Richard Hales on Roundups: "A Crutch for Crappy Food Trucks"

Banana Cream Pie Slice.jpeg
Banana cream pie from Baketress
​Richard Hales's Sakaya Kitchen was a pioneer in both locale (midtown, then a ghost town in terms of eateries) and concept -- affordable, chef-driven, Asian-inspired small plates (pre-Gigi, Wok Town, Pubbelly, etc.). Hales was also right at the intersection of the original food truck courts; his Sakaya Kitchen Truck, then Dim Ssäm à Gogo truck were and remain two of the best. His new set of wheels, just now rolling out, is the Baketress dessert truck, with pastry chef Vanessa Paz at the helm.

Hales emailed me recently concerning something I had written awhile back about food truck roundups; he wasn't happy about the direction things were going. So I asked a few questions about that subject -- and also inquired about Baketress desserts.

New Times: What do you think about the current state of the food truck roundups?
Richard Hales: We (Latin Burger, Fish Box, and Dim Ssäm à Gogo) started the first roundup on 65th and Bird Road a year ago and sort of wish we didn't. Roundups became a crutch for crappy food trucks to survive without going through what we did and especially what Latin Burger and GastroPod went through developing a customer base through good food and social media. The bottom feeders took over the industry and effed it up.

The concept of food courts was supposed to be the offering of cool, home-cooked street foods at a fair price and in a fun atmosphere. Would the term jumped the shark be applicable?
A select few of the trucks are still doing just that, but we have been infiltrated by uncool, overpriced, and processed carnival food. No, I would not say it "jumped the shark," but there has to be a correction toward better concepts, ingredients, and flavor.

Do many of the original food truckers agree with your assessment? What can be done about it -- a separate, exclusive food truck court?
All the top trucks have the same complaints; we even have meetings to discuss issues. The organizers have taken over the whole industry and the food trucks just pay and line up these days. Separating ourselves has not worked for the roundups, so we are looking just to find places where two to three trucks can park and serve the community.

paz misobacondonut.jpeg
Vanessa Paz' miso bacon doughnut
Cool. Now tell us about your new Baketress dessert truck, and about the Baketress herself, Vanessa Paz. And are her desserts being featured at Sakaya Kitchen?
Vanessa is very talented and we are doing some real homey desserts. She is low-key and will present something to me that on paper sounds too simple -- but when you eat it it makes your knees buckle. We are starting with pies and doughnuts and will start to work ice cream into the menu. Everything is made from scratch, from the pies to the toppings and sauces. We are still working on the doughnut menu and will have a "bao" type doughnut.

The Baketress ice cream menu features things like housemade "chaco taco" and a brownie ice-cream sandwich; milkshakes come in flavors like banana cream pie and pumpkin 'n' bacon; ice-cream toppings include miso glaze, apple cider caramel, and peanut brittle. So the question is: For those who don't always run into food truck courts, will these desserts be featured at Sakaya Kitchen?
We are working some of the desserts into Sakaya Kitchen midtown at the moment. My plan is to put a full display of them once we get downtown going. The downtown location will have a counter just for Baketress and Panther Coffee.

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Location Info

El Bajareque Bar

278 NW 36th St., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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Garde Manger
Garde Manger

I have seen that bigass man sweating in his truck making my food and it is always a special treat!  On occasion he has even made light conversation.  I don't see how the opinions of this hard working person, with what he sees and does every day for a living should be under scrutiny by any folks that don't.But that's Miami for you-all quantity and no quality!  Richard Hales, has off the charts culinary knowledge and experience in about 15 different directions and levels.  His passion for food has taken him all over the world and then to open the restaurant one of the most prestigious hotels in the world here in Miami.  So, sorry I trust he knows what he's talking about and moreover has a valid opinion.  I love how some of the residents of the Dade County, who never venture outside of the 305 think the planet revolves around Miami.     "Food trucks are a Miami fad?"  WTF?!!?   That statement is simply incorrect.Calling yourself a 'foodie' means nothing to a culinary professional.  It expressly shows your naiveté, you dickweed!  You obviously have no clue what you are talking about, so that's another STFU to you.  I think the fact that those guys laid all the ground work by dealing with all the fines and penalties initially from the city of Miami over zoning and not being able to conduct sales on public or private property even with the permission of the property owners, all this effort to make it an easy in for the lame carnival food venders is what irritates him.

