Reporting Sara Pelissero
With so many new — and delicious — food trucks hitting the streets of the Twin Cities each summer, it’s almost too tough to keep up. Well, fear not, we’re here to help. Here’s this week’s Friday food truck feature!
When you have a name like Andrew Zimmern attached to a food truck, the advertising tends to take care of itself. The two-time James Beard Award-winning Bizarre Foods host said he’s wanted to do something like this for a while.
After tasting hundreds of food trucks around the world, Zimmern said he was inspired to bring a concept of his own to the table — one that would encourage folks to branch out and try something new.
Zimmern said there’s nothing he loves more than food with a story — so let’s share his, shall we?
Owner: Andrew Zimmern
Date the food truck opened: Summer 2012.
What made you want to open a food truck? The idea has been in the works, in one fashion or another for years. After eating at hundreds of food trucks around the world and seeing fans line up at the food trucks events I’ve hosted in South Beach and New York, I realized such a flexible and mobile concept would be ideal. The truck is set up so that it can travel to anywhere I’m headed for events, appearances, TV shoots and promotional support.
Price range of menu: Mostly between $7 to $10.
Hours of operation: Hours are flexible depending on the day, so we’re updating our Twitter page (@azcanteen) and website (www.azcanteen.com) daily. The truck is also available for catering and sponsor events.
How did you decide on the menu? These are foods that deny complexity but taste sophisticated. I’ve been talking about expanding the protein choices of Americans for years. I love goat and wanted to feature that first and foremost, so I created a burger blend and a sausage blend for goat with my friend and business partner Pat LaFrieda.
Our papaya salad is based on my favorite Vietnamese and Thai eating experiences. The tongue slider comes from a hybridized attempt to merge vitello tonnato with my inner Jewish grandma. The desserts are perfect choices for a truck, one from my favorite scoop shop in America, Izzy’s Ice Cream in St. Paul, and the other inspired by the best icy treat I have ever tasted in Nicaragua and Miami. When the cooler days are upon us, the truck will keep rolling so I wanted to offer my gumbo, a true meal in a bowl. These are the foods I love to eat.
Before joining this mobile food community, what were your thoughts on the blossoming food truck scene in the Twin Cities? A superb group of crafty entrepreneurs. Great food and a great supportive community. I think there is lots of room for growth in this segment of the food space.
How did you come up with the name? I’ve always loved the idea and concept of a “Canteen” — growing up in NYC in the 60s, I’d see small canteens working the construction sites, pouring hot coffee and making egg sandwiches. I saw expanded ideas of the same concept in Los Angeles. We worked through a list of three dozen names, and kept coming back to AZ Canteen. Luckily, it wasn’t already taken by another food truck or restaurant in Arizona. Everything with the letters AZ seems to reside there.
What do you think is your best dish? Whose your favorite kid? That being said a grilled goat sausage or goat burger and an icy Jamaica, and I am a very happy guy.
Describe your truck in one word. Tasty.
What’s one thing you want people to know about your truck? We want to spread the gospel of good food as I have tasted it around the world. It’s a safe place to experiment with something new.
Catch the Friday Food Truck Feature every week, in the Curiocity column. Know of a food truck you think should be featured? Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting your suggestion to @SaraPelissero!