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Whole Foods Market, 6701 Red Rd., Coral Gables, hosts the first round of a food-truck chefs’ cook-off at 6 p.m. Thursday with Jim Heinz (Latin Burger & Taco) and Robyn Almodovar (The Palate Party) getting $20 and 20 minutes to shop and another 20 minutes to cook.

The grilling competition, which is free to watch, continues at the same time Aug. 9 with Alfredo Montero (Mr. Good Stuff) and Eileen Andrade (CubanCube) and Aug. 16 with a championship round; 305-421-9421.

Summer means big concerts, and this summer is no exception. Listening to Dave Matthews and Kiss at Cruzan Amphiteatre might make your tummy rumbly. While hungry concertgoers take in the biggest acts this side of the Mississippi, chef Dave Rashty and his Stocked ‘N’ Loaded food trucks will have them covered.


No more soggy fries and overcooked meats; this summer at the Cruzan Amphitheatre means gourmet selections. While on a County Grind assignment at last Tuesday’s Unity Tour, Clean Plate Charlie was able to catch up with Rashty, a French Culinary Institute graduate and former apprentice to world famous chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.

“Its strictly about good food,” said Rashty, who recently signed a contract with Aramark that tripled his number of active trucks. “When you use quality ingredients and make good food, people will know and taste the difference.”

That difference was one of many reasons Aramark chose Rashty and his Stocked ‘N’ Loaded food trucks to be their exclusive gourmet vendor at Cruzan. An Aramark representative approached Rashty through a mutual friend. At the time, Rashty was living in Boca Raton and working equestrian events In Wellington.

“I had a lot of good press,” Rashty said when asked what made him stand out among a slew of qualified vendors. “That was half the battle.”

Rashty’s truck won the Palm Beach Post’s Best Food Truck award in 2011 and was featured in last October’s South Florida Business Journal. The reason why was evident at Cruzan last Tuesday as 311 and Slightly Stoopid fans rushed Rashty’s food trucks, which now number three after the deal prompted and afforded him the opportunity to expand.

“My advice to anyone looking to start a food truck is to do research, talk to other truck owners, and make really good food using quality ingredients,” Rashty said. “I’m available anytime to anyone interested.”

Find the entire article by Kareem Shaker at browardpalmbeach.com <here>


Photo | Jim Carchidi

The state of Florida may no longer require mobile food trucks to have a “commissary,” or home-base restaurant, if they’re fully self-sufficient.

Currently, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations Division of Hotels and Restaurants requires food trucks and theme park food carts to have a commissary, even when they’re fully self-sufficient. The food trucks go to the commissary daily to get rid of garbage, prep and store food, etc.

The department is accepting comments until Aug. 10. To weigh in on the proposed rule, contact:

Michelle Comingore, Operations Review Specialist, Division of Hotels and Restaurants, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, 1940 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399, (850)488-1133, Michelle.Comingore@dbpr.state.fl.us


kona ice

The traditional, music playing ice cream trucks from the past are being revamped into bigger, cleaner and more interactive mobile businesses in South Florida following the food truck craze.

Ice cream vendors who once only offered pre-packaged frozen deserts from a cooler, are expanding their offerings to include shakes, hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches and even a flavor station where customers can choose and pour their own syrup.

Tony Lamb, founder of Kona Ice, a shaved ice cream truck chain based in Kentucky, created his business from the mind-set of a concerned parent.

“I remember taking my own daughter to get ice cream from a rickety old truck, where the ice cream was freezer burnt and the owner wasn’t wearing a shirt and smoking, shouting at people passing by to get their attention,” Lamb said. “I just started thinking of all the ways I could improve this.”

Johnny and Sabrina Daswani from Weston, were the first franchisee to operate a Kona Ice truck in South Florida. The island-themed truck sells shaved ice and offers a “Flavorwave” on the exterior where customers can choose their own combinations of flavoring.

“We’ve had a really warm welcome,” said Sabrina Daswani, whose truck first hit the streets of Broward County two months ago. “It feels like a success when we have adults and kids waiting for the truck just as we arrive.”

The couple has plans to unroll a total of eight trucks throughout Broward County in the future, Lamb said.

City governments in Palm Beach and Broward counties began outlawing ice cream trucks and other street vendors from their neighborhoods years ago, including Coral Springs which passed an ordinance in the early ’80s. Pembroke Pines considered a similar ban.

