California’s Food Trucks: How It All Began

Kogi Food Trucks
Kogi Food Trucks

The food truck movement began in 2008 in Los Angeles when celebrity chef Roy Choi started Kogi BBQ, a Korean taco truck that changed the way people understood food. The $2 tacos became a quick sensation that spawned a national trend, gourmet food on wheels. It was only natural that the meetings and events industry would join the fun.

Today, event catering has become a big part of the food truck business. Luisana Valdez, director of catering at Kogi BBQ, says one food truck can feed from 50 to 100 attendees during a 2-hour time slot, with multiple trucks serving 500 to 600 attendees.

San Francisco’s Off the Grid, a mobile food service company that began in 2010, links meeting planners to about 150 of the Bay Area’s best food trucks. Martina Bill, the company’s events director, says private events and catering make up half of all business, which ranges from small groups to thousands for some events.

“I think San Francisco is becoming synonymous with food trucks,” says Bill. “Having multiple food truck options at an event adds a whole new layer of creativity and activeness. Also, the vendors will do small tasting items, so [groups] will have the ability to eat from four or five trucks to get a full experience of different types of San Francisco cuisines.”

Meeting planners can choose from popular food trucks such as Bacon Bacon and Kara’s Cupcakes that have a “fanship” of people who follow the trucks to get their foodie fix, says Mark Haller, Off the Grid’s GM.

“L.A. and San Francisco are traditionally foodie cities anyways, but making that mobile and cool is very West Coast,” he says.

“San Francisco is becoming synonymous with food trucks. Having multiple food truck options at an event adds a whole new level of creativity and activeness.”