The Foodie Cart!!!

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by bootswhitlock, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. bootswhitlock

    bootswhitlock

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    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
     
  2. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    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.
     
  3. bootswhitlock

    bootswhitlock

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    A picture is worth a thousand words:)


    Boots
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  4. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    @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
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  5. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    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
     
  6. bootswhitlock

    bootswhitlock

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    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
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  7. rick alan

    rick alan

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    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
     
  8. mike9

    mike9

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  9. bootswhitlock

    bootswhitlock

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    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
     
  10. mike9

    mike9

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    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.  
     
  11. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    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
     
  12. bootswhitlock

    bootswhitlock

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    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
     
  13. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lever.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/drinkbeer.gif  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
     
  14. bootswhitlock

    bootswhitlock

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    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
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  15. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    CNG?

    mimi
     
  16. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    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. 
     
  17. jimyra

    jimyra

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    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.  
     
  18. bootswhitlock

    bootswhitlock

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    Compressed Natural Gas *(CNG)
    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??
    and off to hom despot I go:)

    Boots
     
  19. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    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. 
     
  20. bootswhitlock

    bootswhitlock

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    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