Find the entire article from sun-sentinel.com <here>


Friar truck wreckage

Robb Muise doesn’t want to be known as the guy whose “food truck was destroyed on day one,” but that’s the unfortunate reality for the Oakland Park entrepreneur. His recently-completed food truck, Friar Tuck’s, was totaled on June 13 in an accident on the Florida Turnpike. The crash  occurred as Muise, his wife Abby Muise, and a friend were on their way to a food truck rally in West Palm Beach where they planned to debut the new, eco-friendly sandwich and snack truck.

Muise was driving a pick-up truck that was towing the food truck — outfitted in a revamped 31-foot Airstream — in rush-hour traffic when he lost control of the two vehicles after encountering stopped traffic. Fluctuations in speed are difficult to navigate in larger vehicles, and as Muise notes, fast braking is nearly impossible. Muise was forced to steer the two vehicles onto the shoulder, where the Airstream collided with a pole. Read Muise’s full account of the crash here.

“It was so surreal when it happened,” Muise said. “Six months of work is gone in ten seconds.” Much to Muise’s relief and amazement, no other vehicles were involved in the accident and no one inside the pickup truck suffered any injuries. “We missed everybody in rush hour traffic.”

The Airstream was destroyed in the crash and to salt the wounds further, Muise received a traffic citation for failure to have the brakes hooked up on the Airstream. “We had it checked out by two U-Haul (rental companies) in Virginia and Maryland and they told us that it was not a model that had brakes, so we never questioned it,” Muise said.
Because all of the couple’s finances were wrapped up in the launch of Friar Tuck’s, they have gone into recovery mode and Muise is working to get a new truck up and running as quickly as possible.
“Literally, the day of the accident, we ran out of money,” Muise said, explaining that they were counting on income from that first truck rally to carry them through. “I have a month to do this…We need an ’80s montage where everyone in the neighborhood comes in and paints the truck.”
Friends and family — and fans — have stepped up to help launch the second incarnation of Friar Tuck’s and Muise cites the outpouring of support as crucial in his efforts to rebuild. His father-in-law has donated an eleven-by-seven-foot trailer and a master carpenter is on board to build a new structure designed to look like an old English pub. A family friend (whose teen son was looking forward to working for Muise in the food truck) has given the couple a small — but critical — loan to help them stay afloat until they can begin bringing in income from the truck.

Find the entire article by Tricia Woolfenden at browardpalmbeach.com <here>

Friar Tuck’s

Twitter: @friartucksfl

Serving gourmet burgers, sammiches, and tater tots, out of a vintage airstream, throughout South Florida. Best food in the shire!

South Florida · http://friartucks.me

latin burger

Two years ago, fewer than six food trucks existed in South Florida. Now, there are more than 120.

In November 2009, Jim Heins sent out his first tweet as owner of Latin Burger and Taco.

He’d spent the previous year in the Caribbean, much of it in St. Bart’s, where Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write “Cheeseburger in Paradise” after spending time in a dive bar called Le Select.

“I should open a hamburger restaurant like the places I like to hang out in the Caribbean,” Heins remembers saying on his return to Miami. Within months, Heins had created what is believed to be the first food truck in South Florida. Before long, about a half-dozen food trucks roamed the streets of South Florida.

“How many food trucks are there now?” I ask Heins.

“There must be 125 plus,” he says. “About 100 too many.”

Call it good old-fashioned capitalism, but 2012 will surely be known as the great food truck shakeout. Some trucks will expand. Others will close. Latin Burger is looking to open not one, but two brick and mortar locations.

To keep tabs on what the trucks are selling and where they’re setting up shop, the Sun Sentinel has created an online food-truck directory at SunSentinel.com/foodtrucks. Here, you’ll find links to the websites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of more than 110 South Florida food trucks. So whether you’re a vegan (Mac’n Soul Good) or a carnivore (Porkalicious), in the mood for a jerk-chicken sandwich (the Rolling Stove) or stromboli (Nana’s Original Stromboli), you can find a truck on the directory.

While Heins is hard at work finding space to open his first Latin Burger and Taco restaurants, his burgers can be periodically found on the menu of Tobacco Road in downtown Miami. They will reappear on the menu throughout February.

“The market has changed,” Heins says. “But early on, I recognized the power of the Latin Burger brand. The timing was right. TheFood Network covered us. I spent the last couple of years making sure we go the food right.”

