Book Review: Food Trucks by Heather Shouse

Two years ago, while visiting my daughter Candice in Portland, she took me on a Food Truck Tour. I was amazed at the quality and creativity on the part of the owners of these mobile restaurants. Most of the best ones are owned and managed by well-trained young chefs. They are so popular that their customers follow them on Twitter. That way they know where the food truck will be on any given day.

In the past few years there’s been a resurgence in these mobile culinary establishments, and not just in Portland. They’re all over the country, but primarily in larger cities. The resurgence is due in part to the economy and in part because of the desire of talented young chefs to prove themselves. An average new restaurant takes time and upwards of $200,000 plus to get started. A food truck takes $20,000 to $30,000.

Ever since that first tour in Portland, I’ve been paying attention to the food trucks I see in various places. And then Candice tipped me off to a new book on the subject. It’s Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes From the Best Kitchens on Wheels (Ten Speed Press, 2011)

Author Heather Shouse spent a year traveling the United States researching the topic of mobile food purveyors. She was looking for innovation and high quality food that didn’t require a giant kitchen and a huge staff. The result of her research is this book. (Wouldn’t you have loved a job like that?)

The book is organized by region and by city. Ms. Shouse gave a good overview of each area. She then spent time talking about the best food trucks she found. For each food truck she told the history of the owners and how they came to establish their business. She also talked about the special food prepared and there is often a recipe from the owner. Also included is where you can usually find that food truck, plus their Twitter account and/or website. There are plenty of colorful pictures and drawings throughout.

I spent most of my time in the sections on the West Coast because that’s where I am. But, for those of you in other parts of the country, you should know there are good food trucks in the Midwest, the South, and in the East Coast. I certainly want to check them all out.

The food? You’re going to find dishes from all cuisines. It seems to be an international menu as these bright young chefs ply their skills to create new dishes. The hottest food truck in LA is one that combines Mexican and Korean foods. These new businesses know their food has to be special if they are going to get customers back on a regular basis. And that’s good for those of us who love to try new dishes.

Give Food Trucks by Heather Shouse a try if you’re looking for a new food adventure.

I found my copy at the library. Check also your local bookstore. Food Trucksis available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.

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20 Responses to Book Review: Food Trucks by Heather Shouse

  1. kaye says:

    Alas, sadly ne’er a food truck will be seen in Podunk. The Food Network’s Food Truck Wars starts in a few weeks. We watched it last year and really enjoyed it. It’s amazing some of the recipes that are prepared.

  2. TheBookGirl says:

    I would love a job like that! Where do I sign up, lol.

    This sounds like a great book — I am fascinated by the food truck phenomenon; we have them here, the “waffles” truck being the most wonderfully aromatic, but I am anxious to check out all the different variations across the country. When I go to the library today, I am going to see if we have it, and if not, I’ll put it on request.

    Thanks for the fun review 🙂

  3. Barbara says:

    You’ll remember we go to Philadelphia several times a year. In the university district there we see food trucks all over the place with customers from the hospitals and universities in that area. Lots of different cuisines featured. Haven’t tried the food since Dave is anything BUT adventurous. 🙂

  4. Mary says:

    Now I’m wondering if there are any food trucks in my city. Will have to check! I think there’s a Food Network show about food trucks. I’ll look for this book. Thanks for letting us know about it.

  5. I go back and forth about these. They seem fun and innovative, but how consistent? how regulated? how unsanitary? I get squeamish over those aspects!

  6. Food trucks have just made it to St. Louis but I haven’t encountered one yet — looking forward to it!

  7. Rikki says:

    I have never heard of or seen a food truck before. Very interesting concept. It makes sense, too.

  8. I know there are food trucks in NYC, one of these days I’ll have to venture in and check a few out. It amazes me all the varied types of food they serve on the road.

  9. No food trucks here yet. I have seen them on Food Network though and am totally jealous of those who have them in their areas. I will look for this book at my library.

  10. Nan says:

    Absolutely fascinating. I had no idea.

  11. We had a food truck come to my little high school (we didn’t have a cafeteria) back in the 70’s. I haven’t seen one since! What a cool book!

  12. Beth F says:

    I’m not sure we have food trucks in my area. I had no idea they cost so much — I’m going to have look at this book so I know where to eat next time I’m traveling.

  13. Annie says:

    I have never heard of a food- truck, but why not if the food is good !

  14. This looks like a really interesting book. Thanks for the post 🙂

  15. Staci says:

    Yes, I would love a job like that! I watched something similar on Top Chef a few months ago and that the idea of a food truck was awesome!! My son loves to cook, maybe after the military he would do something like this? I may have to pick up a copy of this one!!

  16. What a fun book! These food trucks are all over New York but I’m always a little reluctant to give them a try. It sounds like there are some wonderful chefs cooking in them.

  17. I cannot wait to read this. What a fun book!

  18. JoAnn says:

    No food trucks here, but this was fascinating to read! Coincidentally, food trucks figure prominently in a novel I’ll be reviewing next week (The Gap Year)… may just have to check this out.

  19. My daughter and I are totally obsessed with Food Trucks. I think I may have to give her a gift of this book. If you get a chance check out Food Networks Great Food Truck Race. I think it starts next week. It’s a lot of fun.

  20. Oh! We were talking about this recently — that we’ve seen a lot more trucks and carts here in the Eugene area this year– how interesting to learn more about them…. I’ll look for this book.

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