'Cause that's what Miami does, they take a cool idea and instead of expanding on it like Portland or NYC they water it down or more to the point, dumb it down so it's cool for everyone.  You know what? When everybody likes it then it's no longer different or unique it become mainstream=boring. Like your opinions, haters.  Suck it!

What, you don't like the spicy siracha cheese over the sweet roasted rib meat and tater tots, or is it you just don't understand?

MiamiConsumer
MiamiConsumer

How about paying $5 for a frozen lemonade  from one of the trucks at the Burgies awards..I'm talking about something smaller than a McDonalds small drink. It looked like Cisco quality, not at all fresh squeezed. The actual good trucks that offer a fiar value can be counted on half of one hand.

MitchRFW
MitchRFW

I remember a while back when i saw Latin Burger post this article. http://dirtydiningblog.wordpre... I'm sure you've corrected some, most or hopefully all of your violations, but even though you might have corrected them, the fact still remains that you probably had the most on this list while others had zero. You might be more creative with your fancy menu names but it dosen't make you or your trucks better than anyone else. If a truck is crappy, they won't survive. "Taste" is a matter of opinion. Quality is a matter of "facts". Don't spit up brother.

Troy
Troy

Richard has a right to voice his opinion and has very successful restaurants/trucks.  These are attacks calling asshole, etc sound like jealous people probably in the food truck industry.  Consumers just would not get that personal...how could they.  Sakaya Kitchen ushered in a new style of dining for Miami, Dim Ssam a gogo brought a lot of attention to the food trucks.  Both concepts have remained on top since they opened with great food.  Food trucks need to just as good as any dining option, period!  

LolyT70
LolyT70

I don't own a food truck. Im just a consumer. Its ugly to try to convince people that because you opened your establishment/food truck before others, it gives you more senority.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion & what you consider carnival food might just be what another person considers comfort food & what you call high end (tator tots w/ some beef thrown on top) might be odd & over priced to others.  There are no winners or losers, its a matter of taste & preferance.

I work downtown, so i've frequented the couple Trucks that have been there for lunch but  i know my friends & coworkers got bored of same trucks on bird & 65th. We stopped going after a while. Now with all the Food truck get togethers, we've started to come out again because there is DIVERSITY!!! And it is MY choice who I will choose to eat from.  It should not be Richard's or any of these so called top 5 or 10 or whatever. Let us the CONSUMERS be the one's to choose what WE want.  New York, California, Chicago have THOUSANDS of trucks.  Its a trend. Tighten your buckles because Miami is next.  Everytime you look around, there's another freshly built food truck hitting the streets.  Good for them.  Are you going to try & fight or put down all the other Food trucks & restaurants opening up soon, too?  

Just because you started when this miami trend started dosen't mean it should stop at you & those couple that started around the same time. Yeah there are some crappy trucks, but there are way more good ones than crappy ones & to be honest, a few of the top ones are on my crappy list! So if i happen to have a love for cooking but am not a "Chef" or restauranteur, does that mean i should not open a food truck because i thought of the idea too late or because you think that what I might have to sell is not at par with your views on what a food truck "should serve?" Get off your high horse & worry about how you're going to diversify yourself or make yourself stand out with your food & not with what you put out in the media. It dosen't look good on you. The only thing i got from this article was "arrogance, God complex & jealousy". Im not here to bash, just being honest.  Btw, i have been speaking to a local food truck builder here in Miami & i will be building a truck soon to add to Miami's growing population of food trucks. I will be your competition one day & you will be mine & thats just fine with me. Get over it!

