck be it with customers, in the kitchen, or just in general?
Our biggest moment for our company probably just happened when Formula 1 was in town. We had a truck at the racetracks (Circuit of Americans) and we also ran a huge promotion for the H&M store that was opening in Austin. Between the two events, we served more than 7,500 people. We're incredibly proud of that considering the limited space we operate our business in.
Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Follow Arthur on Twitter.