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Meals on Wheels

Debbie and Joseph Koh’s family and friends might have oohed and ahhed as the newly married pair cascaded into their reception venue, a hip downtown art gallery. But it was what awaited their guests in the adjacent parking lot that incited squeals of delight.

Sitting outside was the Kogi truck — the gourmet Korean barbecue meals-on-wheels business that launched L.A.’s hot food-truck craze.

The popularity of these food trucks — serving high-end cuisine at street-level prices — has recently spread to Southern California’s wedding scene, with a growing number of couples hiring the mobile caterers to feed their hungry guests.

“Food trucks offer amazing food and endless options,” said Molly Taylor, owner of the Sweets Truck, which specializes in decadent cookies, cakes, coffees and ice cream.

In addition to having Kogi serve an all-you-can-eat (for two hours) assortment of spicy pork tacos, kimchi quesadillas and short rib sliders at their June 11 wedding, the Kohs also hired Coolhaus, a food truck that serves imaginatively flavored ice cream sandwiches.

Dessert included such exotic flavors as Tahitian vanilla bean, horchata sorbet and Nutella toasted almond sandwiched between a variety of cookies including dark chocolate with sea salt, vegan chocolate chip and lemon rosemary.

“Everyone is telling us, to this day, that it was hands-down the best food they ever had at a wedding,” said Debbie Koh, a native Angeleno who now lives in Oakland with her husband.

“Logistically, it was nice that we didn’t have to provide dinnerware, because it’s all eaten by hand. We scattered a few cocktail tables throughout the reception and people were happy to mingle and eat.”

David Fune, owner and chef of the Vizzi Truck, isn’t surprised that the inclusion of food trucks at weddings is increasing in popularity. They offer couples the advantages of lower catering costs, versatility and personal service — not to mention a considerable cool factor, he said. 

“Trucks have talented chefs that specialize in mobile service. No hot boxes or chafing dishes are required to keep your food warm when you hire a food truck, because the kitchen travels with the food,” he said. “The kitchens are also versatile and do not require additional rental equipment, so it also keeps the cost down.” 

Since purchasing the Vizzi Truck less than two years ago, Fune says he receives nearly a dozen inquiries each month from couples interested in having him cater weddings. For a reception of 100 guests, he offers 21/2 hours of unlimited noshing for approximately $2,100.

Dana and Joseph Muscatello weren’t so much concerned about saving money as they were about offering their 80 guests a taste of L.A.’s trendy food scene.

The Muscatellos, who eloped last year while on their way to the Burning Man event in Black Rock Desert, Nev., held their wedding reception on July 9 at the Focus Studio in Venice Beach.

“Living in Venice, we often go to First Fridays on Abbot Kinney or Tuesday nights at the Victorian in Santa Monica, and we think the experience of eating from food trucks is fun and that gave me the idea,” Dana Muscatello said.

“I wanted to do something different and I wanted to share the food-truck culture with our guests.”
For three hours, guests at the Muscatellos’ reception dined on a variety of Vizzi Truck’s culinary specialties, including braised maple-balsamic beef sliders with chimichurri crème; grilled blue-cheese parmesan crème cheese sandwiches made with seasoned mushrooms and onions; and venison burgers topped with maple-Dijon sriracha aioli, charred sweet onions, panela cheese and bacon.

“Everyone loved the food,” Dana Muscatello said. “They are still raving about it.” 

One of the biggest advantages of food-truck catering is the cost savings, said Koh, who estimated that she saved about $45 per person for her evening reception at the Hold Up Art gallery in Little Tokyo, compared to traditional on-site catering services.

When hiring food trucks, couples should consider the special logistics involved with mobile catering.

“If you are thinking about a food truck wedding, it is important to be aware of where the trucks are going to be parked at the venue, if guests are going to have easy access to the truck from the main reception area, and if the trucks can drive to your venue,” Taylor said. 

“[In] the past few years, we’ve found ourselves at some interesting and fantastic events. [And] if someone asks, ‘Hey, have you been to the Sweets Truck or the Grilled Cheese Truck’ and your answer is, ‘Yeah, they catered my wedding,’ then you are going to be the coolest person they know,” added Taylor.

Kim Kabar, Custom Publishing Writer

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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