Food Truck Nation
Expo Milano 2015
Near our USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 is a separate site we call Food Truck Nation. In communities across America, small towns and large cities alike, food trucks have become a source of regional pride, a place to gather and meet, an opportunity to eat great food, and a viable business incubator for young entrepreneurs. Food trucks are also a great democratizing force in the American food scene, bringing the quality and values of some of the finest chefs to the people, both literally and figuratively. Each region, each locality has its unique food truck culture, whether we’re talking about the popular, permanent food truck parking lots of Portland, Oregon, or the free-roaming Korean taco trucks of Los Angeles, or the peripatetic Schnitzel & Things truck that brings freshly fried pork, chicken, cod, or eggplant schnitzel to people around New York City.
When the Expo granted us an additional site for food they solved two problems; ours and theirs. The prohibition against open flames, LP gas or other combustion meant that the Food Trucks would use more electrical power to heat the conduction cooking and grills. The additional site gave us an additional allocation of power to run 6 trucks. In solving our problem Expo gained a large scale food source; Food Truck Nation serves up to 4,000 meals a day at an Expo themed as a food Expo, but without a great deal of readily accessible food. Expo also neatly disposed of a site that was uncommitted while generating a bit of income from the food sales (a percentage of all sales of all food and products sold at Expo go to finance Expo).
When the site was offered it meant that the food storage we built in the pavilion was too far to resupply the food trucks during the day. The storage required to serve 4,000 meals can't fit inside a food truck. We placed a series of containerized refrigeration on the Food Truck Nation site, under the platform used as a place to eat, a place to watch the crowd and a place to escape the heat and relax.
Because the site was offered late in the process, and because Italians have an understandably circuitous approval process for food projects, we had little time to build Food Truck Nation...21 days to be exact. It opened on time, started serving excellent fare and has been packed ever since.
A few more statistics; we have served nearly 150,000 burgers, sales doubled on August 1, on July 4th we gave away 8,000 cans of Pepsi Max; we sold out everything on August 29th when we also set a new record for attendance at the pavilion.
While Italians congregate in piazzas, Americans use the street as the public realm. The Boardwalk at the USA Pavilion is a reflection of that reality, as Food Truck Nation is a modern take on the power of the street.