Authors Posts by Hannah Ashor

Hannah Ashor

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Hannah Ashor is a marketing professional turned co-founder and contributing author to Mobile Cuisine Magazine. She is proud to be a part of this new and exciting sector of the food service industry. She is fueled by the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in those she meets regularly. Using her event planning background, she organized Chicago’s first food truck event series; the first of it’s kind in the city. Since that summer, Hannah has met with folks on all sides of the industry and shared it online with the Mobile Cuisine readers.Hannah’s enthusiasm, coupled with her event marketing background makes her editorial contribution a vital part of the organization.

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roam conference

The second annual ROAM Conference came to life in San Antonio over the weekend, November 8-9.  The ROAM Conference is THE place for food truck industry professionals, those that plan to start their own food truck and those that supply the industry.  Everyone came together to learn, exchange ideas and grow the industry overall.

2014 Roam Wide

There were concurrent sessions of the Food Truck Academy (FTA) for people interested in starting a food truck and those already in the business looking for best practices.  The FTA covered many topics from developing your menu concept to franchising your existing business.

2014 Roam 2Session speakers included marketing guru Barb Upchurch and City of Madison representative Warren Hansen.  Food truck/cart owners Matt Breslow of the Grilled Cheese Grill in Portland, OR and Brian Reed of Mojo Tago in Columbus, Ohio accompanied them.  Other speakers included Mobile Cuisine’s Richard Myrick and FoodTrucksIn owner Eric Weiner.  There were a lot of brains to pick!

General session speakers included familiar face Matt Geller, CEO of the SoCal MVFA and on the Board of Directors of the National Food Truck Association, local San Antonio Food Truck Association Co-Founder Sameer Siddiqui, and Brett Burmeister, the owner of Food Carts Portland.  Their insights and experience in association planning, organizing and knowing when to challenge the “system” are still very relevant.

2014 Roam 1The exhibitor space, which had doubled since 2013, was a great cross-section of industry service providers.  Fledgling food truck owners could speak to marketing, insurance, food service, POS, and truck builder professionals.  It was a comprehensive one-stop-shop for industry knowledge and networking opportunities.

The dates for the 2015 ROAM Conference are October 25-26, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  We’re excited to continue our association with ROAM and think the 2015 Conference will be even more exciting and informative.  It will only get bigger!  Mark your calendars now and check into ROAMConference.com for updates and information.

All roads lead to ROAM.

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Grilled Cheese Truck Give Mobi

We’ve all heard of THE Grilled Cheese Truck of Los Angeles.  It’s been everywhere in the media over the years.  It’s one of those success stories that America loves to hear – “Local guy makes good.”

Well, “makes good” is an understatement for sure.  Dave Danhi started The Grilled Cheese Truck in 2009.  Danhi is a professional chef that just wanted his life back.  He created the truck’s signature sandwich, the Cheesy Mac ‘N Rib, and a new chapter to his story began.

In this new chapter of his life, he’s done something he never dreamed of — creating a new American iconic brand.  The Grilled Cheese Truck is the only verified food truck on Twitter (that little blue check mark) and is the most followed food truck on Facebook.

Not wanting to stop the momentum, Danhi added more trucks to his fleet in Southern California and expanded into Arizona. Wanting to do “more,” Danhi’s expansion plan includes reaching out to returning U.S. veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Danhi is thrilled to be working with General Wesley Clark on this endeavor.

Despite his amazing success, Danhi has always kept an eye out to give back to his community.  He recently teamed up with the Orange County Rescue Mission to assist veterans.  Most recently he’s joined the food truck initiative Fighting Hunger In America.

Mobile Cuisine has partnered with the GiveNetwork to promote the food truck initiative Fighting Hunger In America.  This initiative allows trucks to facilitate donations by their customers.  While using their smartphones, customers scan unique QR codes posted on trucks that will allow them to easily donate.  The proceeds are split between two great non-profit organizations, Meals On Wheels Association of America and Convoy Of Hope.

