FoodTruckr Heroes: Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon

Truth time: the food truck industry isn’t for the lazy or weak of heart.

Notoriously restrictive local laws make it tough to even get a truck up and running.  Then, if you manage to open a food truck, you’ll be working long hours and grueling shifts to bring in even small profits.  Doing okay and bringing in regular income from your truck?  Well, you still have to compete with other food trucks and local brick and mortar restaurants to attract enough customers to make your business sustainable over the long-term.

It’s a tough game, and not everyone is up to the challenge.  But our latest FoodTruckr Hero, Chef Joe Youkhan, most certainly is.

Joe runs Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon, a gourmet food truck and catering business in southern California.  Though Chef Joe has a pretty impressive culinary background (he worked as an Executive Chef in the events and catering division of the Ritz-Carlton, served as a Corporate Executive Chef at Chat Noir, and has even appeared on the Cooking Channel’s “Eat St.” and Food Network’s “Chopped”), it’s his deep engagement in the food truck community that has earned him a spot on our list of FoodTruckr Heroes.

See, to be a successful food truck owner holding your own amidst tough competition and stressful working conditions, you have to be willing to go the extra mile in every aspect of your business.  Chef Joe exemplifies this lesson.  From his carefully crafted recipes to his frequent participation in local events, Joe knows that running a food truck isn’t just a job—it’s a lifestyle.

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There are, of course, innumerable factors that go into running a successful food truck business, so we’ll just highlight a few of the things that Chef Joe is doing oh so right:

1. Community Involvement

Sure, you can make a living by having regular truck stops and a pretty stable routine around the city—but you can really take your truck to the next level by getting involved in community events and festivals.

During the month of April alone, Chef Joe served at a radio fundraiser, WonderCon, the Newport Beach Food and Wine Festival, a “Spring Fling” carnival event, and a yacht show.  He also served on the judging panel at Kid Healthy, a program dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.  Chef Joe’s involvement in the local community allows him to connect with fans and has helped him build a reputation as a committed, passionate truck owner.

2. Sharing Stories

We believe that sharing your personal story is one of the best ways to connect with fans.  Sharing your story can take many forms—some food truck owners right in-depth bios on their sites, others explain the origins of their truck’s name, and many post photos and updates from their lives alongside their upcoming locations.

Chef Joe lets fans get to know him through the “About” page on his website.  Here, we have the chance to learn about Joe’s culinary background and the origins of his truck, but we also get a glimpse of what inspired him to take this path—he “grew up in a culinary environment” and frequently enjoyed “his Nana’s home cooked family meals in New York.”  We also learn a little about his personal life in the “Interesting Tidbits” section—turns out that Chef Joe once had a small role in a Jennifer Love-Hewitt movie and has a black belt in Eagle Claw Kung Fu and a 2nd degree purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu!

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3. Incredible Food

At the end of the day, food truck success stories are really all based around the food, and Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon is no exception.  He receives regular rave reviews from his fans, and has received a number of prestigious awards over the past 10 years.  Here’s what Chef Joe has to say about his cooking:

“A lot of what I do is taking any ingredient and try to maximize its flavor and texture potential.  So even if it’s ‘just’ mashed potatoes, you’ll eat it and say to yourself—WOW, these are the most insane mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten, how did you do that?  I enjoy the simplicity of the final product; even though it may be a complicated process of butchering, brining, cold smoking, and finally grilled and glazed.  Then you have my Signature Pork Chops.  To my guests, they may appear like “just a pork chop” until they eat it and realize it’s the best pork chop they’ve ever eaten.”

Talk about true commitment to the craft!  Plus, aren’t you hungry for a juicy grilled pork chop and some of those awesomely flavorful mashed potatoes just after reading that description?

By staying truly involved and giving 110% in every aspect of his business, Chef Joe has already made a huge impression on thousands of hungry, loyal fans.  He’s a great example for food truck owners who want to get more involved in their communities, and an inspiration to all of you who are working to open your own food trucks now!  Keep up the great work, Joe!  We’re so excited to name you as our latest FoodTruckr Hero and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.

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image from Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon Facebook page

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About the Author

Nicole Farley

Nicole Farley is the Managing Editor at FoodTruckr and a food truck aficionado. A graduate of The University of Kansas, she loves writing, business development, connecting with food truck owners, and cheering for the Jayhawks. Connect with Nicole on the FoodTruckr Facebook page or email her at [email protected]

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