When New York chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will
Guidara wanted to introduce their NoMad brand in Los Angeles,
they decided a food truck might be a good way to do it. The pair,
who also own New York’s Eleven Madison Park, outfitted a big
blue truck, hired chef Ashley Abodeely to handle the food and
asked a dozen top LA chefs to help them out.
For a year, instead of moving from street to street, they
parked the truck outside a different restaurant each month and
asked the chefs to develop their own take on NoMad’s signature
chicken burger. Not that it needed any help. It’s been a hit since
its introduction at NoMad New York in 2014.
Contemporary chefs create food trucks not only to introduce
their brand, but as an opportunity to do what they like and
do best, as well as a way to share their ethnicity and culinary
heritage. Often, and one of the best reasons to take to the road
in a food truck, is to get into the restaurant business or expand
without the expense of a brick and mortar venue.
BURGERS AND HOTDOGS
A spin on Humm’s stuffed and roasted chicken for two,
NoMad’s signature chicken burger turns a burger into a gourmet
delight. For starters, black truffle pâté is mixed into the chicken
patty. Then, it’s topped with truffle mayonnaise, Gruyere and
foie gras spread. The burger is served on a brioche bun enhanced
by lemon zest and more black truffles.
Truffles also enhance the Humm Dog, the chef’s take on
a bacon-wrapped hot dog. A Hebrew National beef hot dog is
wrapped in bacon and topped with a Gruyere cheese sauce,
black-truffle mayonnaise, celery relish and pickled mustard
seed. Other menu items on the truck include a couple of salads,
fries and various sides.
During the introductory year, Abodeely prepped and cooked
the burger and other menu items, drove the truck and cleaned up.
Previously a chef at NoMad New York, she viewed the
truck as an opportunity to get to know Los Angeles
and its diners. Now, she’s chef de cuisine
at the new NoMad Hotel in LA.
The food truck is available
for community activities such as
the Coachella Valley Music and
Art Festival. “Now that we have
a team and prep kitchen, we have
the ability to offer a more elegant
catering menu and do many more
things,” says Brandon Laterveer,
former general manager of the
truck and now project manager
of the hotel.
ICE CREAM AND COOKIES
A trained pastry chef, Natasha Goellner has always worked
for herself, usually with her mother as partner. She started
out making wedding cakes in Kansas City, Missouri, and that
enterprise led to a bakery. In 2016, after losing her lease, she
started serving ice cream, cookies, chocolates and other made-from-scratch desserts from Cirque du Sucré, a food truck that
moves through the Kansas City streets. It allowed her to stay in
business and do what she loved without the hassle of a shop.
“I’d just had a baby, and needed freedom,” she says. “With a
store, you have to be open. With the truck, we can go out or not
go out.” Cirque du Sucré operates seasonally. “People don’t buy
ice cream when it’s cold out,” she adds.
When Cirque du Sucré is on the road, offerings include the
traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice creams, plus
a wide selection of unusual flavors, including avocado, sweet
pea and mint/basil, a customer favorite. French macaroons are
Goellner’s signature dish. They come in a variety of colors, and
customers can buy them as cookies or ice cream sandwiches.
Unlike the NoMad truck, Cirque du Sucré doesn’t do special
events. “I prefer to just drive around,” Goellner says.
FARM-TO-TABLE ON WHEELS
Driving around and parking in what seems like a good
spot isn’t an option for Tim Howells, who, with partner Brad
Beckman, owns and operates Tre Locally Sourced food truck in
Allentown, Pennsylvania. “The regulations on food trucks here
are strict,” he says.
The partners do thrive on special events, though. “We do
everything from corporate lunches to weddings,” Howells says.