At the close of every month, food trucks will receive by email a list of the donors that scanned their QR code.  We believe this is a great way to speak directly to those customers that have shown deeper brand engagement.  Danhi and The Grilled Cheese Truck are in the process of creating a customer loyalty program and will single out donors with special offers.  He mentioned a “get out of line pass,” but nothing has been confirmed.  Special offers to donors are a great tool to encourage repeat donations AND purchases.

Trucks that register by May 31 are entered to win a $500 gas card.  What truck couldn’t use that?

We are thrilled that Dave Danhi and The Grilled Cheese Truck are Fighting Hunger In America.  Welcome aboard and we can’t wait to hear more about your future successes.

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Let’m Eat Bräts
Congratulations to Let’m Eat Bräts!

We’re celebrating the winner of Flo’s Fabulous Food Truck ContestLet’m Eat Bräts!!  Authentic German cuisine has come to the Wichita, Kansas area brought to you by German-born and raised Manuela “Manu” English and her Let’m Eat Bräts food truck.

After learning about the contest from her daughter, English considered entering.  It took a bigger push from her daughter to finally enter the contest.  English knew exactly how she’d use the winnings on her 1970 GMC truck, but never dreamed she’d actually win.

Her daughter developed a social media campaign to encourage customer votes in the contest.  They, along with the Wichita food truck community, overwhelmingly supported Let’m Eat Bräts’ candidacy in Progressive Commercial’s contest.  There were over 25 entries.  “We never knew we were that lucky!” exclaimed English about their win.

With the prize, English will be outfitting her food truck with a new diesel generator that will be able to supply all of her cooking equipment more efficiently.  Additionally, it’ll keep the inside of the truck cooler in the summer and warmer during the winter.  Weather in Kansas can be quite extreme.  This new generator will allow her to be on the streets more often in the winter to serve her customers.

Let’m Eat BrätsAfter becoming a U.S. citizen a year ago, English realized her “American Dream” by starting her own business.  She is thrilled that it allows her to share her German heritage and food.  Not only is it the food she loves, it’s what she grew up on.  She loves the interaction with her customers and making their taste buds happy.  Many of them tell her that her food “tasted just like my grandma’s!”  Sometimes there’s no finer compliment.

There’s a brät for everyone.  If you like it traditional, Let’m Eat Bräts has them – beer, cheddar, wiesswurst, and even currywurst.  Other bräts and dishes, such as, schnitzel sandwiches, bierocks, Italian mozzarella bräts and German potato salad are on her regular menu.  English runs regular specials and offers different scratch-made cakes weekly on the truck.

Throughout October, they’re celebrating OktoberFest in their own way.  Don’t be surprised if you see her all dressed up and offering deals and discounts with a German culture trivia questions via their social media.

Manuela English’s background is in all sides of the restaurant industry, but still couldn’t do the job alone.  Her family helps out too.  Her husband and mother-in-law can sometimes be found working on the truck along with her assistant April.  Her daughter helps with all things media related and her son brings customers.

We always ask about a food truck’s future plans.  English says they’re happy right where they are now.  Customers are asking for a restaurant, but she’s not in a huge rush to scout one out just yet.  We’ll be watching them to see how her bratwurst empire grows.

Congratulations to Manuela English and Let’m Eat Bräts on winning Flo’s Fabulous Food Truck Contest!  You are truly deserving of the winnings.  A special thank you goes out to all of the entrants.  You’re all FABULOUS in our book!

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Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza

Congratulations to the Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza Truck from Albertville, Alabama for winning the Mobile Cuisine 2014 Pizza Food Truck of the Year!

Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza: Pizza Food Truck Profile

This duo has hit the Huntsville, Alabama food truck scene with a bang.  Business partners Tina Ford and Stan Stinson opened their doors, um… their wood-firing pizza oven, in May 2013.  With over a year in business, the Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza Truck is a mainstay of the Huntsville food truck scene.

