Archive for the ‘Vendrification’ Category

‘The Great Food Truck Race’ to debut Sunday, August 15

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on August 14, 2010

So yes, I’m a little behind on this one. And thank you to friends and family alike that have asked me: “Hey, have you heard? There’s going to be a food truck show on Food Network!”

Well, at least I posted in time for the premiere, which airs tomorrow night. Scope the trailer below.

Ok, I’ll bite. (Har.)

I haven’t seen the show yet, and will post my review of the first episode next week. But my gut reaction sort of breaks down into three ways.

1) “Yeah, food trucks!” I think it’s absolutely fantastic that these trucks, a few of which I interviewed on this here blog way back when, are now going to be on national television. (Grill ‘Em All, Nom Nom) Kudos, guys!

2) Everyone seems to think that this is new. And maybe it’s just the latest example of a good idea from one part of society getting appropriated and commercialized by another. I worry that in this hype over tweet-fueled trendiness, somehow the classic taco trucks that aren’t on Twitter and don’t come to flashy downtown art strolls, get pushed aside, when in fact many of those guys were there first, and def could use the exposure.

In an article previewing the show, The New York Times proclaimed: “We’re living in a food-truck moment. Thanks to a booming gastro-culture and an economy gone bust, America’s streets are filled as never before with high-quality meals on wheels.”

I’d speculate that there are already tons of high-quality meals on wheels. Heck, check out the Yum Tacos map. I’m sure the Grey Lady didn’t know that there’s taco trucks in Arkansas, Illinois and Idaho. (I sure didn’t.)

3) Do food trucks really need to be a reality show? Do I really need people put in situations where they’re yelling at each other, à la The Real World? I really loathe these type of shows with these sit-downs at the camera and people talking smack about one another.

That said, as I found myself drawn to this part of TV Squad‘s interview with Tyler Florence, the new host of the show:

So it really is a race for them? Who can get set up and selling in new places the fastest.

Absolutely. There’s an elimination challenge in every city. They got 72 hours to make the most money. We start each truck with a full tank of gas and a completely cleaned out pantry, and everyone gets the same amount of money, so everyone starts on a completely even playing field. They’ve got 72 hours to shop, prep, cook and compete for the dollars and the hearts and minds of the whole community.

In their hometown, they’re rockstars — they can literally just Twitter, “Hey I’m on the corner of whatever,” and 25 minutes later, there’s a line around the block. But in the new cities, they don’t know anybody, so they’re trying to figure out who’ll Twitter, who’s calling the paper, who’s calling the television station, who’s gonna let them know we’re out here. These guys really thought out of the box. It was amazing to watch them all step up to the plate and be strong, independent mobile companies.

No matter what, I’ll be watching.

Vendrification: Nouveau food truck backlash

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on September 29, 2009

[Photo: Steve Lyon]

This term exactly encompasses what I’m afraid of in this new generation of food trucks popping up around the country. I want to believe that the market is big enough for all type of taco trucks, food carts, and everyone in between.

In California, the only example that I’ve seen so far was the recent Mid-Wilshire spat — but in New York things are a bit more heated between established and nouveau street food.

Still, this piece does give me pause:

In a city accustomed to gentrification, perhaps this new phenomenon could be described as “vendrification,” with more expensive, higher-tech carts and trucks sweeping in and shaking up the culinary terrain of the streets. Predictably, this shift has led to some tensions between the “traditional” vendors and the newer-style sellers, who often use heavily decorated trucks, rotating seasonal offerings, and regular Twitter tweets advertising their current whereabouts to draw in customers. For the kebab and hot dog vendors, who often stay in the same city-assigned location day after day, it becomes a question of market infringement. In late June, an exchange over turf outside the Metropolitan Museum between the fancy food truck Street Sweets and a few other vendors grew so heated that police were called to the scene. And the Schnitzel & Things truck has endured confrontations both with halal vendors and a Mister Softee truck.

[via The Food Section]