Benefit v.14 celebrates the art in everything, including food. The Young Professionals Party on February 7 features three gourmet food trucks, from the savory stylings of Farm Truck and The Cow and the Curd, to the sweet success of Cupcake Carnivale.
Farm Truck celebrates its one year anniversary this February, just as InLiquid hits its fifteenth. We sat down with co-owner Kris Pepper to take you behind the wheel.
Give me some background on Farm Truck Philly.
We started almost exactly a year ago, it’ll be a year February 1st. We just got started on the idea of wanting to create a mobile source for local types of food in the city. There are a lot of food trucks, a lot of them are doing really interesting things, some of them even source locally. But we wanted to make that our mission.
Is there any other way that you distinguish yourselves with the rise of the gourmet food truck in Philly?
That’s definitely the main way, mostly during the summer when we can get everything we need locally. We reference the origin of all of our items. Mostly it’s all one farm out in West Philly. All the meats that we get come from the Lancaster area for the most part.
How did you first come up with the idea?
It started as an idea for a TV show – you can’t steal the idea by the way, we might still do it. We thought it’d be really cool if you had a food truck that traveled across the country, and whatever town or city it was in, it would hit all the local farmers’ markets and see what’s in season and then put something together. The first thing we thought of was a burrito truck because you could buy whatever’s local in season right then and wrap it up into a tortilla. It’d be kind of the national tour of growing cities. That proved logistically to be very difficult, so we’re still in Philly for now.
What are some of your more popular food items?
We rotate our menu so often its hard to say – people love tacos.
What’s your favorite food item to throw into a taco?
Right now we’ve gotta get some Lancaster pork, and we top that with an assortment of pickled vegetables, and throw an Asian slaw in there. We reduce a local beer, Newbold IPA, from Philadelphia Brewing Company. we reduce that, mix it in a mayonnaise mixture with Chipotle peppers. That adds a floral, hoppy note to the mayo.
Do you throw Sriracha into things?
There’s definitely a bottle in the truck.
Are you nervous about the shortage?
I heard about that – but no, there’s always going to be hot sauce.
Any failed food experiments that you’ve tried?
We tried to do a strawberry bacon and feta sandwich before a large event, which sounded pretty interesting and actually tasted really good, but assembly turned out to be very difficult. And when you have a line 100 people long in front of a truck at Night Market, that can be tough. We did get them all out, and people said they liked them, but it was definitely a messy situation.
But you did manage to put two of the best foods together, so kudos for that.
Strawberries and bacon – that’s kind of what we were thinking. The strawberries were actually marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette.
I never would have thought to do that – but I guess that’s why you guys are in the business.
That’s what we do, just mix things together.
You describe your truck as a rolling piece of art. Can you tell me more about that?
The truck was painted by an artist named Gabe Felice. He’s based in Pittsburgh. I grew up in Pittsburgh, and my parents still live there. There’s a high-end Mexican restaurant that he painted the side of, that I frequent whenever I’m visiting there. So one day I was there for brunch with my girlfriend who’s in town as well, and his art was looking especially interesting. I asked the waiter for the guy’s name, I sent him an email, and said “Hey I’m starting a food truck. Instead of getting a traditional wrap, I’d like to have a muralist go to work on it.”
And he just emailed me, and said, “It sounds like a plan.”
He’s a really great guy; I think the first email says a lot about him. He was definitely a delight to work with.
Do you have any favorite arts events that you like to hit with your food truck?
We’ve actually only done this once – it was a two day event at the Crane, Art for the Cash Poor, and that was a really fun one.
That was another InLiquid event.
I really did like that and I think we’re going to do it again this year.
What about First Fridays?
I like First Fridays a lot. We’ll usually take the truck out and hit multiple places along Frankford Avenue. Anywhere between the Sculpture Gym and Frankford and Girard. We always have an affiliation with the gallery. We’ve actually had the truck inside the Sculpture Gym for a benefit. It looks a lot smaller when you put the farm truck in there.
How did you get involved in the Benefit v.14 Young Professionals Party?
We did it last year, and it’s always nice to do something in February. in a rather dreary month, your event’s a beacon of light.
What are your expectations for this year’s event?
Last time it was fun to talk to everybody who was there – the young professionals. They were all really excited. The kind of crowd that comes with an event is usually a lot more interesting than the business end of it.
Do you have any advice for young professionals?
Whenever you’re starting a project that involves any amount of risk, there’s always a lot of logic in your head that’s telling you not to, to stick with something safe. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to turn that off.
Join Farm Truck at the Young Professionals Party on Friday, February 7, 6 – 10 pm, or purchase tickets to the Main Event on Saturday, February 8