Chefs on wheels

A kitchen like at home – just better.

With the original V-ZUG food truck, top chefs tour the country in a mobile home. Here’s how it came about.

Andreas Caminada stands in a corner and places onion rings in small bowls. Just a few centimetres away, Tanja Grandits drops prawn dumplings into other containers. At the other end of the narrow space, Walter Klose moves around with trays of cutlery and crockery: welcome inside the first V-ZUG food truck. It might be narrow, but the mood is nevertheless cheerful.

The top chefs – Caminada, Grandits and Klose – inaugurated the kitchen on wheels a few days ago and it was a success! As Marketing Director Attila Castiglioni admitted to the very first guests on the Zugerberg, it took several years to reach this stage.

As is often the case in the kitchen, it all began with an idea: as the street food wave gains momentum, food trucks have become part of the street scene – certainly in the US but increasingly in Switzerland too. Converting a caravan into a fully-equipped kitchen on wheels seemed a good idea. First, however, the right vehicle had to be found – a task easier said than done. Finally, an original US Airstream Type 27 was chosen, the Porsche 911 of mobile homes and an iconic vehicle. Airstreams have been in circulation since 1931 and there is no better or cooler base for a genuine food truck.

Left for scrap, the mobile home acquired for this conversion project was far from being a bright and gleaming kitchen on wheels. Several months’ work by a specialist company in Germany was required on the original vehicle, of which almost only the shell remained. The roughly 65 square metres of aluminium were stripped, primed, polished, polished and polished some more and a tailor-made kitchen was installed, creating the 8.5 metre-long shining chrome beauty standing before us.

Tanja Grandits, still dressing prawn dumplings with a creamy, aromatic tomato soup, says that, “The kitchen is just like at home – but better,” and laughs. Two combi-steam cookers, an oven, a dishwasher, an induction cooker, a professional range hood, a Teppan Yaki and numerous refrigerated drawers have been installed, offering plenty of options: Andreas Caminada combines tender, marinated cubes of whitefish with a lemon, onion and saffron stock while Walter Klose serves thin slices of Gupf-beef jerky with a mustard vinaigrette and a fruity-sour raspberry vinegar jelly.

Food truck cooking is simple, hearty and personal. Just like the four little dishes served by the quartet for the inauguration of V-ZUG’s first kitchen on wheels. In the book “Food Truck Kitchen” (AT Verlag), which explores Swiss food truck operators and their fare, the expression “culinary street artists” stands out. In this food truck, leading chefs not only tour the country; they also show a different side to their persona – and it is quite fascinating.

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