Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
Creative gourmet chefs might be good at making an awesome tilapia taco. But the smart event planner also makes sure he or she has permitting and insurance documents.
Although the street vending food goes back to biblical times, the food truck phenomenon in America involving gourmet offerings is less than ten years old. One of the signs of the maturing of the industry is municipally-required permitting, health department compliance and insurance.
Given the renegade gourmet chefs who are the engine behind gourmet mobile vending, that might be surprising. But most of the people behind this movement are entrepreneurs with a firm grasp of the realities and exigencies of running a good, solid and safe food service operation. Many exist with a great deal of help from social media, where an enterprise’s trials, triumphs and tribulations travel as fast as you can say “Instagram.” Also, many cart vendors began their careers in bricks and mortar restaurants, where food safety, employee liability and insurance are a real part of serving food to a sophisticated dining public.
A food industry blogger noted in 2011 that among several key events in the development of this industry is when the city of Los Angeles started to require that food trucks receive a health inspection grade (as of October 2010). The legal industry around mobile food service providers, including Los Angeles taco catering companies, obtain certain permits, licenses and registrations, including the following:
- Insurance – A businessperson’s investment in equipment can only be protected from fire, vandalism, foodborne illness outbreaks, theft and personal injury claims by way of property and general liability insurance policies. This more than protects the proprietor – insurance underwriters will typically inspect the business to limit their financial risks and in so doing ensure a safer environment for patrons, employees and the communities in which business is transacted. Just as important, this protects an organization hiring the caterer.
- Business license – This registers the business within municipalities where they work, subjecting the enterprise to local food service mandates and scrutiny.
- Mobile food facility permit – While a mishmash of different requirements by different municipalities challenge the food car operator, permits do enforce requirements on hours of operation, packaging, lighting and waste disposal methods that have valid reasons for existing. Everyone wants happy neighbors, after all.
- Health, food safety and food handler permits – Each of these is designed to limit the chances of food borne illness or other untoward events that could occur in a food business operation.
These are the things rarely if ever discussed on the Food Network. But each plays a role in protecting the public and raising the trust diners have with mobile taco carts and the like. Only with that level of trust can people become diners, and that trust needs to be earned one customer and one meal at a time. Event planners also need this assurance, as it is the job of most to, above all else, do no harm. From there, a gourmet event on wheels can make a party come to life and leave attendees with a satisfied feeling – and not a stomach ache.