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Food truck fever

Orlando's mobile food scene sheds its training wheels

Photo: Photo by Jason Greene, License: N/A

Photo by Jason Greene

Despite all the paperwork, Joey Conicella, owner and marketing director for the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, which will debut at the Food Truck Bazaar, says he's been impressed with how helpful Orlando's permitting offices have been in getting his truck up and going. (In fact, no food truck owners interviewed for this story cited issues with the permitting process.)

Conicella found his truck, a 1973 aluminum-clad Chevy step van, for sale while driving around Colonialtown one day. It was a perfect match for Yum Yum Cupcake's kitschy, retro vibe. "It was almost like kismet," Conicella says of the moment he and his husband, baker Alex Marin, laid eyes on it. "The [food truck] culture is based on converting old Chevy step vans" that in a previous life were postal vehicles or Frito Lay trucks and the like, he says. "They're very cheap." Conicella and Marin paid $3,150 for theirs, but making it a mobile kitchen - with a baker's rack, three-compartment sink, handwashing sink, refrigerator, hot water, generator, air conditioner and other updates - cost another $18,000.

Yum Yum's truck is currently undergoing a paint job. Then it will be loaded up with cupcakes: chocolate on chocolate, vanilla with buttercream frosting, red velvet and other flavors requested by customers via Twitter or Facebook.

As of now, Yum Yum doesn't have a set location, and Conicella says Yum Yum plans to be a little more mobile than your average food truck. You may find it parked at meters in the Thornton Park, College Park and Lake Ivanhoe neighborhoods in the coming weeks.

Another new food truck on the scene bears a name familiar to most locavores and Orlando foodies: Big Wheel Provisions. Tony Adams, chef and co-owner of the Big Wheel food truck, says he and chef Tim Lovero started the truck as an expansion of Adams' business. Two years ago, Adams launched his catering and charcuterie company, Big Wheel Provisions, with the intention of promoting locally sourced food. "Our goal is to change the way Central Florida eats," he says. "And the way we want to do that is to highlight all of the awesome local people that are creating food. We want to get that food into the hands of the diners." He regularly sold out of his Monday-night prix fixe dinners at the Audubon Farmers Market, and his catering business was growing. The natural next step, Adams says, was the food truck. "It was a fraction of the cost of any other way of expansion," he says. "Tim came to me and said, 'Hey, I want to open a food truck.'" Adams didn't need much convincing.

People have been following Adams' progress with the truck on kickstarter.com, where he asked for donations to get it up and running, and on Twitter and Facebook. Last week he kept followers posted as he struggled with a busted engine belt on the truck, letting people know when it would (and wouldn't) be able to be at its designated location. Promoting via Twitter and Facebook is apparently working well for Big Wheel: During the truck's inaugural launch and subsequent late-night hours last week, the order line was sometimes 10-deep.

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