What We Can Learn from America’s Fast Food Trucksters
Our friends from across the pond may struggle with their foreign policy from time to time and have trouble telling their politicians from their celebrities (Mr. Trump, we’re looking at you!) but there is one thing that they’ve got over us on any given Sunday.
A staple of the American fast food industry for decades now, the humble food truck is slowly and surely picking up traction here in the UK. This is good news for us lads, who love nothing more than chowing down on a ridiculously sized meat-filled monstrosity.
For years now, us Brits have had to cope with the humble English burger van as a way of sprucing up a trip to B&Q or to brighten a long day out with the wife and kids. These curious contraptions come in all shapes and sizes, but the quality of their product is uniformly awful. Soggy baps, tasteless patties and lacklustre extras are the order of the day – and the prices are usually enough to turn you away, even before you’ve seen the questionable cleanliness of the make-shift kitchen.
Thankfully, with the advent of the gourmet burger in the UK, all this is slowly starting to change. Although some critics may be starting to tire of the endless amount of super-sized burgers and dogs, served on tin plates and wood boards, us guys here at MALE FICE can’t get enough of them. With city restaurant districts slowly filling up with a heady mix of chain restaurants and independent businesses, there has never been more choice when it comes to American food on our high streets. But why is this cracking grub making its way off the streets and on to our roads?
As usual, pop culture has had its part to play with classic movies, like Scarface and Pulp Fiction, boosting the appeal of American food. John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s iconic ‘Royale with Cheese’ scene had 90s cinema goers slavering over the mighty American burger long before its rise to popularity in the UK. Whereas the more discerning cinephile will remember Tony Montana’s first job in a grimy drive-in. Violent cult films aside, the food truck has more recently had a resurgence in the world of independent cinema.
Featuring what would be a breakthrough performance from everyone’s favourite ‘dwarf’ Peter Dinklage, The Station Agent centred on a food truck in the middle of nowhere as its main setting – no doubt a clever ploy for keeping costs down on what was a very cheap movie. Bobby Cannavale was the man behind the grill in the critically acclaimed 2003 festival darling, and just over 10 years later he found himself cooking up a storm on the move once more in Jon Favreau’s Chef. You might be wondering what these festival darlings have to do with the rise of the food truck; one word: hipsters.
The hipster movement is one that has truly taken the world by storm. At its heart is a love of unique trends from the world of fashion all the way to food. Bearded, tight trousered, tattooed and at large; the male hipster restaurateur is now as much of a cliché as the cockney chippy owner. Buying and setting up a first-class metropolitan eatery with hipster credentials can be a risky affair, for most budding bearded entrepreneurs its much easier to test the waters with something smaller first; like a food truck!
Any man’s man can see the appeal. Buy a cheap battered van, like Bobby and Jon’s in Chef, scour eBay for affordable cooking equipment and invest wisely in a set of quality industrial fans and motors (it can get hot in a food truck and you will need some ventilation!); Bob’s your uncle you’ve got yourself a shabby chic hipster-proof food truck ready to do some killer business!