Realz
Realz

What are PRICK and a lying sack of crap! I've seen ALL of his "top food trucks" at many of the roundups!

Of course there will be great, good, and just bad trucks! Just like there are great and horrible restaurants....no shit!?!?!

Just because he has a restaurant and a few trucks gives him the right to bash everyone else? So who gives a flying fuk if he was the FIRST food truck? Now he's a trendsetter? Come on! Get your head outta your ass!

"We have been infiltrated by uncool, overpriced, and processed carnival food." You're the "cool" police now too? Overpriced? Have you checked YOUR prices lately?....carnival food?...now you choose what people may sell as well?...those "carnival food" trucks are often the ones with longer lines you MORON!

Melissa
Melissa

Excuse me, but what gives you the right to bash and name call another human being who you know nothing about! He's simply defending his business and his craft, as he has all the right to. I've been to these round-ups and the truth is a lot of trucks have low quality food and run of the mill concepts. They ruin it for the trucks that are great, like Richards. And his prices are more than fair for the quality of food he is serving his public. It seems your the one that needs to get his head out of his ass and educate yourself before you speak. Maybe pick up a dictionary and learn some new words..."Prick, lying sack of crap, Moron"? Really! Learn a better way to express yourself without having to use 5th grade insults.

Roman
Roman

All these negative replies have to be the shit food trucks that the article talks about. Who cares what he thinks it's his opinion. Why would ypu get so offended if you were not taking it personally. I've gone to many truck events and the food mostly sucks. The lines are almost nonexistent as they were before. I think the intent of the article was long lost on you people. If you own a truck make better food!

Beastkiller
Beastkiller

I blame burger beast for the whole thing. Dim Ssam A GOGO rules the world

Food Truck Lover
Food Truck Lover

I am personally shocked to read this article. We live in the United States of America, a FREE COUNTRY where consumers have the right to eat or not eat what they choose. Suggesting that bottom feeders are ruining the food truck industry is to say that food trucks ruined the restaurant industry. What he is referring to bottom feeders, are any "new" truck that isn't one of there original 5. Everyone has the right to open whatever business they choose. Some (NOT ALL) of the newer trucks have some amazing food, while the larger trucks are so secure with their "popularity" that they skimp on they're food quality and serve stale bread and ridiculous prices (reasonable Dim sam a gogo? yeah right $15 for tater tots and beef). 

If the big trucks can't stand the heat, then get out of the food truck. People know what is good and what is not. If you want to segregate businesses based on date of establishment, let's all go back to the time where hot dog carts and roach coaches where the only food trucks, and we can refer to Sakaya and the others as "bottom feeders". This guy is an arrogant prick. We live in a capitalistic economy. I'm sure restaurant chains aren't fond of food trucks taking there business, but they are not going to say all the food trucks are crap. Sakaya is a chicken sh** that can't deal with competition from the newer trucks. FYI there are more every day. Not every restaurant in Miami is great. Not every food truck is great. But some will knock your socks off, and everyone has the right to buy whatever they want. The more choices the better.

The 1/2 %
The 1/2 %

... The roundups are a fad at least here in Miami where even MIAMI is a fad to Miamians!

You say we are free to eat what we want? If so why is the government trying to regulate howich sugar is in cereal or how much fat is in hot dogs.

You sir are as niev and stupid as most people in this country. You probably are one of the OCCUPY idiots that are camping out and playing thier stupid drums and protesting nothin in particular.

You are an idiot and a loser... Go back to you stinky BO infested tent and die!

madhatt3r1
madhatt3r1

Your reply has absolutely nothing to do with teh discussion. Who is the idiot?

EatIt
EatIt

Name names, which ones suck?!

Also, food trucks have been around NY and LA for years, so anything is a ripoff of those.

