Category Archives: food truck

Year 1 Week 3: Happy Birthday America! What it’s all about.

76Image_SCRC

This post is dedicated to SSG Montes, SSG Patterson and SSG Pernell of the United States Army Recruiting Center. Thank You Gentlemen for your service.

Standing at the grill, I carefully flipped a burger for Staff Sergeant Carlos Montes from the Harrisburg U.S. Army Recruiting Center and I thought about a fourth of July 40 years ago.

I was six years old for America’s Bicentennial in 1976. Being a kid from South Jersey’s blue-collared suburbs, I lived in the shadow of the birthplace of America. Just over the bridge, a short subway ride away, towered the dirty, racially tense City of Brotherly Love. To a fat south Jersey kid, Philadelphia was the house of the Broad Street Bullies, where the Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres a year earlier to win the Stanley Cup. It was the home of America’s first zoo, Rocky,  the Liberty Bell, cheese steaks and Independence Hall.

Philadelphia has always been a city of contrasts. In 1976 the City placed the “Love” sculpture in JFK Plaza. That same year the city had over 700 murders and the unemployment rate was 11.3 percent. Today, Philly has the worst poverty rate of the ten largest U.S Cities but has 11 billionaires who made the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. For every “Rocky” story  that Philadelphia gives birth, you’ll find ten stories of violence, poverty, drug addiction and despair. For every Saint Katherine Drexel or Saint John Newman the city creates, there are ten thousand pimps, drug dealers,freaks, felons, mobsters, thieves and miscreants that call Philadelphia home  . For every Margaret Meade or Issac Asimov created by Philadelphia, a thousand desperate souls never realize their full potential or find their brilliance and live their dream. Philadelphia you see, is not like America, Philadelphia is America. It’s the same scenario from sea to shining sea.

The food truck was hot as I carefully ladled and extra-large scoop of bacon jam on the roll. I desperately wanted SSG Montes to enjoy his meal. It was the most important event of Dave’s and my day. More important than making money. More important than gaining fans. More important than anything. I thought back to 1976.

I remember watching the ships in the harbour on TV. I remember parades and sparklers and block parties with tipsy Uncle Sams and Ben Franklin. I can still smell charcoal, hot dogs and beer.

As a kid, I was unaware of the heavy, social, moral and political implications of the big city. Through my eyes, I understood the historical significance of Philly but in my fragile mind, the urban experience was a kaleidoscope of fun times at zoos, sporting events, museums, fireworks, parades and parks. To me, it really was the City of Brotherly Love.

A whiff of charred burger jarred me back to 2016.

I make no apologies for Philadelphia or America for that matter. The wise old guys in triangle hats gave us a shot. America doesn’t owe you anything. Philadelphia doesn’t owe you anything. Let me make something clear:The Declaration of Independence is really specific about what God gives us. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness. These unalienable Rights are transformational. It gives the drug addict the chance to someday become the Doctor. The thief could choose to be a lawyer. The sinner can create a path to sainthood. The poor have a chance at prosperity. There are no guarantees of happiness. I think the greatest gift our country gives us is not only the opportunity to succeed, but also to fail . It’s entirely up to you.

My wife Michelle handed SSG Carlos Montes the perfect Guerrilla Burger and he shared his story.go army

” My mom brought me to America from Honduras when I was 14. To me, I associated America with great things in my childhood. In Honduras the American missionaries brought books and clothes. I had fun at Sunday school.”

He continued,” When we first came to America we lived in Florida and I was really confused because everyone spoke Spanish. I taught myself english by studying and watching television.”

” Years later, I had a good job at a law firm and September 11 happened and I couldn’t resist joining the Army. People told me that I was nuts to leave my good job to serve in the military. I felt like it was something that I had to do.”

” I’m proud to be a part of the 1% of Americans who serve in the United States Military. Ironically,  my son goes to boot camp on September 11th of this year.”

I shot a look at Dave and our eyes spoke to one another, ” That’s what it’s all about.”

 

When you’re celebrating America’s Birthday have fun. Hug your kids. Kiss your spouse beneath the rockets red glare. Enjoy yourself. Pursue your Happiness.

After the charcoal in your grill smolders to a white ash and the orange glow of sparklers lose their luster and turn sooty black, tuck your kids in bed knowing that Staff Sergeant Carlos Montes and his son are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend yours. And if you could,  in the stillness in your heart, ask your creator to keep all of our military safe. It’s the very least we can do.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 66: Twenty Reasons Why Food Trucks Are Hot Right Now

From Los Angeles to New York food trucks are springing up everywhere. It is projected that by 2020 food trucks will be a billion dollar industry. Since 2009 the food truck business has grown 80%. Food trucks are here to stay and here’s 20 reasons why this trend is so hot. Continue reading Day 66: Twenty Reasons Why Food Trucks Are Hot Right Now

Day 60: Operation Recon at The Harrisburg Food Truck Feast

Dave called me last night and said ,” You know we should all probably do some recon tonight at the Harrisburg Food Truck Feast.”  I’ve been on missions like this before with Dave and Pam and they always involve three things. First we blend into the environment so as not to be detected. Second we try to gather as much valuable intelligence as possible: counts on tickets per hour, the most popular food being served, and an analysis of what food trucks process is  the most efficient and why. Third, and most importantly, we stuff ourselves with delicious street food served by really great people. Continue reading Day 60: Operation Recon at The Harrisburg Food Truck Feast

Day 57: What Pin-up girl should be on our truck?

