Food Trucks Go Gourmet

January 9, 2013 Updated Jan 9, 2013 at 9:12 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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January 9, 2013 Updated Jan 9, 2013 at 9:12 AM EDT

"I'll have a tarentaise and pear cheese special and chocolate bread pudding topped with warm bourbon caramel sauce for dessert, please."

That may sound like a food order at a gourmet restaurant, but it's one of the many offerings available from the growing assortment of food trucks.

They have evolved from traditional hot dog carts to full-service, customized restaurants on wheels. The so-called food truck revolution, coined from national TV shows featuring unique trucks, has clearly hit Western New York.

Alexis Andrzejak is founder of The Cheesy Chick food truck, which debuted in March.

"I was a teacher for six years and was unable to get a permanent teaching position," she said. "I always loved cooking so I decided to go this route. It's been going really well and it's a lot of fun. We like it."

Often, you'll find The Sweet Hearth food truck parked alongside The Cheesy Chick and featuring desserts and sweet treats. Founder Kelly Brewer's love of baking drove her into the industry in April.

"I was researching opening a bakery; that's ultimately what I wanted to do," she said. "It was very cost-prohibitive and this just seemed like a less-expensive way of getting my feet wet."

Brewer said she still hopes to open a bakery someday, but for now, she's on the road, which isn't always easy for food-truck operators.

"There are challenges, like the weather and parking restrictions," she said.

The City of Buffalo issued an ordinance one year ago that requires an operating license and limits where food trucks can set up. But there is camaraderie among them, according to operators.

"We get together with The Cheesy Chick, the Knight Slider, Lloyd a lot of times," Brewer said. "We all complement each other and offer something different."

Many rely on catering to boost business.

Unique menus are a key to success since studies show there's a market for upscale, portable food. According to Baum+Whiteman, an international food and restaurant consulting firm in Brooklyn, "a flavor a day keeps recession at bay."

Analysts expect restaurants to ramp up their flavor profiles in 2013.

"Greasy fries no longer do the trick. Snacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated," Baum+Whiteman said in its 2013 food forecast. "Food trucks define a new market for creative, portable food."

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