Authors Posts by Hannah Ashor

Hannah Ashor

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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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


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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get to know your customers

It’s Get To Know Your Customers Day tomorrow.  This official day is occurs on the third Thursday at the beginning of every quarter.  Rather than “celebrating” an official day, we have a feeling that this is more of a daily mantra for food truck owners and operators.

Many of you know your customers already.  You see them at every Abbot Kinney First Fridays in Venice Beach, every Thursday at lunch in front of the Milwaukee County Courthouse, or every Tuesday evening at Heritage Park in Plantation, Florida. They stand in the beating sun and bitter cold to eat your tacos, burgers, grilled cheese, cupcakes and lobster rolls.  You and your staff greet them, share some quick pleasantries and say good-bye until the next time.

get to know your customersWhat do you know about them?  How could you know more about them?  It’s not about knowing their favorite movie, but more so why they choose your food truck over others, what they purchase, how often and their total spend.

Large companies have huge departments of people tracking and studying the purchasing habits of their customers and those of their competitors.  For smaller companies, there is software and different POS systems that are adding those features.  Those are viable options.

We’ve been promoting our partnership with the GiveNetwork in the Fighting Hunger In America Food Truck Initiative.  Now this isn’t a complete customer data tracking system, however, it allows you to know the customers that are actively engaging with your brand’s belief of raising donations for Convoy of Hope and Meals On Wheels to fight hunger.

After a quick registration and small annual fee of $45, at the end of every month you’ll receive a customer list of those that donated using your unique ‘QR Donation Portal.’  Since these are already your customers, you can further engage with them to encourage repeat purchases…and donations.  The goal is, of course, to raise as much funding for these two great non-profit organizations.  All trucks registered by August 30 are entered to win a $500 gas card.

This Initiative actively engages your customers.  Most fund raising efforts require minimal effort on your customers by purchasing something they already planned on buying and donating a portion of the sale.  It’s nice for the customers and affects the truck’s bottom line.

This new and innovative way to engage your customers in actively participating in the donation process builds a sense of community.  Food trucks can offer interesting incentives (not just money or food) to top monthly donors.  Trucks will be able to track what locations have the largest donations.  The marketing communications and donation promotional options are limitless.  We believe this new mobile platform is the tip of the iceberg in the future of the fund-raising industry.

So, get out there and get to know your customers – however you do it.  If you don’t someone else will…

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Off the Grill El Paso

Before you dive into your veggies, get to know the winner of Mobile Cuisine’s 2014 Food Truck BBQ Of The Year Off The Grill of El Paso, Texas!

This young entrepreneur is taking El Paso by storm.  Adrian Padilla’s passion is fueling his every move.  I asked why start this business while you’re still in high school.  This young man of faith answered, “Once God put this plan in my heart, it just didn’t make sense to wait.”

off the grill“The business itself was inspired by a vision my Grandpa kind of planted,” he explained.  Adrian’s close relationship with his Grandfather taught him a lot about business, who had run his own business successfully for 30 years.  His Grandfather saw the spark in Adrian and encouraged him to start out on his own.  When his Grandfather passed away, Adrian shared his plans with his family and supported him without hesitation.  It was a way to honor his Grandfather and continue his legacy.

Every entrepreneur has that spark, but why grilling?  Adrian said he had fun experimenting with rubs, spices and online recipes on his favorite food – MEAT.  For a city known for “insanely good” Mexican food, he wanted to “do something (else) Texas is known for and felt there was a need for more BBQ.”

Off The Grill was conceived as a prelude to a restaurant, and of course, his love for grilling.  Adrian wanted the name to translate well from a truck to a brick’n mortar.  The name got family approval.  Once he had the name, he partnered with Rigo’s graphics to fulfill his vision giving El Paso something that hadn’t seen before.

Adrian’s favorite part of running the truck is having a close relationship with his customers.  He loves meeting new people, getting out and shaking hands (when time allows), sharing food and telling his customers “Have a great day and maintain!”  After a local media outlet profiled him, an unfamiliar woman contacted him.  She and her family were long-time neighbors of his Grandfather.  They came to the truck, enjoyed some food and stuck around to share priceless stories of his Grandparents.  It’s that interaction that keeps him excited and driven.

With all of his success, the lines might be long at the truck.  His favorite dish is the BBQ Taco, infusing his culture into this pulled pork, pico de gallo salsa and a little bit of lime creation.  Oddly, this best seller wasn’t even on his original menu.

off the grill bbqWe asked him where he sees himself in the future.  Joking around he replied, “Ellen!  Ellen!  Ellen!!”  Realistically, he wants to open a brick’n mortar restaurant, but his immediate plans are to “help the food truck industry here in El Paso.  There are so many wonderful, delicious trucks our here.  I’d really like to change that ‘lunch truck’ stigma that most are familiar with.”  With Off The Grill on the streets delivering mouth-watering dishes, we are confident that change will happen.

In his spare time, which we imagine is quite scarce, Adrian likes to DJ.  He loves all genres of music and has been known to bring his DJ equipment along and add to your food trucking experience.  We like the idea of hitting all of your senses with Off The Grill flavor!

