Nick Helm, known in Phoenix as “The Food Truck Junkie”, has been following the street food scene since January of 2012. He’s come a long way from his early days of hopping on food trucks to lend a helping hand, to becoming a prominent food truck enthusiast with a keen eye for “food pornography”. Along with building up strong support in Phoenix, he has started to attract the attention of other food trucks and foodies in the U.S., and in other parts of the world. His goal for 2016 is to travel to as many hot spots as he can to “eat his weight in state” in other food truck communities in the country. Check out my short, but sweet interview with him.
Q. Who or what inspired you to get into the food truck scene?
A. Back when “The Great Food Truck Race” started on Food Network, I would watch that show and say, “Wow… that came out of a food truck?” and “Damn. That looks delicious”. So when the first Street Eats Festival came out that year here in Phoenix, I thought it would be fun to go. But, being its first year, the festival was a complete disappointment. From lack of parking, to food trucks running out of food, it was discouraging and turned off further interest to many people. But, for me, I still wanted to see what this was all about. I then started up a Twitter account just to find where food trucks were going to be during the week. Since then, this interest has turned into a passion, which allowed me to meet some amazing chefs and entrepreneurs, and eat some delicious street food.
Q. What was the best thing you’ve eaten off a food truck?
A. From Jogasaki’s Sushi Burritos to the Maine Lobster Lady’s Lobster Mac & Cheese, I’ve had so many amazing dishes, it’s hard to claim one as the best thing I’ve eaten. Now, if you break it down into food subcategories, such as burgers, tacos and so on, then I can claim one to two dishes. Also, I’ve only eaten off food trucks mostly from the Southwest. I’d really like to see what the rest of the food truck nation has to offer before I determine my favorites.
Q. Where do you see food trucks going in the next year?
A. I see food trucks being able to have more freedom, in regards to having less restrictions placed upon them. I’ve been to spots where we’ve had parking enforcement and the police come and shut a lunch service down… with customers in line! It is very tough when “Brick and Mortar” businesses have more say in whether food trucks should operate or not because it hinders their business. From my point of view as a customer, food trucks allow me to have variety and choices. In the coming year, I see local governments being more open to having food trucks operate within city limits and realizing that the mobile food industry is bringing business and money back to local communities.
I’ll step off my soap box now =)
Q. What new food trends have you seen?
A. Right now, I’m seeing a lot of Asian fusion, mostly. The bold flavors just go so well with anything, whether you’ve had it marinated on a burger, folded up in a tortilla or had it just made straight up teppan-yaki style. I’ve always been a fan of Japanese food and I’m longing to have some sort of Mediterranean-Asian fusion. Just think.. Teriyaki Lamb Gyros. Now doesn’t that just make you want to break a plate and scream “Banzai”? Another trend I’m seeing is Dessert. Here in Phoenix, we LOVE our dessert waffles and those trucks bring a crowd of die-hard fanatics from all over the Valley. Apart from waffles, we have other desserts making their mark too. From cupcakes and donut bites, to cinnamon rolls and churros, these trucks know just how to satisfy our sweet tooth!
Be sure to follow Nick for more food truck adventures: