Today I interviewed James Cunningham, the host of Eat St.television show on the Food Network (Cooking Channel). We discussed food trucks, season four of Eat St., the new Eat St. cookbook, and even touched on the meaning of life. The first thing James told me was, “Life is too short for bad food and cheap wine!” James is a comedian by trade and caught me off guard by reciting my Blog’s tag line. He then told me that we would get along famously, because he loves great food as well. From that point forward we chatted like old friends, over our common love of food trucks.
James, tell me about the state of the Mobile Food Industry and the influence of Eat St Television Show?
“We traced it back to 2008 during the start of the recession. You had high-end Chefs out of work and sick of working for other people. Down there in Southern California, you can lease a turnkey truck for $30k and hit the road the same day. A Chef can start up their dream without the barrier posed by a brick and mortar”
A perfect example of what James mentioned is Chef Joe Youkham’s Tasting Spoon Truck, which appeared on Season Three of Eat St. Prior to jumping into the food truck world, Joe worked as the Executive Chef at the prestigious Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Beach. With a low barrier to entry, Joe Youkhan thrived in the Gourmet Food truck market and is consistently mentioned as one of the top food trucks in Southern California. See my review of Joe Youkham’s Tasting Spoon and pictures from the Eat St Episode.I was in that episode providing color commentary. See the YouTube snipit from the episode.
Since first airing a couple years ago, Eat St has become the place to be seen by the food truck community. A truck’s appearance on the show has become a litmus test of legitimacy. James Cunningham went on to tell me that, “I can’t even begin to count the number of gourmet food truck operators tell me that Eat St. inspired them to start up their own truck.”
Since the food truck craze is now mainstream, what can we expect from Season 4 of Eat St.
“Eat St has been a huge success and the Food Network decided that the new season four will be a double season with 26 episodes. We covered over 125 different trucks this season from all over North America, including Southern California. There is definitely a food truck culture thriving all across North America… I keep hearing from people saying that they have plans to vacation in Portland or Austin, so that they can try some of the famous gourmet food trucks featured on Eat St.”
Some of the trucks you might expect to see in Season 4 include The Dump Truk, in Portland, that serves traditional Chinese Dumplings stuffed with “Tasty American Classics” like bacon cheese burger . Talk about reverse fusion!
Here are some of the trucks from Southern California that you might recognize on the show. Keep in mind that you also may see some familiar faces in these episodes.
- Chomp Chomp Nation
- The Bite Truck
- The Lime Truck
- The Flip Truck
Eat St. Cookbook
Tell me about the cookbook, how did it come to be developed?
“After a couple seasons we were getting emails from viewers asking for the recipes from the show. We even had multiple viewers tell us that they actually tried slowing down their DVR, so that they could write down the recipes.”
James went on to tell me that they sent out an email to all the food trucks who participated on the show and asked them for their recipes. According to James
“It was obvious that the Chefs are crazy passionate about what they do and they didn’t hesitate to share their best recipes with us. The response was so strong that they pumped out a 124 recipe cookbook. “We asked the trucks owners to keep the recipes simple enough so that the average home chef can make them. The folks at Penguin books did a really amazing job with the layout.”
Some of the Southern California trucks to submit recipes include Dos Chinos, Peanut Butter Truck, Crepes Bonaparte, Lime truck and Burnt Truck. Other interesting recipes you will find include the Saigon shrimp ceviche, bourbon-mango pulled pork sandwich, S.M.O.G. pie (steak, mushroom, onion and gruyere), and maple bacon cupcakes.