Sauce Magazine recently released their list of the six best new food trucks that have arrived on the St. Louis scene between April 2015 and April 2016. Sauce’s managing editor Catherine Klene said her staff sampled the fare of 30 different trucks in an effort to narrow the field down to the six best new food trucks in the area.
From burgers to rice bowls to brisket, the breadth of food trucks has grown in St. Louis since 2011, when Klene said Sauce’s Food Truck Friday event (which starts May 13) in Tower Grove Park only had 15 trucks. This year, 30 trucks are involved in the event.
Today, you can find food trucks at almost any outdoor event in St. Louis. Popular trucks, like Seoul Taco, Cha Cha Chow and Guerilla Street Food have been able to convert the success of their food truck into standalone restaurants. Trendy brick-and-mortars, like Mission Taco and Lulu’s Seafood, have realized the popularity of food trucks and have opened ancillary truck services to take their fare across the city.
What makes a food truck great?
“There are a lot of different components in food trucks that make them different from a brick-and-mortar restaurant,” Klene said. “Service and food are important but with a food truck you have to have the added components of effective communication (let people know where you’ll be each day), speed of service and quality of the food.”
On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Bill and Jamie Cawthon, the proprietors of one of Sauce Magazine’s top picks, Frankly Sausages, joined contributor Steve Potter to discuss their food truck, what the scene is like in St. Louis and how to make it in the food truck business here.
The couple’s food truck is founded on principles of simplicity (and principles of simplicity that St. Louisans with German heritage are bound to like): they only serve two things.
“Especially for food trucks, it is really important to get on one idea and do that idea as well as you can, no matter what,” Bill said. “Our thing is hand-cut French fries and handmade bratwurst.”
— Bill Cawthon (@williamccawthon) April 30, 2016
Their French fries are cut from 400 pounds of potatoes per week into half-inch pieces. They are then carefully rinsed and brined in a water, sugar and salt solution. After that, they are double-fried: first at a low temperature and, later, at a high temperature when they are prepared for serving.
“It allows us to build this delicious consistency of mashed potatoes (super soft, creamy in the middle) and then you get this crispy skin,” Bill said.
The sausages come in six different varieties, made with different kinds of meet: beef, pork, chicken and even (gasp!) tofu. You can check out descriptions of each here. These sausages don’t have any additives or fillers, such as pink salt, as an effort to maintain quality.
The pièce de résistance, however, is homemade dipping sauce. There are five different varieties that the couple creates from scratch: pesto aioli, honey mustard, chipotle, rosemary and Kalamata olive, and catsup.
The duo has found mentorship through other area food trucks, like Completely Sauced, their friends who founded Six Mile Bridge Beer and Bill’s connections to Gerard Craft (he was a chef at both Pastaria and Brasserie for several years).
The couple decided to start a food truck after seeking the advice of the owners of Los Angeles’ Gusto and Pistola about balancing work and family life. Bill and Jamie recently welcomed two children in their family, which prompted their move back to St. Louis from Los Angeles.
“We tease: there are magnets in your butt that attach to the Arch when you’re born and when you leave, you’re pulled back,” Jamie said. “The food truck idea was this combo of simplicity, it didn’t require a lot of equipment and fancy things because Bill is a simple chef. Simple things, really well is his thing. We’re both bankers’ children so we’re a little risk-averse, so a food truck felt like a safe next step for us.”
This Sound Bites segment is produced as a part of a partnership between Sauce Magazine and St. Louis Public Radio.
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.