Behind the Scenes with an L.A. Food Trucker: Manila Machine Filipino Food
"..We are proud to be the first food bloggers to start our own food truck business, but we are even prouder that The Manila Machine is the very first food truck in Southern California to serve Filipino food."
I won't say there are no great Filipino restaurants here in the United States (there are) but they are few and far between. Even in Los Angeles of all places—a great food town in its own right, and home to one of the largest Filipino-American enclaves in the U.S.—Filipino cuisine still remains a mystery to many locals.
Over the past few years, and in my own small way, I've been attempting to unlock some of these mysteries by researching and writing about Filipino food on my blog, Burnt Lumpia. But in order to bring a greater awareness and appreciation of Filipino cuisine to the rest of the world, or at least to Southern California, I realized I needed to go beyond blogging.
So with my business partner Nastassia Johnson, a fellow Filipino-American and a fellow food blogger (Let Me Eat Cake), we set out to bring Filipino cuisine to the masses via our very own food truck, The Manila Machine.
Nastassia and I are proud to be the first food bloggers to start our own food truck business, but we are even prouder that The Manila Machine is the very first food truck in Southern California to serve Filipino food. Our mission is to introduce the masses to the flavors of Filipino cooking, while also offering Los Angeles' large Filipino-American population a true taste from home.
Why Did We Get Ourselves Into This?
While starting a food truck business is a daunting enough task in and of itself, there's even more pressure when taking up a banner of cultural pride. So why would a couple of food bloggers with no professional cooking experience take on such a challenge?
Well, someone had to.
And it was time for Filipino cuisine to get the attention it deserved. So why not us? Why not a couple of bloggers who are passionate about food? Why not a couple of Filipino-Americans who feel a great responsibility for introducing our food and culture to the world?
And so, on June 10, 2010 The Manila Machine opened its windows to an already waiting crowd, eager for a taste of Filipino food. With a menu featuring chicken adobo, sisig, pan de sal sliders, and ube cupcakes, among other tasty offerings, The Manila Machine has been rolling strong since its debut.
Truckin' Ain't Easy
But believe me, there have been plenty of bumps in the road for this food trucker after only one month in business (and counting). Aside from endless recipe-testing and the initial hassles of obtaining business licenses, city permits, and startup capital, I've already had to deal with truck design delays, keen-eyed health inspectors, exploding fryers, copy-cats in waiting, and the true test of patience and stamina amongst food truckers known as "finding, claiming, and obtaining an empty space of concrete"—a daunting practice otherwise known as "parking."
No, Serious Eaters, truckin' ain't easy here in Los Angeles. But after all is said and done, it's been worth it. So far.
Check back in to read more about the making of The Manila Machine, with whiffs of all that tasty Pinoy goodness, next Monday.
Until next time. Love, peace, and adobo grease.