By Emily J. Weitz; Photography by Lindsey Morris
For a place primed for picnics and lunches on the go, the East End has been slow to latch on to the food truck craze. But with the Second Annual Great Food Truck Derby coming to the Hayground School in Bridgehampton this week, the region is certainly making good ground. Offerings range from classic East End fare like lobster rolls to food you can’t find most places out here, like the Malaysian stew the Mamak Food Cart brings.
“Imagine a field,” Edible East End editor and Food Truck Derby sponsor Brian Halweil says, “with a big circle of food trucks, sort of like how pioneers would circle the wagons to make a camp.”
Only instead of canvas covered wagons surrounding a campfire, the food trucks themselves are the destination, and people get to wander from one to the next, sampling a spectrum of edible delights. Montaco’s magenta food truck will have pollo verde, fish, and roasted veggie tacos. Silver Spoon Specialties will have pulled pork sliders. Eat Me Drink Me will have decadent truffle fries, and the Wandering Palate has gotten inventive with their fish soup cup.
“Attendees stroll among the trucks and other food and drink makers,” Halweil said, “picking up tacos, dumplings, Italian ices, and more, and enjoying them at picnic tables in the middle before getting up and trying some more.”
Tickets for the event are $45 in advance, and with entry you can try a sampling from every vendor and drink to your heart’s content. The Southampton Publick House, Wolffer Vineyards, Clifton Dry Hard Cider, and Sweet ‘Tauk will provide the beverages.
The idea for the event came from Edible’s affinity for food trucks: the variety, economy, and convenience.
“We love food trucks, of course,” says Halweil. “They’re a great way of getting a variety of food options into a neighborhood or town. That’s part of the reason they’ve exploded in the New York region and nationwide.”
Laurie Trujillo-Mamay, of Hampton Foodie, says she was the first mobile kitchen out here on the East End. Her restaurant on wheels started in East Hampton, but now sets up shop daily at Sagg Main. She’ll return to the Great Food Truck Derby this year after a great time last year.
“Last year there were torrential downpours right before the event,” Trujillo-Mamay recalls. “Then the sun came out, the gates opened up, and we were flooded with people.”
They underestimated the number of portions they’d need, and attendees kept coming back for more.
Trujillo-Mamay is from California, where food trucks are not quite so novel.
“People are finally recognizing it on the East End,” she says. “I’ve been doing it for nine years now, and it’s getting way bigger.”
She believes food trucks are having such success because of the variety they can offer.
“My menu is extensive, and you get to try a lot of different things,” she says. From her station on the beach, the variety is a stark contrast to the once-predictable hot dogs and ice cream.
“My whole goal is to allow people to go out without bringing their own food,” she says, “but to not eat a hot dog every day either.”
At the Great Food Truck Derby, she’ll be bringing her fresh ceviche this year, served with crisp tortilla chips.
“I try to stay different,” she says, “and to offer items no one else would have.”
That uniqueness is something that keeps the Mamak Food Cart in demand as well.
“Mamak specializes in Malaysian cuisine,” says Jordan Cheah of Mamak Food Cart. “We use many spices for our dishes, and we cook in a traditional, artisanal way where it would take us four to five hours to prepare a dish.”
For the event, they will be preparing their signature dish: rendang.
“It is savory curry rendang chicken served over coconut pandanus flavored rice, pineapple achat, seedless cucumber, and sambali chili egg,” explains Cheah. “The spice from the rendang curry along with the sweet pineapple achat (pickles) creates a perfect balance. It’s an awesome dish.”
For all the preparation required of the vendors, for the consumer, this event is all about fun and ease. That’s what food trucks are all about.
“By its very nature,” says Halweil, “food truck food is designed to be easy. It’s often for lunchtime workers on the go, or commuters grabbing a bite. It tends to be finger food – lobster rolls, dumplings, tacos, cones – food you can eat with your hand.”
Perhaps the only problem is the sheer quantity of food available at the event.
“We had to figure out a way that an attendee could sample through the twenty or so trucks,” he says. “And it’s totally doable if you are willing to keep moving the whole event. We worked with the trucks to come up with more focused menu items and servings that are appropriate for such a tasting event. The result is, between all the trucks, you get an awesome diversity of options.”
The Great Food Truck Derby will take place on Friday, August 9, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hayground School on Mitchells Lane in Bridgehampton. For more information, go to www.ediblemanhattan.com.