I’ve always been fascinated at the industry of mankind when at war. I’m avoiding the obvious examples of the increased factory production of the military industrial complex and the development of superior combat technology. Instead of a dissertation on the advancement of gunshot surgery technique developed in the Korean War or the engineering wonders of propeller synchronized machine guns, I offer you something more whimsical: Sexy Women.

Memphis Belle
Memphis Belle

The heyday of nose art was World War II but I was surprised to find out that fly boys in World War I were painting cartoons,skulls and women on their planes long before Hitler started acting up. In most wars, the higher brass turned a blind eye to the practice because the pin-up art was good for morale.

Take Off Time
Take Off Time

Guerrilla Canteen would like to tip our helmet to the nose art of World War II and have nose art on our food truck. Today we received two sets of  nose art decals that I ordered a couple of weeks ago.  We would like your opinions on which one to choose. Both stickers are the same size and both include a right-handed and left-handed image for both sides of the truck.

Stars and Bars
Stars and Bars       Leggy, Tasteful and Patriotic
Flygirl
Flygirl   Sexy, girl next door

Day 56: On Being A Guerrilla

Lately I’ve been forced to examine what it really means to be a Guerrilla. This blog is our food truck’s populist manifesto. Not only is it a communique to keep you updated on our tuck building progress, ( Maybelline is getting new back doors on Monday)  it’s an attempt to win the hearts and minds and stomachs of the people. Hopefully, when the key goes into the ignition of Maybelline, a few of you will buy our food.

Robert Rogers
Robert Rogers father of Roger’s Rangers

Continue reading Day 56: On Being A Guerrilla

Day 54: The Top Twenty Reasons Why You Need To Go To The Farmer’s Market Today

In America it seems like farmer’s markets are springing up as fast as food trucks are. Anycard-carryingfoodie or professional chef knows that the local market is where you go for the “Good Stuff”. Personally I prefer to use a farmers market for items that need to be fresh. Imported cheeses, super fresh produce and specialty meats and seafood usually can be found at market. Big box stores and your local grocery are okay for processed food like tater tots,Captain Crunch and canned corn but the Farmer’s Market has sights, sounds, smells and most importantly, flavors that you can’t get anywhere else.

1917 Market

I recently went to a market in Harrisburg today, with my beautiful wife Michelle, and we discovered fresh gooseberries, bee pollen, and an amazing selection of fresh herbs, vegetables and meats. What I considered the epicurean Holy Grail of the day, whole red snapper, was purchased to be poached in extra virgin olive oil with a potato crust and fresh fennel from our garden.

If you aren’t going to market I need to ask,”Why not?”  Stop making excuses and embrace the culinary adventure. You may be amazed at what you discover.

The Top Twenty Reasons Why You Need To Go To Your Farmer’s Market Today

  • 20: Food trucks and farmer’s markets go hand in hand.
  • 19: Economics. The bigger the market, the cheaper the price. If you like to haggle price, I know a few Amish women that will give you a run for your money. Competition between farmers drives prices down.
  • 18: The good stuff.  Good luck getting a round of Brie de Melun or locally made goat, mozzarella or farm cheese at Costco or Sam’s Club. The same goes for free range chicken, organic milk-fed veal, foie gras, and black truffles.
  • 17: The people; amazing, beautiful and from every socioeconomic,ethnic and cultural background. They are the vendors and the customers and what gives the market a richness that is unique.
  • 16: Homemade pickles
  • 15: Baked goods like you’ve never seen. Cakes, rolls, breads… you name it. It’s all here.
  • 14:  Green.Farmers markets are better for the environment.  My potatoes didn’t travel 10,000 miles to get to my plate. Neither should yours.
  • 13: Raw, unpasteurized, milk.
  • 12: Lots of organic food. Buy it and taste the difference.
  • 11: Seasonality. What you see is grown where you live right now.
  • 10: Specialty cuts. Need some sweetbreads, brain or tongue for a special recipe? Buy it here.
  • 9  : Free Music. Today I listened to a 3 piece band (The Coalishun) that played the second best version of “Jumping Jack Flash” that I’ve ever heard. First place goes to The Rolling Stones.
  • 8 : In Pennsylvania, they roll your pretzel by hand right in front of your eyes.
  • 7 :  Herbs,herbs, herbs. Don’t know what you are looking at?  Ask and get a recipe from whoever is selling it. Buy that new herb, take it home, cook it, eat it and be amazed by what you’ve been missing.
  • 6 : Flowers everywhere. Isn’t it romantic?
  • 5 : Super Lunch. Can you name one place that you can eat Thai, Jamaican, Mexican, Italian, African and German food at one location? I can. It’s your farmer’s market
  • 4 : Wild Foraged mushrooms. Walmart never has these.
  • 3 : Retro is cool. Farmer’s markets are retro.  Shop like your great grandma did.  Great grandma was cool. If you shop at the farmer’s market, you’re cool too.
  • 2: These farmers, bakers, fishmongers, butchers, cooks and merchants are your neighbors. Buy something and support them. I feel much better giving my hard-earned cash to the person that grew, processed, caught, or made my food than some faceless corporation.
  • 1: The only way your food is fresher is if you grow it, slaughter it or catch it yourself.

