Q: Any advice on how to stand out in O.C.’s saturated food-truck market? A: The gourmet food truck craze gets several things right: clean trucks, friendly service, changing menus, and quality ingredients. Stick to those. But fusion and freak-show cuisine has been done to death. (Who thought Asian tacos would so quickly go from novelty to cliche?) Surprise everyone by making well-executed versions of foods everyone loves. For instance, if you’re going to make pizza, don’t make a tofu faux-pork-belly pizza with Assyrian woodchuck cheese, seaweed, and kumquat sauce on a wheatless crust. Just make the best possible version of the traditional kind.
In the winter of 1985, I had dinner in a tiny Balboa Peninsula restaurant with Steve Hawk, with whom I was sharing an apartment, and a group of his lifelong surfer friends. Freshly arrived from Pittsburgh—and with the Beach Boys and Jeff Spicoli as my only points of cultural reference—I was sure I was in for a vapid conversation about hot babes and tasty waves.