or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › The Foodie Cart!!!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The Foodie Cart!!!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BootsWhitlock View Post
 

Well my food cart is called "The Foodie Cart" and this name came from me and my wife living in New York City and loving all the great food around us... we thought of our selves as 'Foodies' so of course when it came time to run a food cart we called it what it is!!!! 

 

We decided to serve a verity of street food from around the world.  We are starting with German street food.  We currently serve Bratwurst for lunch with 2 types of stoneground mustard/sour kraut/caramelized onions  and a slightly German twist on an American style breakfast (bratwurst egg and cheese on a challah roll).  Our menu is limited because the space we have to deal with is limited.  Our next street food could be from China or Italy.. who knows.  For now we are going to get really good at German.  We will slowly add currywurst, schnitzel, and spaetzle to our current menu over time.  (we'll get good at bratwurst then start currywurst, get good at that then start.. well you get the idea). 

 

Our business is in its 3rd day.  The 3rd day saw us turn a profit for a day(not for the entire start up) so this is great and took a lot of stress off my wife who worries about business.  I can see when we become very efficient we could make even up to 1000 a day or more doing this.  

 

I feel as though I'll learn a lot on this forum:)

 

Boots

 

 

The above post is from my intro thread.  I received a nudge to go tell my story on this thread so folks could keep up with the adventures of "The Foodie Cart".   I will limit my adventures to those having to do with cooking since that's the area of the forum I'm in.  There is a whole other 'business' angle to this beast that is quite interesting to me... but probably isn't right for this audience. (unless the moderators say 'green light')

 

I have a partner in all this and that is my wonderful Wife of 11 years!  We had some disagreements concerning what we were going to do.  The first one was crushing potatoes to make french fries.  She didn't want to do that because the equipment to get it done was to expensive (200 dollars or so.. anyone ever bought a potato crusher?).  So we got the 'bagged frozen' fries.  The next debate was over fry oil.  The boss wanted to get pure vegetable oil and I wanted beef or duck fat to cook fries in.  The reasoning behind vegetable oil was to get the vegetarians something to eat. Our fundamental disagreements are having to do with either following what I like vs. following what my good Wife thinks the public will like in a cost effective manner.  It is an interesting debate and one that will go on for some time.  I want to know what the readers here think!

 

We did get the veg oil for the fries and it turned out to be 100% corn oil.  We tasted the fries and found they were not so good.  Now we have gone to a mixture oil with palm kernel and cottonseed oil(admiration brand) which says it has a smoke point of about 450 degrees so it should be good for fries, but I can't help but think I didn't cook them correctly.  I believe I need one of those point and read temperature things to really get my fry oil at the correct temperature.

 

Outside of that I waited for the fries to come up to the surface of the '100% corn oil) and to brown a little bit, then tried em and they were bad.  I wonder how the fries are going to taste with the palm/cottonseed blend??  We'll see tomorrow!!

 

As time goes on and profits increase my Wife says the fry crushing could be the thing to do.  She wants more freezer space:)

 

I started with my menu and found that I needed to include something more 'vegan/vegetarian'.  Knowing nothing of these lifestyles I asked my customers what they like and the popular response was: that veggie burger from Costco!  Well I took my meat eating mandibles down to isle 307 to see if I could nail down this one in a million vegetarian delight from the wide assortment Costco was bound to have... and I was thrilled to see only one: the veggie burger 'chipotle style' from morning star!!! My exhaustive hunt was finally finished! Now I will wow my customers with a veggie burger!!!

 

One thing that is causing me trouble is how to keep the refrigerator at that less than 40 degrees when I am opening and closing it all the time for butter and cheese??? I have my 'cold holder' or an electric device with cold plates that transfer heat away from water to hold milk or half and half(for coffee) and it seems like the thing to put a bit of butter or cheese into to hold cold.  I did have to get reusable ice cubes to get the water down to temperatures low enough.  The cheese seems like a bridge to far though for cold holding with this device.

 

Do you all have any other ideas besides ice bath to hold cold??

 

Some things I'm doing because I got onto this forum:

-cleaning my griddle with only hot water a dough knife and a scrubby pad my griddle may get more black but it will remain clean! after its clean I put a thin coat of oil on it and wipe it off with a towel and its ready to go!!! I did NOT buy a griddle brick like I was going to...

 

-trying to season my tiny cast iron egg cookers. eggs like to stick to these mini skillets!!!!

 

Here is a picture of the cart:

 

 

(customer on the left is looking at my 'menu' that's on a 22 inch monitor behind the glass!!  The customer on the right is giving me a thumbs up!!!)

 

-yes that is a solar panel

-yes it is run off of batteries and solar power(10kwh batteries and 243watt solar panel)

-yes the batteries do run the cart for approximately 20 hrs(never tested.. but hasn't run out of batteries in my 9hr business day)

 

 

I'm sure this is enough to keep you actual chefs busy for a long time:)

 

Boots

post #2 of 24

I got's to know, what the hell is a potato crusher?

 

While we are on the subject of french fries. I do hand cut fries on the burger truck, a #50 sack of potatoes fluctuates in price between $5-15 depending on the time of year, a lot less expensive than bad frozen fries, you can also charge more for them because of the "perceived value" of something fresh and a better quality.  If you do spuds correctly people will flock to you.

 

Read this one of many threads on here about hand cut fries.

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

A picture is worth a thousand words:)

 

 

 

Boots

post #4 of 24

@chefbuba took the words right out of my mouth!

Hand cut fries are the s##t!

 

I like your idea of rotating cusines but in order to build a steady customer base I would have a steady unchanging menu and just add a chalkboard special of the week.

This is just IMO of course but I know I would be pissed if I just walked 6 blocks in heels for (whatever) only to find it is not (whatever's) week!

 

Have you set up a FB page for The Foodie Cart?

IDK about NY but as for the trucks in my area (Houston and Austin) it is a great way to advertise your specials and locations.

Same with Twitter.

 

mimi

post #5 of 24

As for an instant read thermometer....

All of the health dept guys carry one so it would be a good idea for you to have one as well.

 

mimi

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

I have one of those stick type digital thermometer that you stick into the food to take its temperature.. You're right though I needs me some lazer beamz(read: instant read thermometer)!!!

 

Our breakfast menu probably won't change.  We are already adding stuff like the veggie burger.. so yeah keep what sells and let go what doesn't eh...

 

Boots

post #7 of 24

When the economy tanked in 2008 and I had time on my hands I wish I thought of starting a cart myself.  Things have been slow again [for the time being how ever long that might be] and now this post has got me thinking.

 

 

Rick

post #8 of 24
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 

Rick, Its just me and my wife workin the cart and so far its great.  We are practicing the 'minimum motion' and plenty o prep methods to cut down cooking times (as food cart customers want it good AND fast) so in time we'll be able to get an order out in 1/4 the time we do in the first 4 days of business.  WOW I've been in business(store is open) for 4 DAYS!!! I'd like to thank...

 

Mike, when I start getting real good I'm going to get me one of those thermometers.  I was really talking about the thermometers that take readings at a distance(like you'd use for fry oil) ever use one of those???

 

Tomorrow begins day number 5 in business, and we're hangin on for dear life.  Both my wife and I are working our regular jobs and so we're going 7 days a week. Life is interesting to be sure:)

 

We are going to try to keep the cheese in an ice bath for easier access.  I don't know about that though, because I see people getting violations for having chese out!!! we'll see how it goes.

 

Boots

post #10 of 24

I have a laser thermometer too I check my oven temp with it to make sure it's up to par.  I also use it to see how hot things get so no one gets burned.  

post #11 of 24

Can you put the cheese in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid?

I don't know yall's HD regs but as long as it is buried in ice and maintains a safe zone temp it should be ok?

 

mimi

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 

Laser thermometers are anywhere between $50 and $250 I think going with the good one would be the thing to do. 

 

I got my first health department inspection today!!! It went great!!  we checked the milk and it was at 50 degrees!!!! so then I told him we just started 20 mins ago and brought the milk from the store so he checked it 20 minutes later and it was good!!! He said we're a clean operation!!! Yay!!!

 

Boots

post #13 of 24

:level::beer: Yay!!!

 

Have you checked http://www.cheftalk.com/products/ here?

I think there are a couple of therm pens on there.

If not just ask ........

 

mimi

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

So today was day nine of my endeavor to become the food cart magnet of Manhattan.  Everything went alright but the bacon fat I used to lube the griddle didn't seem to have to much effect on the eggs. I am flummoxed.  I eeked out a technique by which I litterally scrapped the egg of the griddle while flipping it and that made pretty good Bacon egg and cheese sandwiches, but I'd rather get the nicely done egg that I 'half scrambled for that rustic look' zipped up off the griddle and flipped over in one effortless motion instead of hacking away at it till its flipped. 

 

What am I doing wrong? o.O

 

I am also having another problem here.  I think the griddle gets to hot and when I put it on its lowest setting it goes out. I've had to rotate turning it on... then off... then on... to keep it at a quasi steady temp... even then I get that dreadful 'grease smoke' rarely and have to scrape the lube off the griddle and re-lube.  My griddle is a CNG thing with these odd little knobs with two flame icons for hot... one flame icon for low and nothing in-between.  Even on low I'm getting to the smoke point of bacon grease... HOW?!?!

 

This would all be better if I could work beside a professional chef o.O

 

Any chefs out there want to work on a food cart with me:)

 

Boots

post #15 of 24

CNG?

 

mimi

post #16 of 24

It sounds like the high temperature limit control on your griddle has broken and needs to be serviced. Check the owner's manual or with a local distributor to see what the temp limits should be for each setting. For about ten dollars you should have a griddle thermometer to make sure the temps are correct. 

Once you get a steady grill temp, it will be easier to fix the egg problem. 

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by BootsWhitlock View Post
 

Laser thermometers are anywhere between $50 and $250 I think going with the good one would be the thing to do. 

 

I got my first health department inspection today!!! It went great!!  we checked the milk and it was at 50 degrees!!!! so then I told him we just started 20 mins ago and brought the milk from the store so he checked it 20 minutes later and it was good!!! He said we're a clean operation!!! Yay!!!

