The food at Lake Lily on Tuesday night may have come out of a truck, but it wasn’t typical carnival fare.
The featured dishes at the Big Wheel Provisions truck were spicy grilled octopus with a chickpea salad and marinated chicken skewers with homemade Caesar dressing and tempura crunchies.
Joining Big Wheel at the first Maitland “food truck pod” were Korean BBQ Taco Box, Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, The Crooked Spoon and Treehouse Truck.
Attendees ate, socialized and listened to a performance by the Performing Arts of Maitland as the sun went down.
Tony Adams, chef/owner of the Big Wheel Provisions truck, said classically trained chefs, who are all veterans of the restaurant business, operate the food trucks.
“We’re not serving deep-fried Twinkies,” Adams said. “Most of the trucks are doing progressive stuff … I don’t remember the last time I saw octopus coming off a food truck.”
Each of the trucks are independently owned and are in different street corners and farmers markets throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night. They rely heavily on social media to let their followers know where they are going to be for lunch, dinner and late-night snacking.
Coming to Maitland
Starting a food truck event in Maitland’s Lake Lily Park was the brainchild of Maitland Community Events Coordinator Mari Smith.
“We jumped on the idea to set up an ongoing program at Lake Lily primarily because it’s not your everyday fare of food,” Maitland Leisure Services Director Chuck Jordan said. “Add the elements of live music from the Performing Arts of Maitland and you create a neat opportunity for people to be able to enjoy our parks.”
Maitland City Councilman Phil Bonus said he was impressed with the Maitland staff’s ability to get a piece of the food truck phenomena that’s currently sweeping the country.
“I’m optimistic that it will be a popular and fun event for people who wouldn’t otherwise come to Maitland to learn about Lake Lily and our cultural partners,” Bonus said.
Adams said he was floored that Maitland approached the trucks about doing a meet-up at Lake Lily. “The fact that the town is taking a leap to put this together is encouraging to us. They are understanding what the trends are and that says a lot,” he said.
Adams said the culinary food truck market — while already popular throughout the country — is only now taking off in Orlando.
“It’s kind of popped in the last eight to 10 weeks,” he said.
Before becoming a food truck a month ago, Big Wheel was doing mostly catering and making appearances at local farmers markets. “We made the leap to the truck because it was an inexpensive expansion,” Adams said. “It made a lot of sense.”
The meet-up or “pod” concept is relatively new to Orlando. On April 6, a pod kicked off at Firestone Live on North Orange Avenue, with six or seven trucks in attendance every Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the website TheDailyCity.com organized the first Food Truck Bazaar, which saw more than a dozen trucks in attendance, including the Winter Park Fish Co., which also has a brick-and-mortar eatery in Winter Park. The next Bazaar is 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday, May 1, in the Dillard’s parking lot at the Fashion Square Mall on Colonial Drive.
The Maitland event doesn’t cost the city anything. In fact, the city will make a little bit of money off the fees the trucks pay to reserve the space, Jordan said. Tuesday’s event was just a pilot but the city would like the event to be weekly.
The city and the food trucks are promoting their Tuesday event on Facebook and Twitter and through e-mail blasts.
The inaugural event was just getting started when the Observer went to press on Tuesday night.
Food Truck Café will be held every Tuesday from 6-9 p.m. at Lake Lily Park in Maitland. Check the city’s Facebook page or TheDailyCity.com for more details and updates.