Earth & Stone Wood Fired PizzaFord and Stinson, with their backgrounds in Marketing and Operations respectively, have taken to making pizzas quite well.  They couldn’t do it without the help of their “pizza guru,” Kevin Lindsey.  “Kevin can make pizzas so fast, we barely have time to finish the transaction before he has it in the oven.  It’s quite amazing to watch him slap a pizza, top it and it be so beautiful and well made,” comments Ford.

The Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza Truck has many delicious flavor combinations.  Their best seller is aptly called The Favorite, of course.  This pizza is made with their signature white sauce, a mozzarella/provolone blend, Italian sausage, thinly sliced red onion and topped with fresh basil.  “The combination of flavors is phenomenal,” boasts Ford.

The Favorite sounds incredible.  They have many other pizzas to tickle your taste buds, like their seasonal pizza available in the Fall.  It’s got their signature white sauce and cheese blend and it’s covered in roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, goat cheese and fresh basil.  With combinations like that, we can see why they were voted the best pizza food truck!

Like many food truck operators, their favorite part about running the truck is meeting their customers.  They love greeting their customers and are always excited to watch them eat their pizzas.  One of their favorite customer stories took place at a corporate event where a self-proclaimed “pizza expert” was skeptical about getting good pizza from a mobile oven.

Earth & Stone Wood Fired PizzaNeedless to say, he’s now a regular customer that LOVES their pizza.  “I giggle every time I think about that day that changed his life forever as far as pizza is concerned,” comments Ford.  We love the idea of changing people’s perception of mobile food – one dish at a time.

In addition to the three of them, their families have been instrumental in getting the business off the ground.  From consulting and additional pizza-making hands, one person stands out.  Stan’s father. He has been the official taste tester and their biggest fan from the beginning.  That’s a pretty awesome job.

We asked if they’d served anyone famous.  “We are working on that!”  Apparently, if the chart-topping, country/pop singer and pizza lover, Taylor Swift, ever hires them for a catering job, their daughters agreed to work for free for the rest of their lives.  Someone needs to put a shout-out to the Swift camp!  As Ford jokes, “Who wouldn’t want free labor from their children for the rest of their lives?”

We wondered if there were plans for expansion or even a brink’n mortar in the future.  The answer is yes.  They’re considering both.  They don’t like turning down events.  When fresh, delicious pizza is made in front of you, we imagine the demand to be high.

We’re extremely happy for their success.  Congratulations to the Tina and Stan on their continued hard work and pizza-creating mastery!  Your customers love you and we’re excited that you won the 2014 Mobile Cuisine Pizza Food Truck of the Year!

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Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza

The Best Pizza Food Truck is Here!

Congratulations to Huntsville, Alabama’s Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza for winning Mobile Cuisine’s 2014 Pizza Food Truck of the Year!

Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza is sharing their delicious wood-fired pizzas with Huntsville locals and throughout the Southeast United States.  Stan and Tina’s handmade pizzas are made to order with the freshest ingredients have their customers raving and wanting more.

We’ll learn more about Stan and Tina and their award-winning pizza soon.  Congratulations to Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza and their enthusiastic voters/diners!

Rounding out our top 5 Pizza Food Trucks for 2014 are:

2. Saucee Sicilian – Oklahoma City, OK

3. Little Luna Pizza – El Paso, TX

4. Chicago Pizza Boss – Chicago, IL

5. Pi Pizza – Houston, TX

We would like to thank all of the competitors as well as to all of our readers who voted.

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cinnamon snail

Congratulations to the Cinnamon Snail for winning the 2014 Vegetarian Food Truck of the Year!!  This is the third year in a row!  We’re very excited to bestow this title on The Cinnamon Snail, Chef Adam Sobel and his team – AGAIN!

Chef Sobel was so excited he ate his clothes!  Just kidding.  I’m not sure if chef’s jackets are vegan.

2014 Vegetarian Food Truck Of The Year Profile: Cinnamon Snail

Asked what keeps Chef Sobel going being in an industry filled with roadblocks, he replies that he’s driven to “spreading a non-violent lifestyle to the mainstream.”  “People come to our truck regularly and tell us that they became vegetarian or vegan because of our food.  Continuing our hustle is a matter of life and death to creatures who will not be consumed,” states Chef Sobel.

