Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
An October 2013 event in New York that asked gourmet chefs to work with ingredients from a well-known fast food company may have seemed ridiculous on its face. But it helped illustrate the confluence of popular tastes and skilled cookery.
The event involved turning breakfast egg dishes, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and fries into such dishes as tortilla Espanola, Kung Pao Chicken and a type of gnocchi (from mashed fries). But this competition among chefs actually trails a trend on the West Coast by several years: the emergence of gourmet taco catering carts.
For at least a few years now, event planners have discovered the emergence of on-site taco catering as a means to accommodate the tastes of partygoers. The taco is perhaps among the most versatile of dishes, allowing any number of ingredient combinations – including Caribbean and Jamaican selections, Island and Mexican preparations and a broad variety of salsas, toppings and sides.
Importantly, those ingredients can be healthy and savory, easily eaten by hand, and yet allow for personal tastes. Many gourmet chefs will attest to the fact that the magic is in the quality of ingredients and pre-event preparation.
Also, as all chefs in the finest of restaurants know, the ambiance is part of the experience. This is why this type of cuisine is increasingly popular – mobile taco carts can bring the party to some of the most beautiful venues possible. Where a beach, bluff, home, museum, park, or hermosa vista may not accommodate a full-out sit down dinner, each of those venues are candidates for gourmet taco service from very moveable, adaptable cart set-ups.
Gourmet taco carts have rolled into some of the best parties in Hollywood as well as some of the more exciting film production sets of Southern California. But the application of this idea – that great, interesting food with near universal appeal can go where the party or event is – works in community events, employee conferences, at product launches, fashion reviews, museum openings, auto sales days, corporate and financial hospitality, on campuses, municipal events and real estate grand openings. The combination of quality food and creative presentation is what makes taco cart themes so appealing to such a broad spectrum.
The Food Network and the general rise in awareness of food variety has a lot to do with fostering this trend. More young people are training as chefs, and many more embrace the importance of pleasing crowds even as they think as both chefs and artists, providing a level of creativity in food not seen ten years ago. No one misses the rubber chicken dinners – or the warmed over, reconstituted burgers.