2009 International Chefs Congress Business Seminar

In today’s business panel on food trucks, food writer Josh Ozerzky moderated a lively discussion with food truck operators Lev Ekster, Roy Choi, and Jerome Chang. Ozerksy described the food truck movement as “one of the definitive movements of this generation.” The three panelists dished on the seedy underbelly of the food truck business, in particular the highly illegal and controversial black market for permits. Ekster recounted the story of how he tried driving around Queens to get a permit before going the legal route; he recommends partnering with someone who has an existing—and legal –permit. The presenters had an honest conversation about finances in which Chang pointed out that although there is less overhead for a food truck, his margins are like a restaurant because you have to charge less. Even if you serve dishes of high-end restaurant quality, there’s a psychology about street food that it can’t be expensive, so you have to charge less just the same.

by Amanda McDougall, Katherine Martinelli, Emily Bell, Carolina Daza Carreño, and Francis Joven