He’s passionate about veganism and wants to spread “the word” through his food.  It’s usually a lot easier to get someone to consider a plant-based diet when they have a mouthful of delicious food.

After a passion for food, customers give him that drive to work so hard.  Chef Sobel listens to his customers when they tell him about what they currently love and would love to see in his food in the future.  He also tries to go where his customers want him to go.

He’s had so many fun customer experiences over the years.  They’ve fed all kinds of people – from upper west side suits to clowns in full make-up and luchadors.  In fact, a lady threw a tortilla at them this week.  “It’s fantastic!”

What Chef Sobel lives for is witnessing a die-hard carnivore fall in love with his plant-based dishes.  “If we can chip away at people’s reasons for why they still eat animals (flavor/enjoyment), soon all remaining excuses crumble,” comments Chef Sobel.

cinnamon snail donutThe Cinnamon Snail is often found in the media and winning awards.  “We’ve always been really blessed to get a lot of attention as a food truck.”  It’s natural that Chef Sobel continues to challenge himself creatively in the kitchen changing people’s perspectives on plant-based food and to keep customers curious for new creations and fantastic staples, like their vanilla bourbon crème brulee donut.  That donut alone sends crowds to his truck.

When asked about the inspiration behind his menu, you know he could say something traditional – that he cooks from his soul – or something similar to that.  Because he’s asked this question so frequently he’s gotten as creative with his answers as he is with his menu. “Our menu is chosen at random by a foam crafted pirate robot we call Cyn-B@d.  He’s hot.  And he’s bothered.  So we don’t ask questions.  We just do what he says and hopes he doesn’t make us walk the plank!”

That was the BEST answer ever.  We also liked the alien mothership reference too!

Should you choose to try your hand a vegan cooking at home, you’re in luck.  Chef Sobel’s book, Street Vegan:  Delicious Dispatches from the Cinnamon Snail Food Truck, will be out in May 2015.

He had been asked to write one for years, but he finally felt like his cooking and teaching ability were mature enough to really make something as special as a book.  He mentions his food is very component-y and many recipes had to be rewritten from the ground-up to work in home kitchens and in normal sized portions.  The book also gave him the opportunity to share recipes like vegan Chinese buns or dumplings that are not served off the truck due to space or specialty equipment needs.

If you don’t see the Cinnamon Snail in your area, you can get tickets to the 10th Annual NYC Vendy Awards this Saturday in Governor’s Island where they’re official finalists.  Chef Sobel has a tempting dish he’s preparing just for the event – sage tempeh sausage sliders, lavender roasted shallots and roasted habanero hot sauce on their battered cauliflower buffalo wing sub.  “It’s going to be wild!” It sounds wild!  It’s their 5th year nominated for the NYC Vendy Awards.  He’s working hard for the Vendy Cup his year…

We’ve got our fingers crossed for you!  Congratulations on your THIRD win as the Mobile Cuisine 2014 Vegetarian/Vegan Food Truck of the Year!

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national senior citizens day

“For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute.  We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older,” said President Ronald Reagan as he signed his Presidential Proclamation officially declaring August 21 National Senior Citizens Day.

Do you have any seniors in your daily lives?  Your parents, grandparents, neighbors, customers?  What do you really know about their lives?  On a personal note, I knew my grandfather worked for one of the Big 3 auto companies in Detroit.  What I didn’t know was that he was a part of the sit-down strikes to unionize the factories.  I learned this one random night and regret not learning more.  The twinkle in his eyes and the excitement in his voice were palpable.  Before that, he was my grandpa.  After that night, he was a man that was a part of history, a designer, a builder and had this whole life outside of the family.

National Senior Citizens Day is supposed to remind us to spend time with senior citizens, show our appreciation, and do volunteer work in support of the elderly.

get to know your customersMobile Cuisine has partnered with the GiveNetwork to promote the Fighting Hunger In America Food Truck Initiative.  Food trucks register in the Initiative and encourage their customers to scan the unique QR code where their tax-exempt donation goes to Convoy of Hope and Meals On Wheels.  There’s a bit more to it, but not much.

