How to Make Food Truck Cuisine More Accessible
When you start a food truck, you find yourself walking a fine line between gourmet cuisine and common street food. If you stray too far into the world of haute cuisine, then most people will avoid your truck. But a lot of people won’t even give you a second look if you don’t have something unique on your menu. That’s why you need to know how to make food truck cuisine more accessible.
Educate Your Customers As Much As Possible
When you sell food directly to people on the street, you never know how much the customer already understands about the type of dishes you sell. Does she know that putting mayonnaise and aioli on the same sandwich is a questionable choice? Or does she simply not know what aioli is? You can start to educate your customers by taking a proactive stance.
As the seasons progress, incorporate new, in-season items into your recipes. If possible, change your menu so that it notes the new ingredient. This gives customers a chance to learn by comparing what they already know with new information. In other words, introduce new things slowly, and don’t do too much too quickly.
Educate Your Employees
Your customers can’t learn about new flavors if your employees don’t know how to explain them. That’s why you have to educate your employees first. It’s pretty embarrassing when you realize that your workers don’t know the first thing about your food, but you can only blame yourself.
When you decide to introduce something new to the menu, get your staff together to sample the item. Ask them to explain what they taste in the dish and encourage them to explore those tastes. This is a great way to make sure your staff has tasted new items and that they have thought about ways to explain the new dishes.
Put Bacon on It
Image via Flickr by LaMenta3
If you recognize that your menu has a lot of fancy items needing log descriptions after them, you might want to make things a little more foodie-friendly. A universal appeal in the foodie world is bacon, so if you want to keep a dish on the menu but realize it’s not attracting a lot of customers, try adding bacon to the dish. So, if your duck confit isn’t attracting a big crowd, just put some bacon on top of it and you’ll more customers than you can handle. For some people, bacon seems to solve everything. \
If you serve desserts, you’ll be surprised at the niche crowd you’ll begin to attract if you add bacon into some of your desserts. People are wanting more chocolate and bacon desserts, and even Gayle King’s favorite new dessert is the maple-bacon cupcake.
Keep Things Simple
Maybe the problem isn’t that you need to make your food more accessible. The problem might be that you’re making foods that no one wants to eat. An experienced chef might love your technique, but if you get too technical you could run off the locals.
That’s why you have to keep things as simple as possible. When you make tacos, focus on making the meat quality. If you put most of your work into that, then it won’t matter what the customer puts on the taco later. They’ll just notice how amazing the meat is.
The rule of simplicity applies to nearly all foods. If you make your hamburger so fancy that you have to run a skewer down the middle to hold it together, then it’s time to scale things back a bit and reevaluate why you make food. You want to serve the people, right? Well, you’re not going to do that with a recipe you wrote to impress your teacher at culinary school.
Hire at Least One Worker
If the world were full of perfect customers, then one person could easily run a food truck. However, this is not a perfect world, so in the real world, you’ll probably need at least two people helping out. That’s the only way you can take orders, prepare food, and accept payment without getting extremely confused.
Having an extra person will also give you more freedom to talk to your customers. That means while your assistant is making a meal, you might have a minute or two to talk to your customers about what you’ve changed in the menu.
When you know how to choose the right people, you only have to explain the ingredients a few times. They’ll spread the word for you. But if you never get a chance to talk to them one-on-one, you’ll never get that free exposure.
Call it Ethnic
You might think that customers would stay away from food trucks that identify as ethnic. Don’t they want to choose items that seem familiar? Some people do, but a lot of people want to try different cuisines.
They might gasp at some French recipes, but they’ll gladly munch on dishes from Africa or South America. As long as they know it’s ethnic, they seem happy enough to eat their meals without too many questions.
Know Who You Want Your Food to Attract
Having more customers doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a better business than someone else. Different types of consumers want different experiences, so many businesses choose to focus on niche markets. Food trucks can do this, too. Aside from establishing a unique identity, the good thing about a niche market is that you can attract a small number of loyal customers who can keep your business going strong.
By recognizing that you don’t want to meet everyone’s needs, you can find your niche market. Those are the people who really want your food. Perhaps you shouldn’t worry too much accessibility. Just make what you love and try to find people who will love it with you.
How do you think food trucks can make their cuisine more accessible to casual diners? Do you think food truck owners even need to worry about accessibility, or do you think consumers will pick up on changes so quickly that they will automatically learn along the way?