Written by: Judson Kniffen, ICC’s Associate Director of Education
FCI graduate Ed Hardy, Class of ’06, recently returned to his Alma Matter to lead a business workshop and cooking demonstration for ICC students and alumni. Ed owns and operates the award-winning food truck, Bacon ‘n Ed’s Mobile Gourmet Kitchen, in the DC metro area. He specializes in private events where he features his famous fried chicken banh mi, Swedish meatball sub, and many other delicious items!
While discussing the business aspects of owning and operating a food truck, Ed and his chef-partner Evan Henris demonstrated how to make quick pickles for their celebrated Banh Mi sandwiches, and they discussed the multi-week long process for making real sauerkraut. Fermentation is hot right now, and Chef Ed works hard to stay on top of the food trends.
Thinking of opening your own food truck? Here are the 6 key lessons we learned from Ed Hardy:
1. Focus on a concept.
Really think about your menu, and whom your audience is. Is your food able to be prepared and served in a truck? What practical necessities will you need to serve the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time?
2. Chose your vehicle wisely.
Airstreams look cool, but those curved corners are big wastes of space. Think about maximizing every square inch of your food truck. What is the flow of the cooking and serving? Is there enough storage for food and cleaning supplies?
3. Systems equal success.
Gey your systems in place before opening: payment, scheduling, cleaning, organizing.
4. Start your paperwork early.
There is a lot of licensing, tax forms and other paperwork that need to be submitted. It’s not the fun part of the job, but it’s an unavoidable reality.
5. Be present on social media.
Let your followers know where you will be and keep them engaged. Respond to all question and comments just as you would in person.
6. Be unique
Competition is fierce these days. Your truck and your food need to stand out. Invest in good graphic design and be creative, and consistent, with your brand image. Maintain your quality — don’t lower your standards to increase margins, customers will notice.