Chef Essig's Featured Item of the Week = Korean Tacos

it's all about feeding the masses

In the past year there is one culinary trend that has surpassed all others in regards to amount of media attention it has received and excitement it has created among audiences across the United States -- that is the gourmet food truck trend.

More than likely you have heard, seen, or been lucky enough to sample some of these delicious creations that have been coming from a business sector that used to be regarded as "less than desirable." The connotation of these trucks being considered "less than" is changing through efforts of these new entrepreneurs who have taken feeding the masses to a whole new level. From gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches to Banh Mi Sandwiches, from Tacos to Pad Thai, from Corn Lobster Cakes to Gourmet Cupcakes... these trucks are hitting the streets, they're coming to you, and they're growing in numbers.

korean tacos

To urban cities in countries like China, India, Mexico, Brazil, and many more, street foods have always been a part of life. Citizens make their living by creating and selling food to the local community. It is a gathering place... a place to exchange not only currency, but also camaraderie.

Now the local marketplace has grown wheels and is on the loose looking for anyplace that people gather. In cities such as Los Angeles and Seattle, these trucks have even started to caravan and set up mobile market places, pinpointing areas of large numbers of hungry customers.

korean tacos

it's definitely Worth The wait

On a trip recently to California, I drove into Los Angeles specifically to search out these food trucks. There were trucks that specialized in all organic food, others that served varieties of local seafood, and of course the famed Kogi BBQ. Kogi BBQ was the brainchild of Chef Roy Choi and his partner Mark Manguera. Both men worked for the Hilton Hotel at the time, and they decided to give up their day job in hotel foodservice and start selling Korean Tacos from a truck. They advertised each day to over 52,000 twitter followers to inform them where the truck would be and at what time.

A chef colleague recently said he waited for 45 minutes in a line of over 100 people to get his tacos-- and they were worth every minute and cent. Choi was recently named Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chef" for 2010.

korean tacos

The trucks you see at construction sites or near busy intersections of the city may be often overlooked, but with some innovation and creativity, they can turn into real money-makers. Choi stated in an article with the Wall Street Journal that in the first year of business, Kogi generated over 2 million dollars in revenue.

Coming to a city near you

The trend has moved from Los Angeles across the country spurred by the popularity given by the Food Network's “The Great Food Truck Race.” Denver’s own Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg and his talented team of chefs serve up a variety of options on their menu that change about as often as their location -- which is a lot! You can see where they are on the Front Range by visiting www.streatchefs.com.

korean tacos

Korean Tacos at UNC

UNC Dining Services has not strapped on wheels to its services yet, but we would like to offer our customers a taste of this trend that has recently hit the streets.

You can sample a version of Korean Tacos at Holmes Dining Hall on Thursday, November 18th @ Lunch at The Grille while enjoying the marketplace feel and camaraderie with friends and colleagues. We hope you enjoy. Keep on Truck’n!

Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

Executive Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

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