Along with his own restaurants, Heins is exploring the possibility of offering frozen Latin Burger patties in supermarkets. “If we can master it,” he says, “we’ll do it frozen.”

After its success as a Miami restaurant, Sakaya Kitchen started a food truck called Dim Ssäm à gogo. Chef Ze Carlos Jimenez has opened the MexZican Gourmet restaurant on South Dixie highway in Miami, an outgrowth of his popular food truck. Likewise, Jefe’s Original Fish Taco and Burgers, Latin House Grill and Yellow Submarine are working toward the same goal, says Sef Gonzalez, who last year created a smartphone app to track Miami food trucks.

Gonzalez, who’s also known as the Burger Beast, gives an annual award to South Florida’s best food truck and best food-truck burger. He’s been monitoring the food-truck scene since its inception.

Find the entire article by John Tanasychuk,  from the SunSentinel.com <here>

SEBRING, FL – Entrepreneurs could seek a lawsuit against the county, and the municipalities, claiming local ordinances restrict and are hindering their rights to conduct business.

“Well, we are trying to work this out with the county, but right now their ordinances keep us from doing business and creating jobs,” said Jim Martin, president of the Florida Hot Dog Vendors Association.


Martin, and several others, discovered that it was illegal for them to vend along county roads or on county property like beaches and boat ramps and the municipalities down right prohibited vendors.

“We just want to be able to sell our products and conduct business; right now the county and the cities are keeping us from doing that,” Martin said.

Martin sought out a solution by addressing the county commission in August, but has seen no progress on the issue, he said.

“We approached them and thought we were making headway. Now we are tabled indefinitely, leaving us in limbo. We can’t wait forever; we have a business to run,” Martin said.

Martin added that he felt commissioners and county staff were not making “business and job creation” a high priority and that the city governments would not even discuss the matter with him, he said.

According to Martin, if the county lifted its ban on vending, he and several others would be able to sell six days a week instead of waiting on events, and that could put not only him, but an additional six to eight people to work.

“We pay, as an average, $10 per hour for help. I know that I would put people to work right away, and so would the other guys. It’s a matter of being allowed to do business. The county is stifling the opportunity,” Martin insisted.

Martin discovered in July that the county, as well as the municipalities, have ordinances in place that prohibit someone from setting up and selling products without a brick-and-mortar store, and say that is a violation of their rights under the Florida Constitution.

“We don’t want to seek legal action if we can avoid it. Right now there are suits in other communities filed by the Institute for Justice seeking to reverse ordinances that prohibit vendors like us,” Martin said.

“I am making a formal request to the Institute to file suit. I have talked to several of their attorneys, and they are willing to look at our case,: Martin said.

The Institute for Justice filed suit in October against the city of Hialeah for prohibiting vendors like Martin.

Find the entire article from NewsSun.com <here>

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Spurred by the food truck craze in Northeast and West Coast cities, and shows like the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race,” more and more Floridians are jumping on the food truck bandwagon.

The number of food trucks has grown by 10.5 percent in the past year, a growth rate higher than any other business licensed by the state, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation reports.

Bite Gastrotruck

Hot dog vendors and traditional lunch trucks – selling plastic-wrapped sandwiches, coffee and soda – are still making the rounds. But increasingly, the new applications are from trained chefs selling restaurant-quality food, who see a truck as a low-cost starting place to build a clientele for an eventual brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Ron Kerr, the chef at Georgie’s Alibi in Wilton Manors, debuted his Bite GastroTruck this fall, working it three nights a week in addition to his regular job. Kerr’s menu features anything from burgers to duck confit quesadillas to eggplant meatballs.

“It’s not all funnel cakes and elephant ears,” he said.

Indeed, there are food trucks that specialize in everything from cupcakes to crab cakes, Texas brisket to Korean tacos. Many tout locally grown ingredients and artisanal breads and cheeses.

According to DBPR, Florida had 1,934 food trucks on Nov. 1, 2010 and 2,137 a year later, not including hot dog carts. In comparison, traditional restaurants grew only at a 1.5 percent rate, going from 36,745 a year ago to 37,291 as of Nov. 1.

“When I first came, I didn’t realize the impact of this emerging business on Florida,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson.

Lawson, who assumed his duties in May, said the increase in food-truck permit applications has the department starting outreach programs to make sure vendors know that they must be licensed and follow the same regulations as restaurants, including regular sanitation inspections.

