Written by Rasta Taco
Whether man or woman, the tacomeister defines multitasking. But behind every taco cart is a lot of careful preparation – and hygiene certification.
To most people, their interaction with mobile taco cart catering is in the midst and milieu of a party. That’s because tacos and special events go well together. The venue might be a hotel ballroom, a beach – or that unique mansion where the kitchen is too small but the taco carts are more than sufficient to serve the crowd. Fun times!
But there’s plenty of work going on here. The company handling the catering didn’t just decide to do this yesterday. There is a lot of work and preparation that taco caterers do to ensure a quality event, delicious food, and that food safety matters are handled to perfection.
So when you get your next tilapia-avocado taco with tomatillo salsa from the smiling and attentive cart tacomeister, think about what he or she represents in preparation for this gustatory event:
Proper taco cart – The cart is actually a complete kitchen, with cold storage to keep food fresh and a grill for cooking. The temperatures of each have to meet local health department requirements. It has to be kept clean and simultaneously stocked with just enough food to satisfy the collective appetite of the anticipated crowd.
Food handling certification – Some municipalities require food-handling staff take a specific course to be certified; in other places, those requirements don’t exist. This is why a regional taco catering company is probably a better bet because they have to certify everyone and everything for all jurisdictions.
Understanding of taco cooking basics – The meat of the taco has to be cooked (even if it’s tofu, or chicken, or jackfruit). It’s a Goldilocks challenge on the fly, as most tacos are made to order in front of the diner: not too much grilling, not too little, and evenly on all sides. Vegetables are generally pre-cut, but this is where the diner can make choices (while the meat cooks, perhaps with onions and tomatoes in the mix). And did we mention the tortilla? If it’s a soft shell, flour or corn, it needs to be warmed up and made just a tad crisp. All of this happens in as little as 90 seconds, simultaneously.
Ability to read/hear the diner – Everything above is basically science. But the tacomeister is in fact an artist (or “artistic scientist”). They are both waiter and chef, helping the diner through the decisions of what their taco should be. Sometimes, they are asked where the margarita bar is. So it takes a special kind of person – arty foodie geeks, please apply! – to pull off this dance of taco preparation and perfection.
In fact, most taco diners might remember the smile of the server and the taste of the taco, never really thinking about everything that made it happen. As it should be.