Hey CofC students, you better get out your “fat pants”, because if you attended the Charleston Food Truck Festival last Saturday, February 21st, you’ve probably gained a few pounds. Held at 1600 Meeting St, this event featured ten local Charleston food truck vendors including Roti Rolls, Caribbean Creole, Auto-Bahn, Diggity Donuts, Zombie Bob’s Pizza and more. Hundreds of enthusiastic foodies flocked to the festival in search of some good food, good music and good alcohol. Surely these things were not hard to find, as long as festival-goers truly embraced the food truck culture and opened their minds to the idea of stuffing their faces with an infinite amount of delicious food.
Upon arriving at this festival, it was clear that this was no amateur event. Lines of people waiting for food were so long that one woman who was visiting Charleston from Florence, SC said, “I’ve been waiting in line for nearly 45 minutes, but I don’t mind because I want that gyro!” Gyros were just one option among a menu spreading from “Gator Burgers” from the Caribbean Creole truck to cupcakes at the KayLea’s Cakes truck. College of Charleston freshman and festival-goer Jade Carpenter had a tough time deciding which truck to go to. “I really want a coke,” she said, “and at this point I’m so hungry I would eat anything.” Carpenter and her friends, Katie Carter and Michaela Rule, also freshmen at the College had walked four miles to get to the festival. “We nearly died,” said Rule, “we were walking and couldn’t find the place, but at one point we saw a food truck and started running after it.” All the trouble was worth it though, when the three friends finally got their massive, greasy and delicious slice of pizza from Zombie Bob’s, and large, ice-cold Cokes to go with it.
Food was not the only reason to attend this festival, though, as there were also plenty of fun activities. Live music played by the Butternecks, V-Tones and Dante’s Camaro had people up on their feet dancing while trying to balance their burgers, beer and shrimp all at the same time. Kids also had a great time on the bounce castle and other kid-friendly games. The hundreds of dogs waiting in lines with their desperately hungry owners also seemed to enjoy trying to decipher the millions of food smells that filled the air.
One of the vendors at the festival was “Roti Rolls”, which was rated Charleston’s best food truck four years in a row, and was also featured on the list of the 101 Best Food Trucks in America according to Daily Meal. This impressive business was founded by none other than Cory Burke, Charleston resident and experienced chef. CisternYard News had the opportunity to interview Burke about the food truck culture and his experience. Burke described working on a food truck as “Hot, sweaty, and fun! It’s much harder work than you’d think,” he said. “Most people seem to believe we just start up the truck, roll out and serve the goodness, but it’s much more work involved.”
After seeing the amount of people who attended the event it is clear that it takes a lot of patience to work a food truck. “Hours of prep go into each outing,” said Burke. “For events like the Food Truck Festival, we’re in our kitchen all day every day for about a week peeling carrots and ginger, chopping onions and celery, blending our sauces, and braising the short rib that we get locally from Mibek Farms. In between kitchen hours and rolling out to our catering gigs or weekly lunch gigs, we run around town picking up essentials like propane, gas, generator service, paper products and service ware, sriracha, etc. After everything is cooked, it all needs to get packed up and loaded on the truck. That part is like a game of Tetris, trying to figure out how to fit all that food into the small, confined space inside the truck.”
One of the worker’s from the greek-inspired food truck, Patia, responded to the question “What is life like on a food truck?” when he said “well, I’m too busy to even answer that question. That basically sums it up.” Burke suggested that the key to this life is being a little bit crazy. “You must have a ton of self-motivation, tough skin, determination and a lot of love of food,” he said. “One of our mottos on the truck to keep us rolling is; can’t stop, don’t stop, won’t stop.” Surely Rotti Rolls will never stop moving and their success will reach far beyond the Charleston Food Truck Festival.
So next time you see a food truck rolling around downtown, follow it! Food trucks are like tiny, mobile restaurants, but something about the energy, culture and passion of the chefs makes the food they produce better than any food you could find in a restaurant on King Street. To see all of these fabulous food trucks together at one time again, you’ll have to wait for next year’s festival, but for now you can follow any of the trucks by visiting the Charleston Food Truck Federation’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charleston-Food-Truck-Federation/162710580453381?sk=timeline. Happy eating!