Off The Grill was created in the hopes of building on his Grandpa’s family legacy.  “I wanted to be a blessing to my family just as he was to his,” stated Adrian.  We can feel the passion in every move of this young man.  His faith, family and the memory of his Grandfather inspire all that he does.

On his first day at a Food Truck Circus event Adrian exclaimed to his mother, “This is going to be awesome!”  In the short time Off The Grill has been on the road, it certainly has been awesome!  Congratulations on winning!  We’ll be waiting in lines for those awesome pork tacos too!

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Shark Awareness Day

July has a lot of fun “awareness” days.  In fact, today is “International Nude Day” and “Shark Awareness Day.”  International Nude Day may not necessarily apply to any food trucks unless you get a random streaker.

Shark Awareness Day is something altogether different.  Most food truck owners are known to be scratch-made localvores that try to use organic and sustainable products.  That being said, we can’t always know where our seafood is caught or harvested.  Hopefully, the information presented here will give you additional tools to use when selecting the seafood that appears on your menu.

Sharks, shark attacks specifically, are gracing the news more frequently.  Most recently, the attack on the surfer in Manhattan Beach, California brought to light several ocean safety concerns including, but not limited to shark fishing close to shore and the effects of changing ocean temperatures on shark behaviors.

When you buy local produce or meats and poultry, you can usually connect the dots between farmer and distributor and your kitchen.  With seafood, unless you’re fishing for your own food or know the captain directly, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to connect the dots.

Our focus relating to Shark Awareness Day is awareness about how your seafood is caught.  According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium research and conservation site,, you should always ask your seafood provider, “Do you sell sustainable seafood?”  Does the catching method produce large amounts of bycatch?

What is bycatch?  “Bycatch” is marine life caught unintentionally in a fishery that is targeting other fish.  Worldwide fisheries discard an estimated 38.5 million tons of marine life comprising of 40% of the estimated total catch.

shark awareness dayWhat does this have to do with sharks?  According to Shark Savers, most shark bycatch comes from open ocean fishing fleets that target valuable fish, such as, tuna.  Until recently, shark bycatch was considered a nuisance and sharks were cut loose to swim away.  Now that shark fins are so valuable, fleets have little incentive to reduce shark bycatch.  Where sharks used to be released alive are now “finned” with their bodies dumped at sea.  An estimated 50 million sharks are caught unintentionally.

Fishing methods that produce the most shark bycatch are longlines, bottom trawling, and gillnetting.  We don’t need to fully educate you on fishing methods, just give you a tool to buy your seafood responsibly and sustainably.

We found the Monterey Bay Aquarium Buyer’s Guide a valuable resource for chefs, seafood professionals and consumers alike.  This reference guide lists the best choices to items to avoid.  The list is updated monthly and is also available in an app – great to use while at the store or when you’re dining out.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium and countless other organizations encourage you to make your buying decisions responsibly.  Together we can save the oceans…one meal at a time.

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Cheer Up The Lonely

Cheer Up The LonelyToday is Cheer Up The Lonely Day!  You may wonder why we’d cover a “holiday” like this?  Well, that’s an easy response.  Mobile Cuisine, along with the GiveNetwork and GiveMobi, has been promoting Fighting Hunger In America where the donations are donated to Convoy of Hope and Meals On Wheels.

As you know, Meals On Wheels is instrumental in feeding America’s elderly that are on a fixed-income, homebound, and without a network of friends and family to help them out.  Meals are delivered directly to their homes.  Sometimes that contact is all they have with the outside world with any regularity.

By registering here or clicking on the link in our homepage, you’ll enable your customers to donate to these two great organizations that not only cheer up the lonely, but also provide food and services to people in need around the country.

Join other food trucks that have already registered to make a difference, like Dogs On Wheels, The Grilled Cheese Truck and Baba’s Big Bite.  Register your truck by August 30 and get entered to win a $500 gas card.  The drawing will be held on September 1.  That’ll be a nice way to end the summer food truck season!  It’s easy to register and lets your customers actively engage with your brand with every donation.

Take a moment to cheer up a lonely person today.  Whether it’s a grandparent, neighbor or distant friend, you can always brighten someone’s day.  By registering your truck in Fighting Hunger In America, you’ll be cheering up lonely people on an ongoing basis… and feeding them with every customer donation!

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Off the Grill El Paso

Congratulations to the Off The Grill food truck of El Paso, Texas!  They are the winner of Mobile Cuisine’s 2014 Food Truck BBQ of the Year!  We’re very excited for this young entrepreneur.

Every story leads with owner Adrian Padilla’s age, but we want to learn more about what drives him and his passion for award-winning BBQ.  He’s only been on the streets since November and all we see is an upward trajectory for him.

We’ll learn more about Adrian, his BBQ, his future plans and the smoky, saucy goodness that put him on top.

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

2. B Daddy BBQ – San Antonio, TX
3. Gotta Q – Providence, RI
4. Pigs Eatin’ Ribs – Charlevoix, MI
5. Kosmos Q – Oklahoma City, OK

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

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