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Or maybe it's Woodstock for food trucks. Or Lollapalooza. Whichever, for three days before the first NJ Super Bowl, 30 of the area's best food trucks will hold their own Super gathering near MetLife Stadium. The Winter Blast will show that "food trucks have come of age," says organizer Jon Hepner.
The Blast, aka The Pre-Game Before the Big Game, will be held this Thursday, 4-10 pm; Friday, 4-11 pm; and Saturday, 11 am to midnight, at Buchmuller Park, just off Route 3 in Secaucus.
Among the popular trucks on hand will be...
--Aroy-D, the Thai Elephant (Thai)
--The Cow and the Curd (battered, fried cheese curds)
--Dark Side of the Moo (sandwiches, sausages)
--El Lechon de Negron (Latin)
--The French Quarter (New Orleans food)
--Gorilla Cheese NYC (grilled cheese sandwiches)
--Green Radish (vegan, organic)
--Hunger Construction (stuffed baked potatoes)
--Jersey Johnny's Grill (wieners, fried chicken)
--Luke's Lobster Truck
--Mo Gridder's Authentic Bronx BBQ
--Oink and Moo BBQ
--Original Soup Man
--The Outsider, Pinch of Thyme Catering (eclectic)
--Polkadot Cupcake Shop
--RU Hungry Grease Truck (mega sandwiches)
--Shorty's on Wheels (Philly steaks and sandwiches)
--The Taco Truck
--Two Chefs in the Kitchen (pizza, hot dogs)
--Waffle de Lys
--Wrap Star (wraps and sandwiches)
One-day admission is $15 per person (age 10 and up) or $35 for a family of four. Advance tickets available at northjerseyevents.com.
A beer garden will feature Flying Fish Exit 16, New Jersey Beer Company Garden State Stout and Hudson Pale Ale, plus beers from Brooklyn Brewery, Heineken and Anheuser-Busch. There will be a vendor village with music, games, prizes and giveaways. The park’s covered ice rink will feature local hockey competitions, sled hockey and open skating. Several New Jersey Devils are scheduled to make appearances.
Hepner, 48, co-owner of Aroy-D, The Thai Elephant Truck, (Facebook.com/ElephantTruck), last year organized the New Jersey Food Truck Association (NJFTA).
A former corporate IT professional, Hepner joined the scene three years ago with his wife, Pupay, a native of Thailand who wanted to start her own business. Pupay, 33, came to the United States in 2006 and met Hepner online. They married in 2008.
“She missed her food so much that she decided to start making it here,” Hepner explains. “She found stores that sold certain spices and the curries and seasonings and things that she could get regularly in Thailand.”
Pupay enrolled in a six-month culinary program in Bangkok.On her return, she worked in restaurants before launching the truck and naming it Aroy-D, after a common Thai expression, meaning "This is so delicious!"
The Thai Elephant stops regularly in Montclair, Hoboken and sometimes Parsippany, serving authentic spring rolls, cashew chicken, pad thai noodles, drunken noodles and tom ka gai, a creamy coconut milk soup.
Hepner sees Winter Blast as a great way to spread the word about the quality and variety of food trucks today. The competition between the 30 trucks can only help all of them raise their game, he says. “I’m not afraid of parking next to anybody,” he declares."There will be something for everyone, and when we’re together, more people come out.”
SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at suzannelowery.com.