But he’s also trying to promote the trucks, hosting an event in Tallahassee next month where food trucks can set up in the department’s parking lot to sell their food and also undergo a public inspection.

Kerr calls his truck his “own little restaurant on wheels,” and he’s hopeful that as he builds his food truck identity, he can save up and eventually open his own place.

Find the entire article <here>

TAMPA BAY, FL – One restaurant succeeds and another fails. The critical difference? Often it’s location. But what if location weren’t an issue, if like a potted plant relocated to receive the maximum life-sustaining rays of sunlight, a restaurant could just move around to where the customers were? Thus went the thinking that has led to the great food truck invasion of the past couple of years.

A trend that most people track back to Roy Choi’s Kogi Korean BBQ in 2008 in Los Angeles, the food truck craze departs from the 1980s office roach coach or even the Texas rancher’s chuck wagon in one key respect: It is buoyed by new social media like Twitter and Facebook. Customers are not just finding these food trucks serendipitously — they are being cyberstalked and hunted down like bison on the Great Plains.

In many American cities, the trend is also a reflection of the economy: Dazzlingly trained chefs are without a gig. Not having the financial wherewithal to scrape together the $1 million or so needed to start their own brick-and-mortar restaurants, they’ve taken to the streets, rehabbing Airstreams and school buses and rickshaws to get their culinary visions to the masses.

The Tampa Bay area has been slightly late to the game. Taco Bus and DaKine Hawaiian Café were early entries, but just recently a convoy of new food trucks have started revving their engines in the area and a new Support Tampa Bay Food Trucks page has gone up on Facebook.

There may be good reasons for our tardiness — the past week of food truck chasing left me frizzy-haired and panting, feeling deep sympathy for those jockeying behind the sizzling griddles. Our weather is a hard sell in the summer, thunderstorms and mosquito swarms adding another layer of complexity.

Food trucks have taken off in cities where there are dense pedestrian centers — something the Tampa Bay area lacks. But the biggest impediment may be local ordinances that make it unlawful to stop, stand or park on streets or in city-owned or -operated parking lots and garages or on other city property in order to sell something. Thus, our food trucks must park on private property.

Find the entire article <here>

SEASIDE, FL – Yvonne Rolufs didn’t know what to order as she approached the six classic airstream food trucks. She wandered from one menu to the next as her cohorts divvied up and found their niche. But when she saw The Meltdown on 30A, a gourmet grilled cheese food truck, Rolufs got in line.

“I saw the word ‘arugula,’ and I had to come here,” Rolufs said. “I’m from New Orleans, so going to a food truck isn’t normal, but it’s here.”

Meltdown is grilled cheese mecca combining thick bread with different cheeses, meats and vegetables.

“Our focus is the cheese,” manager Matthew Lansing said. “We play around with it, but we try to keep it no frills and give a quick, high-quality product.”

During Spring Break, Meltdown was packed with a line of people from their window to the street for four hours.

“We do what restaurants can’t; we get to experiment and try new things,” Lansing said.

They grill the classics of American and cheddar, but they also spice it up with combinations such as brie, bacon with cranberry walnut bread, or goat cheese, prosciutto and arugula.

“The best part about the carts is when you’re with a bunch of people, everyone can get what they want and it’s all in one spot,” Rolufs said. “I go where I see good food, whether it’s in a restaurant or a food truck.”

Rolufs is like many visitors and residents of Seaside who are intriguead by the food trucks that have gathered behind the Seaside amphitheater. It began with Jenifer Kuntz and her food truck, Raw and Juicy. Kuntz started Raw and Juicy in April 2008 to educate people about what they were eating and to bring the community together.

Raw and Juicy is an organic foods and juice bar that combines fruits, vegetables and roots into unusual, but good drinks. The Beetlejuice is an apple, beet, lime and ginger concoction that adds some color and spice to the frothy drink.

“I saw a Club Med atmosphere up and down Seaside for the tourists, but nothing for the residents,” Kuntz said. “I wanted to bring the community together, and this started as part of a health and wellness center, but Raw and Juicy just took off.”

The community began to notice Kuntz when she revived the farmers market.

“It became like an adult lemonade stand,” Kuntz said. “It became a place where people saw in each other in the community and where they could come to hang out.”

However, it was not only people flocking to Kuntz’s cart. Other food trucks began lining up behind the amphitheater as well. As airstreams followed Kuntz’s lead, Seaside soon found itself embracing a food revolution.

Find the entire article <here>


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