Today, this Initiative is even more relevant.  The mission of Meals On Wheels is elderly care and nutrition.  1 in 6 Americans over the age of 60 face the threat of hunger.  That’s 9.3 million people!  2.5 million seniors receive home-delivered or congregate meals via Meals On Wheels programs.  That’s incredible, but doing the math, nearly 7 million seniors are still in need of nutrition.

On this day especially, we encourage all food trucks to register to Fight Hunger In America.  For all those that register by the end of this month, you’ll be entered to win a $500 gas card.

Don’t forget to celebrate today – with a friend, a parent, a grandparent, a neighbor or a customer.  Remember, there are many out there that need a little bit extra and food trucks and your customers can make a difference!

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Wingmen logo

Corey Simmons and Ramone Dickerson have been friends since grade school.  Now a days, they run the first food truck to hit Columbia, South Carolina, 2 Fat 2 Fly – the un-clucking-believably good stuffed chicken wings.  Stuffed?  Aw yeah!

The Wingmen cometh…  2 Fat 2 Fly was first introduced to the world in Season 2 of Eat St…  and everyone took notice, especially, the producers at Paperny Entertainment and the Oprah Winfrey Network.  The first episode of Wingmen finds the 2 Fat 2 Fly team in the middle of the question that all food truck owners face: How do we take our business to the next level?

This first episode follows Ramone and Corey to a wing festival that offers them exposure to a bunch of new customers and possibly some investors.  While on their journey, we’ll meet their families and friends.

Ramone and Corey have big plans for the future of their stuffed wings.  If their plans for world wing domination are fulfilled, you’ll see a nationwide fleet of trucks and their wings in every grocer.  We can only hope! 

Wingmen airs this Saturday, August 16 at 10pm/9c on the Oprah Winfrey Network.  Check your local listings.  Support the ever-growing food truck community!

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wingmen tv logo

You know that feeling when you look out your service window and realize there’s something more?  Best friends Corey Simmons and Ramone Dickerson, the owners of the 2 Fat 2 Fly Stuffed Wing food truck, felt that way as they searched for another parking space in their home of Columbia, South Carolina.

A couple of years earlier, Eat St. paid them a visit during Season 2.  Asked how they prepared for such an occasion, both joked, “No different than any other night.  Maybe a little more sleep than usual.”  They were excited and had no idea what to expect.  The experience was fantastic and gave them additional recognition, but ultimately didn’t translate into higher sales.

Lynne Kirby, Executive Vice President of Programming of Paperny Entertainment in New York “fell in love” with Ramone and Corey.  Honestly, it’s difficult not to.  The two kept in touch since the Eat St. filming looking for the right opportunity to work together again.  Wingmen was created.  Wingmen follows these two culinary creative yet not-so-savvy businessmen through their journey to build 2 Fat 2 Fly into a household name.

Their stuffed wings create new fans with every bite.  Many have asked about their stuffing method, myself included.  This magical stuffing method remains in the confines of their secret Willy Wonka-style factory, although they claim they MIGHT unlock this secret if the show is picked up for a full season.  I imagine that Oprah has that sort of power… and we really want to see their “BBQ sauce pond!”

Spending more than a few minutes with Ramone and Corey will bring you to tears with laughter.  “How can you not fall in love with them?” said Kirby.  We couldn’t agree more.  You end up rooting for this stuffed-wing flavor-making team to go big!

These guys are always together.  I asked how they handle everyday conflicts.  Corey replied, “When we disagree, we take time to hear each other out.  We continue to learn about each other every day.”  Ramone concurred, “Arguing is a lost art form.  Most of the time pride gets in the way of seeing each other’s side.”  Corey chimed in, “It’s hard to stay mad at someone that makes delicious butter pecan ice cream.”  You can’t really argue with that.

