Note: Since this street food trend is getting a little out of control, it's time we get to know the vendors behind it all. Today we're kicking off a weekly series that will profile street vendors from across the country. First up, the Food Shark in a little town in West Texas.
Name: Food Shark
Vendors: Krista Steinhauer (chef) and Adam Bork (art director, mechanic, food prep, and cashier extraordinaire)
Location and hours? Center of town in Marfa, Texas, on Tuesdays through Friday for lunch between 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What's on the menu? Falafel (or in Food Shark terms, "marfalafel"), hummus, salads, and a variety of daily specials including regional fare (like Mexican) and more
How many years have you been street fooding? Three.
You on Twitter? If so, how has it affected business? Yes (@foodshark). It's a convenience for regular customers and builds interest for potential ones who live out of town, state, or country but can look at our daily specials and know what to expect when they do visit Food Shark.
Why a mobile business over brick-and-mortar? It's a low overhead, two-person operation and people love the truck and outdoor community space more than they'd probably love our restaurant in a conventional building.
Typical customers? All sorts—locals, urban transplants, ranchers, art tourists, and regular tourists.
Describe a typical day from start to finish. Krista, the chef and co-proprietor, starts cooking around 5:30 a.m. and decides what the daily specials will be. Adam, the art director, mechanic, co-proprietor, arrives by 9ish and makes a mad dash to get everything cooked by 11 a.m., our departure time for our spot. We're generally slammed until 1:30 p.m. or so, sometimes until closing at 3 p.m. Then it's back to the kitchen to clean up and prep for the next day. Adam takes care of all truck related issues. The work day ends around 6 or 7 p.m.
What are/were you doing before this? We both worked during the opening of the local boutique hotel, The Thunderbird. Adam is an accomplished artist and musician. Krista was living abroad (in Italy and Eastern Europe) for several years doing photography and eating well.
What makes your food so special? Can anything like it be found in the city? Food Shark is a unique operation in a unique tiny town. It's difficult to describe—it must be experienced to be appreciated. (The nearest falafel is three hours away in El Paso.)
How would you define "street food"? Food that's prepared, bought and consumed on the street from a vehicle, cart, stand or hole-in-the-wall joint.
The best street food city and why. Go. We like Istanbul, New York, Berlin, Palermo, and random joys here and there (tripe trucks in Florence for example). Street food should be flavorful, relatively inexpensive, and the operation should have a distinct personality—that can be found all over the world, now including Marfa.
What's your comfort food after a long day on the streets? Chips salsa for Krista, and ice cream for Adam from the local coffee shop (FRAMA), and enchiladas for both of us.
Advice for an aspiring vendor? Invest in comfortable shoes. Don't sink a lot of money into it. Improvise with conviction until you succeed, but don't be fickle. Make sure you like to cook and be around food—not everyone does. Make food you like to cook and like to eat. Love and appreciate your customers and colleagues. Have fun with it—don't take yourself too seriously. Be willing to work much more than people should work. Don't be flaky. Take vacations and let people know when you do so they don't grow resentful.
Food Shark Commercial
How many music video commercials have you seen with lyrics about marfalafel fritters? Yeah, that's what I thought.