ezine articles

Day 52: McDonald’s Is NOT The Spawn Of Satan

McDonald’s is getting a bad rap these days. People act like the fast-food giant is the culinary spawn of Satan.  I recently read an article stating that fast food is scientifically engineered to taste good.  No shit. Most great meals are scientifically engineered to taste good. Restaurants want you addicted to their food. Whether you are buying your dinner out of a drive through window or a Michelin Star restaurant, chefs use science to make your McBurger or Duck confit taste great. Continue reading Day 52: McDonald’s Is NOT The Spawn Of Satan

Day 51: Red Tape

Red tape

 There are so many hoops to jump through to get a food truck business up and running. There are mountains of red tape. I look at the American Flag and wonder if those red stripes represent bureaucracy.

  I’m not opposed to some regulation. The public needs to be safe. Food Truck kitchens need to be inspected and clean to prevent food borne illness. I think requiring a license and a permit is fair, but the problem I see is that nothing is standardized.

  In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State requires an inspection of the kitchen by the Department of Agriculture just like a brick and mortar restaurant. That’s fair and prudent. What’s weird and unnecessary is that the city of Harrisburg also requires an inspection from the city health department. Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. Isn’t that redundant?  I think that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture does a fantastic job making sure that our food is safe. Is it necessary for the city to make sure its safe too? Maybe it’s just a money-making racket for the capital to generate some much needed revenue.

  Some towns,boroughs, townships and counties have tons of regulation for a food truck operator. Others have none. In a few townships it was easier to get information from local cops than it was to get it from City Hall. Wouldn’t it be simpler to just pass a  federal law that stated if an operator’s truck is licensed by the state then they are legal to operate anywhere in the state?

  Pennsylvania isn’t as bad as some other states. Los Angeles is a nightmare as is New York. New York City doesn’t have enough permits to issue for the amount of food trucks. A lot of owners are running “dirty”. (Operating their business with no permit)

  Waiting for the LLC paperwork to come from the Feds I thought, “Maybe it would be easier to open a lemonade stand.”

Then again, maybe it wouldn’t.

Day 46: Meet Pam Laman

The girl with the
The girl with the “it” factor.

I’ve had the pleasure to know Pam Laman for over ten years. She is married to Guerrilla Canteen co-founder Dave Laman. In all the years that I’ve known Pam she has been a woman of few words. Pam is a great listener with a sharp sense of humor and when Pam speaks, you better listen. A mother of three adult children and a Yorkshire Terrier named Bear, Pam is an inspiration to Dave and Myself. She is a no-nonsense kind of woman, a fast learner and a workhorse in the kitchen and an integral part of Guerrilla Canteen. I’m proud to have her on our team.  Continue reading Day 46: Meet Pam Laman

Day 37: Dave is on fire.

Dave on fire

The first real step to building our rolling kitchen involved removing everything that wasn’t essential. On the walls of the Chevy were four steel racks mounted to the supports.  The racks were pointless in a food truck and needed to be taken off to make room for insulation, and stainless steel or other kitchen-friendly wall coverings.

Dave and I struggled to remove the racks out of Maybelline. It seemed like every other Phillips head was stripped out and difficult to remove. It was too much work for such a simple job. We tried removing them by hand. We tried an electric drill. Nothing worked.

Dave came up with the idea of grinding the heads right off. My only experience with grinders involved  making sausage or coffee. Off to Lowes we went and in 10 minutes we had a brand new angle grinder in hand.

“You ready?”, Dave giggled with a look on his face that reminded me  of a 12-year-old  boy who had just made out with a sophomore in the cloakroom at the skating rink. “Let her rip.”, I laughed.

Dave fired up the grinder and showers of sparks filled the aluminum box that would eventually be our kitchen. Dave was methodical, hitting each screw head dead center. Dave was careful to not grind the walls. A few of the screws needed a little persuasion with a pry bar and I carefully popped those off.

“That was easy.”, Dave said as the smell of burnt metal settled in the truck.

” Doing the walls is going to be as easy.” Dave spoke with the confidence of man who has built hundreds of food trucks.(He hasn’t.) I looked at Dave long and hard and something deep in my soul believed him. The dream of three friends is coming true.