The exclusive sneak peek of Wingmen on the OWN site suggests they’re not business-savvy, which is not uncommon for first-time food truck owners.  Wingmen shows “our lives, our happiness, and our sadness.  It’s all of it.  On and off the truck,” explained Ramone.  This is not a “business rescue” or “investor” type show.  There aren’t any guest experts or surprise cash offerings.  It’ll be the “adventures” of Corey and Ramone as they make decisions that will change and expand their fledgling business.  “We’re still stumbling through solving the biggest questions of ‘how,’” said Corey.

When they’re not in the truck, which is not often, you can find Ramone teaching cooking classes at Charleston Cooks.  He’s met many accomplished chefs… although none of them have created THE stuffed wing!  Sometimes you’ll find Ramone splurging on a new guitar while Corey sings along.  One night, after a large event they even decided to “get the band back together” and got a bunch of equipment and jammed.  Sometimes they’ll visit clubs while on the road with Sean and Joey, who have been with them since the beginning.  “We take care of truck demand, then we run wild,” joked Ramone.

When asked WHY these guys, Kirby replied that they represent the “great American dream.”  Corey and Ramone started this venture with a crazy culinary idea believing, like so many entrepreneurs, they will make it big.  It’s been a few years and they’re ready to take their business to the next level.  They are thinking franchises, fleets of trucks, and their signature stuffed wings in every grocer.  Kirby wanted to share their inspiring story.  “They’re at a crossroads in their business and we want to share their experience – the good, bad and everything in between.  You’ll feel good about rooting for them,” commented Kirby.

Wingmen is a new kind of food truck show.  It’ll show you how two guys with a dream of world wing domination stumble through the trappings of business expansion without outside help.  It’s just them, their culinary spirit of adventure and the challenges all business owners face.

Tune in to Wingmen on the Oprah Winfrey Network this Saturday, August 16 at 10pm/9c.

Be sure to join us on Twitter as we LIVE tweet during the show. Track us down @FoodTruckChat or join the conversation with #foodtruckchat.

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william kellogg

For this week’s 5 on Friday we spoke with the owner of the Maryland based food truck, L’iL Mack’s Barbecue. We wanted to learn more about him, his food and why he decided to join the mobile food industry – and share it with our readers.

Name: William Kellogg

Age: 56

Food Truck Name: L’iL Mack’s Barbecue

Twitter:  n/a

Website:  www.festivalnet.com/lil_mack

Location: Maryland

Year started in the mobile food industry: 2005

Mobile Cuisine:  Why did you become a food truck owner/chef?  

William Kellogg: To carry on the tradition started by my father-in-law.

MC: What was the inspiration for your menu and how did you settle on your food offerings?  

WK: My menu selection was based on the items my father-in-law sold in his restaurant for over 50 years.   It worked well for him & I knew that I wanted to follow in his footsteps by making the best eastern north Carolina minced pork barbecue and starting a new tradition of offering minced turkey barbecue.

MC: Do you have a favorite moment since opening your food truck?

WK: Yes.  I have to say my favorite moment occurs each time I open up the windows of the trailer at each event I vend.  It’s my “aha” moment.

MC: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself and your food truck in 2 and 5 years?

WK: Right now my wife, son & I are vending on a seasonal basis as my son & I have permanent full time jobs.  I plan to retire in 2015 and devote my time to traveling across the northeastern US to vend festivals and continue spreading the food truck fighting hunger initiative.

MC: What one tip or piece of advice do you wish you had been given before opening your food truck?

WK: If it’s not broke don’t fix it.   Stick with what has been successful over the years.  Change may be inevitable, but not always in your best interest.  Wise advice passed down from my father-in-law.

BONUS:  Why did you choose to join the food truck initiative Fighting Hunger In America?  How do you plan to encourage donations?

WK: My family & I wanted to give back and the food truck initiative allows us to present the idea to a new wave of future donors.  We have printed flyers that gives a brief overview of the Fighting Hunger in America goal & mission and we hope this will encourage folks to participate and donate.  In addition, we have also incorporated the info & website on our customer receipts.

If you’d like more information about joining the Give Network Food Truck Fights Against Hunger, check out this article.

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