Dick
Dick

I think the point he was trying to make was that the food truck scene is getting played out due to the amount of trucks that serve carnival food, and there are a lot out there. I own a foodtruck only because of my love for cooking and the instant gratification I get when I see someone enjoying something I have created.... and the fact I couldn't afford a restaurant yet. The idea of having my own little mobile restaurant was to good to pass up. Yes the good trucks will survive and yes there are trucks trying to keep the new guys out because they don't have enough fb likes. The fact that you are judged by likes and tweets and not the quality of food sucks but will change..Support the trucks that deserve it!

madhatt3r1
madhatt3r1

the points you bring up have nothing to do with the fact that Richard is a huge asshole! The best thing a truck owner is to focus their energy on making the best product they can and giving the best customer service they can. This will determine your success. The fact that Richard has to attack other trucks and other restaurant owners(in the past) just shows what an insecure piece of crap he is. IMHO he should take his sorry ass back to Tampa. He is doing us no good here. Local business owners should be helping each other out not bashing one another.  whomever came up with the idea to rate trucks on facebook likes or twitter follows should be ashamed!

For the record, I am not a truck owner. I am a consumer, your customer. If as a customer I can already see what an ass an owner is, how do you think that is going to influence my next purchase? You think I will be frequenting Richards establishments? I walked away from all of his places months ago and don't miss them a bit!

Gisellepp
Gisellepp

you obviously did not understand anything in the article. the only reason for that, is because you are a "customer" right? so you don't really know what is going on inside the industry and how real Chef Richard comments are. you are a customer with an immense need to talk but there is no need to call anyone names or insult people -more when you don't know him. there are different perspectives about the current situation, and you shouldn't feel so affected, you eat where you want, i bet nobody reading this really cares. Richard is an outstanding chef and he has plenty of knowledge in the industry to provide his point of view, he has worked hard to gain that respect from the industry.   

Brian
Brian

madhatt3r1 you are a jealous little troll. why dont you let everyone know who you are so everyone can see the shit food truck you own?  so tough on the comment board but probably the biggest troll of them of them all.  Probably not allowed to park with Richard because your food is what he is talking about.  When you lay down at night and think about your looser life compared to all the other successful top trucks Im sure it hurts and you wonder why not me.  Because you SUCK and you know it, think about that tonight loser.

Melissa
Melissa

Jealous much? That has to be the only valid reason why you would choose to personally attack someone you don't know. You accuse him of arrogance and stealing other peoples ideas? His arrogance, as you call it, is confidence. Confidence in his business and his product. And he doesn't steal anyone's concepts or ideas, he's got far too many of his own to waste time with someone else's. His success speaks volumes, while your words only speak of a man who is jealous, envious, and bitter. If you took a few minutes to educate yourself on Richard Hales, you would find that his accomplishments are greater than many men ever dream of. If you have chosen not to eat at his establishment, that's your own personal choice! But don't worry I don't think he misses your business. He's way too busy with his overly successful restaurant, Sakaya Kitchen, opening up a second restaurant in downtown, making incredible desserts with Vanessa Paz, thinking up new and creative concepts, both for his restaurants and his food trucks...and oh yeah, he's also too busy arranging the many awards he's won for his food. So in comparison, who's the asshole?

madhatt3r1
madhatt3r1

I don't disagree that the quality on some of these trucks sucks, but who is Richard to speak for anyone? Who is he to bash anyone? He is screaming about Carnival food while he has funnel cakes at the round ups he organizes. I truthfully believe that the bad trucks will die when the round ups die, let nature take it's course we don't need some fat mama's boy from Tampa telling us what we should be eating!

