Troy Thomas of The Rolling Stove Talks Food Truck Business

We continue our interview with owner and chef of The Rolling Stove food truck, Troy Thomas. Read part one of the interview here.

New Times: How do you choose your locations?

Troy Thomas: I wouldn't even know where to go on my own. I'm like the little brother asking other trucks can I come, can I come?

Are Food Truck Roundups the way to go or do you prefer to go out on your own?

My real problem is that I'm so involved with cooking I don't have time to scout out locations. I'm in Delray, my kitchen is in West Palm. Like yesterday, I left Delray at 1:30 to get to Biscayne in time for dinner. The truck owners are trying to find solutions. I'm going to share a parking space in North Miami with the Miso Hungry and Purple People Eatery trucks. Everyone's trying to find trucks to work with, alliances, people that they get along with.

I hear the police have given the trucks a hard time.

There weren't really police chasing us. At the 109th and Biscayne spot, a truck went onto private property and the person that owned the property got angry. All it took was that one person to get the police involved. The meetup actually got too big for that spot. The spot we have on 127th and Biscayne, we pay a permitting fee for each week. It's totally legit.

There are so many trucks at the roundups -- do you have any tips for choosing which one(s) to eat at?

I see people just wander around, like zombies, walking from truck to truck. They're confused. The people who work for me think I'm crazy, but I tell people before you buy from me, look around at all the trucks. And the longest line doesn't necessarily mean the best food. The biggest line could mean the slowest truck so you can't go by that. Go on Facebook, Twitter, and investigate. We try things from different trucks and there are so many different kinds of food. A lot of the trucks are now doing smaller plates so that people can try a number of different things. I do empanadas , one is chicken from my jerk chicken sandwich and the other is sloppy jerk so If someone wants to try jerk chicken, I suggest the empanada. It's a smaller bite than my sandwiches, which are pretty big.

I want to start a food truck - -how do I do it?

As long as you follow directions or go to someone who builds food trucks, you won't have a problem. I had to submit architectural drawings for the truck and I had to submit the menu. They want to know if you're doing chicken, etc., because there are health issues with certain foods. That's s step that regular restaurants don't have to go through. I submitted the plans while the truck was being built and then I had a week before my health inspection. I'm licensed through the state, so in Miami I just had to get an occupational license . Now there are longer waits because there are more new trucks. There are one or two trucks a week coming down the pipeline.

Do you think this is a trend or the start of a food revolution?

We're just starting out. The oldest truck hit the streets Dec of '09, so we're new.

Why do you think food trucks are becoming so popular?

The food isn't necessarily cheap. It's more the fun aspect. The hunting down of the trucks. It's like a game of hide and seek. Our motto is catch us if you can.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss