Sandwiched in every juicy slider, sprinkled on every cupcake, stuffed in every dumpling and sizzling on every rack of baby back ribs is a secret. Or a few.
After tallying your votes, we’re down to the Final Four contenders in the Ultimate Philly Food Truck bracket, presented by the Philadelphia Contributionship. Repping their respective bracket quadrants are Stuff’d Buns, Oink & Moo BBQ, Dump-N-Roll and Cupcake Carnivale — and these impressive truckers have some fun stories to tell.
A common thread among the colorful narratives Billy Penn extracted from the four finalists: In order to be the very best, not only do you have to deal with some weird shit, you have to do it gracefully.
Seems like if you work a food truck, you’ve just gotta…must…not…make…bad…pun…oh well…roll with it.
Read on for some inside dishing on the mobile eats life, then vote to get your faves in the Championship Round.
(Note: You can also cast a vote in person at our Ultimate Philly Food Truck Celebration on Sunday, June 24 at New Liberty Distilling.)
Proprietor Rachel Knable
Wackiest customer story: We’ve had multiple people come back after eating our buns and say things like, “You guys can stuff my buns anytime.” We’ve also had an older lady approach our truck, point at her butt, and say “No, ladies, these are stuffed buns.”
Most outrageous order request: We had someone come back after eating three sliders and then order eight more… of each.
Favorite menu item: The Buffalo Shrimp, but our new addition might beat it: Mac Attack!
Dish that didn’t make the cut: Chicken parmigiana.
Most interesting vending location: The Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square, it’s unreal!
Why Philly? Philly is an “underground art” city, from its food, to its music, to its vibes. We like to think we create a little bit of art with each slider.
Proprietors Sean Parker and Elisabeth Cowan
Wackiest customer story: Where to begin… We see a lot of intoxicated customers. At one private event, we had a drunk woman put her cigarette out on the wrap of our truck, burning a hole in it! The price tag on that party went up pretty quick.
Pet peeve: When we are vending at a busy event and have a long line, when it is time for the next customer to order and they haven’t even glanced at the menu at, that’s a pet peeve! It just throws off the whole flow. We were asked if we sold Cubans pretty frequently after the movie “Chef” came out. (They don’t). It was an exciting time.
Favorite menu item: It depends on the day, but we put our Moo-tang sauce on everything we eat! It’s becoming a problem.
Dish that didn’t make the cut: Fries.
Most interesting vending location: The Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Show has the best views and Made in America has the best people watching. We also catered for a recent Super Bowl-winning team, not naming any names… ha.
Why Philly? The festival scene is still really strong, when you consider how saturated the food truck scene is. Plus, getting to live in South Philly is a huge bonus.
Proprietors Peter Tong and Phillip Mannery
Wackiest customer story: How does someone stare at our non-typical menu, most likely digest said menu, and then ask if we sell hot dogs?!?! We also have a customer who has been following us nearly everywhere for about a year and a half.
Most outrageous order: The most outrageous order we’ve had was during a festival where everyone was hammered and hungry. A customer made a $300 purchase. Wish there were more of those, lolz.
Favorite menu item: The Gasm-Roll, which has bananas, macadamia nuts and Nutella rolled in layers of phyllo dough, french vanilla ice cream, smoked banana rum caramel and our secret ingredient.
Dish that didn’t make the cut: A lot of items! We had one that was there for a limited time (the steak roll), that people loved. However, with our standards of high-quality ingredients and the prep time required, we couldn’t make it cost-effective.
Most interesting vending location: The dopest place we’ve ever parked at was upfront on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway close to all of the main stages during Made in America. The noise and the scenery were incredible. The weirdest was probably vending at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Seeing guards and inmates walking around was definitely weird.
Why Philly? This is our hometown! My siblings and I are “first-generation,” born and raised in North Philadelphia by Vietnamese immigrants fleeing their homeland in search of a brighter future. As a minority growing up in a neighborhood where everybody was struggling, we had a high chance of becoming a statistic. Fast-forward 32 years later, through the adversities of divorced parents, addictions, depression and suicide attempts, I found my calling. We built a platform to share our story, to impact with the greatest efficiency and results everywhere. Life is truly a blessing.
Proprietor Jeff Jimenez
Wackiest customer story: We’ve dealt with a lot of frickin’ weirdos. We’ve had a lot of WTF moments. One time, at a Pride event, two drag queens were arguing with each other, as they were buying cupcakes. After they got their order, they got into a fistfight. There was nail-scratching, there was hair-pulling, and eventually, one drag queen managed to snatch the wig off of the other’s head.
Pet peeve: When people confuse us for an ice cream truck. My logo is one big cupcake merry-go-round. It’s literally a giant logo, and it is clearly a cupcake. And yet, they always ask me for ice cream.
Favorite menu item: My favorite cupcakes are definitely the more adventurous flavors, with multiple components. My current ones are my cookie-dough cupcakes. A dollop of raw, edible cookie dough, with frosting on top (of the cupcake).
Dish that didn’t make the cut: I’m a big fan of the Orange Mint Tic-Tac. I really wanted to replicate that type of flavor, but it didn’t go so well.
Most interesting vending location: The most interesting (but also the most fun) event I’ve ever participated in was the Witches Ball. It’s basically a costume festival, but it’s not your typical costume party. The costumes lean more toward the macabre. People get really dressed up in these morbid, elaborate, dreadful-looking attire. I enjoyed it a bunch because everyone gets decked out.
Why Philly? I like vending in Philly because it is definitely a food truck-friendly city. People here really appreciate gourmet street food or street sweets. Philadelphia residents have a taste and have an appreciation for it.