 

Boots


Good job on inspection!  Laser may not read oil temp but the temp of your cooker.  They work well for skillets and griddles.  Big box home improvement store will have a very good one for less than $100.  

post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by flipflopgirl View Post
 

CNG?

 

mimi

 

Compressed Natural Gas *(CNG)

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

It sounds like the high temperature limit control on your griddle has broken and needs to be serviced. Check the owner's manual or with a local distributor to see what the temp limits should be for each setting. For about ten dollars you should have a griddle thermometer to make sure the temps are correct. 

Once you get a steady grill temp, it will be easier to fix the egg problem. 

I'm quite sure this griddle doesn't have a high temperature limit control.  I'm sure the third generation of these food carts will have something like that on it.  I'll have to take a picture of this beast for you.  Looked around on the net and the closest thing I could find to it is the 'super chef rgt-24' but I don't think its even that good. This is something I shall take up with my technical people to see what I can see.  Once we get there what temperature is good for a griddle and eggs??

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimyra View Post
 


Good job on inspection!  Laser may not read oil temp but the temp of your cooker.  They work well for skillets and griddles.  Big box home improvement store will have a very good one for less than $100.  

and off to hom despot I go:)

 

Boots

post #19 of 24

The high temp limit control is not something you can see. It is part of the gas valve apparatus designed to shut the gas down when the grill reaches a preset (preset by the manufacturer) temperature. In your case, there are two settings, low and high. 

     From your description, the grill goes out on low or stays on too long on high. "Even on low I"m getting to the smoke point of bacon grease…" 

That's because the control is telling the gas to shut off. It shuts off on low because it thinks the grill is hot enough.

I can't give you a technical explanation for how it all works. In short, it's broken and you need a service repair. 

     325-350 is generally a good temp once you have it working right. And that may in fact be the manufacturers intended temp. But a service call and a griddle thermometer will get you back in good shape. 

post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

The high temp limit control is not something you can see. It is part of the gas valve apparatus designed to shut the gas down when the grill reaches a preset (preset by the manufacturer) temperature. In your case, there are two settings, low and high. 

     From your description, the grill goes out on low or stays on too long on high. "Even on low I"m getting to the smoke point of bacon grease…" 

That's because the control is telling the gas to shut off. It shuts off on low because it thinks the grill is hot enough.

I can't give you a technical explanation for how it all works. In short, it's broken and you need a service repair. 

     325-350 is generally a good temp once you have it working right. And that may in fact be the manufacturers intended temp. But a service call and a griddle thermometer will get you back in good shape. 

Are griddles supposed to be able to turn on and off in order to maintain temperature??  Mine has what seems like a piezoelectric spark to start it so I don't know if it would be able to start again once the temperature dipped below a certain threshold.

 

Boots

post #21 of 24

My short, technically incomplete answer is Yes, the griddle shuts off when the correct temp is reached and back on again when the temperature drops. During use, grills appear to be on all the time simply because the food being cooked is drawing heat from the grill, so the temp is constantly dropping below the required level, thereby requiring a constant or near constant flame.

If you leave the grill on, but cook no food, the gas eventually shuts off once the temp at the appropriate setting has been reached. As the grill cools, the temp drops and the flame comes back on. 

How long this takes depends on whatever factors are cooling the metal of the grill. Without any temperature regulation, If no food is being cooked, nothing lowers the temperature, so the gas would remain on, eventually making the grill much too hot. So a regulator is installed to make  sure that does not happen. 

     A restaurant supply store, (NYC is loaded with them, one on Delancey Street comes to mind) will have a grill thermometer for about ten dollars. Set the thermometer on the grill, turn the temp on low. Don't cook anything. See what the temp gets to and at what point the gas shuts off. Do the same on the high setting. 

   From your description of the situation, the device that regulates the temp is out of whack. I have found that this is not a situation you can fix yourself, so you need an equipment service to diagnose and correct the problem. 

post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 

I have figured it out. My griddle is what they call "manual" I did a google search and found the differences 'manual vs. thermostatic' and found that I need a thermostatic griddle conversion kit for my griddle.  The problem is that I can't find one.  So I'll find the manufacturer of the innards of my griddle and buy the innards of one of their thermostatic griddles and swap out the parts.

 

My griddle is so manual that there is only a pressure actuated piezoelectric starter to get the gas going like on your backyard grill... I've seen the guts of this beast and there is no mechanism in place to 'turn on and off the flame' at temperature.

 

Boots

post #23 of 24
I have never worked on a grill with a thermostat, you just have to learn where to set your flame. I have three burners , one is about 75% open, one half and the third off.
This gives three zones to cook in. When it's slow, I adjust the flame so the grill doesn't get too hot. Turn it back up when it gets bust again.
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 

Apparently my griddle doesn't have a low enough setting when it is slow.  It always gets to the smoke point of bacon grease(my lube of choice:). So I turn it off and on and off an.. well you get the point. Oh it is going through a service call this Tuesday. We'll see how it is after that:)

 

Boots


Edited by BootsWhitlock - 11/17/15 at 1:39am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › The Foodie Cart!!!