Madhatt3r1
Madhatt3r1

Empire Builder of the Year, Miami via Eater.comNominees: Michael Schwartz, Michelle Bernstein, Pubbelly Group, Richard Hales (Sakaya Kitchen) Winner: Richard Hales, Sakaya Kitchen

Lifepartiv
Lifepartiv

as  food truck owners, we do many types of events, fundraisers, dinners , catering and yes , round ups. We too started "on the street", though rules & regs made it extremely difficult to find a good location. we were also in an area where food trucks we not well known. We did, and still do charge a fair price for a "home cooked " meal.  We chose to  participate in the round ups, or rallys, to be diverse. The expression "dont keep all your eggs in one basket " applies to this business as well. By going to rallys we meet and serve a wider array of people, all potenial future customers for  dinner ,catering , etc.   .The promotor fees can be steep, we steer clear of anything with too great a fee vs the marketing, customer base and services we will be receiving in exchange , even when the event is for charity. As for the amount of trucks  & quality of  food, as in any business there are the good the bad and the ugly . The huge round ups may  just be another foodie "fad",and when its over ,the trucks with the good food, who do it for the love more than the money , will still be serving ! See you all then !

madhatt3r1
madhatt3r1

The food truck roundups are not a "foodie fad" they are a "Miami Fad" The foodies were done with them a long time ago. As a foodie, I search out particular trucks and go to them when they are on their own. You are right about one thing, If a truck cannot survive without the roundups it will eventually die because the end of the roundups is inevitable. I heard about this BS tier system the food trucks were talking about. I'm sure A-hole Richard was as supporter of it. They wanted to rate the trucks on the number of facebook and twitter followers and only allow the trucks with so many followres at certain round ups. It is absolutely craziness. The number of followers has no impact on the quality or value of your food. A word to the food truck owners, Keep your quality high, keep your prices down and you will survive. After all the point of the food truck is to have low overhead and server quality food. Once you cheapen your food quality and your ethics like Richard has done you will lose fans!

Lifepartiv
Lifepartiv

Yes madhatt3r1. All true. We have encountered the issue w fb likes &twitter followers and being "allowed" to attend round ups a few times! It is absurd. My thoughts r like my food n truck not a page. So ok, like my page love my food! And the fact richards truck was at a "pimp "( promoter )event just last night is comical after reading the article!.

scott medvin
scott medvin

does richard currently host any round ups?

Realz
Realz

He sure DOES!

madhatt3r1
madhatt3r1

Arrogant Fuck Richard is! Who gave him the right to speak for any other truck? You call him a pioneer but all he has done lately has been stealing ideas. He needs to be knocked off of his high horse!

Andres Velasco Coll
Andres Velasco Coll

Yeah, except that I've been going to food truck gatherings from the start, and as a consumer I completely agree. I'd like the trucks to go back to being primarily -trucks-, and I want their events to be rare.

madhatt3r1
madhatt3r1

I don't disagree that the quality on some of these trucks sucks, but who is Richard to speak for anyone? Who is he to bash anyone? He is screaming about Carnival food while he has funnel cakes at the round ups he organizes. I truthfully believe that the bad trucks will die when the round ups die, let nature take it's course we don't need some fat mama's boy from Tampa telling us what we should be eating!

Random1
Random1

do you know what a food truck costs? between 30-100k. there are some bad ass chefs that can't afford that. you want to miss out on there food bc they don't have an engine. give me a break.... 

EATMYSHORTS
EATMYSHORTS

food trucks definetely jumped the shark... I hope they finally move into real food trucking like he mentioned in the article where a few good trucks go to a certain good spots everyday ... 

and the prices overall including in his trucks, are too damn high if ya ask me.. 

Jose D. Duran
Jose D. Duran

At Foodstock there was barely a line for Baketress and I couldn't believe it. (Another case of Miami not knowing what's good for 'em.) Paz's banana cream pie might be the single best dessert I've had all year.

CynthiaSan81
CynthiaSan81

maybe its because word got around that their "made to order donuts" are in fact microwaved

Guest
Guest

Your just noticing now? How about all the trucks who only do rallys, or trucks who work a whopping 3 or 4 days for 6 whole hours a week.

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