Singapore Network grows exponentially! (part 1)

Dr. Leslie Tay ask me if I had eaten yet and I shook my head. He told me they have a wonderful chicken rice stall and highly recommends it. When a food blogger recommends something, YOU EAT IT!
Stuffing my face with food, we start to chat. I tell him about the lack of food trucks in Toronto, what kind of menu items I think would be delicious, what type of food I enjoyed eating, why I came to Singapore, the food trucks I worked for etc. This set the foundation for our up coming brainstorm. I asked him about his input about different ideas, meat dishes, noodle dishes, flavours, recipes, ingredients, books and classes. There was no question I didn’t ask. As I sat there taking down notes, he introduces me to the two guys filming him upon my arrival. 
He Introduces me to two NTU students, Andrew and Clement. As we start to shoot the shit, I tell them I am from Canada, and thats where things got intresting. They tell me they just came back from an exchange program in Toronto, Canada. I couldn’t believe my ears! As they asked me questions, I gave them my elevator pitch along with my ideas and purpose in Singapore. I then asked them what they were doing interviewing Dr. Leslie Tay. They told me that they have a final film project which was based on Singapore Food Heritage, they will be going around Singapore interviewing entrepreneurs and hawker stall learning the evolution of Singapore Street food. 
:O! more to come, wait till tomorrow! 

[NEW POST] Late To My Interview With Dr. Leslie Tay

January 24th, 2012. 
Its 11:15 pm, while I’m sleeping I hear my phone ring. It’s Dr. Leslie Tay. He tells me he got the “Allen’s” mixed up and the actually meeting was going to be at 12-3 pm.
I rush to my computer to google map directions to Bedok Food Centre. Google tells me it will take 90 minutes along with a series of bus, subway and walking routes. I exit the house and a wave of heat punches me in the face, I instantly started to sweat (instasweat). I get to the bus stop and a bus arrives but its the wrong bus number. However, the cool air conditioning was too welcoming to pass up. I jump on and ask the driver if it stops at the subway, he nods. 
After 30 minutes on the bus I realize I am going the wrong way and the Subway station is no where in sight. I look at my watch realizing how late I am. Not only am I late, but now I’m lost. I start looking at my surroundings, I see that there is a sky train line. I think to myself “If theres a line there has to be a station near by!” I jump off the bus and I follow the line until I find a station. I get onto the subway and look at my current location. I was so far east I must have wasted an additional 30 minutes on top of the previous 30. Long story short I arrived at Bedok Food Centre by cab at around 2:15 pm. 
When I finally arrive, I walk upstairs to the hawker centre to look around, this is where I see Dr. Leslie Tay (Singapore best street food blogger) being filmed by 2 University students. I am not sure what these students are doing but I sit in the background looking on. I wait for a window of opportunity to introduce myself. When that time came I walked over to Dr. Leslie Tay with an out reached hand and a big smile….I said “Hello, nice to met you, I’m Allen!”


Sealing The Deal With Singapore’s Best Street Food Blogger

Upon my arrival in Singapore, I had no direction, no plan. I knew I was here to research and gain inspiration, ideas, and to create a larger network of resources. I came across a website that would name Singapores top food bloggers for 2012. I acted on this list of resources asking each one of them if they would be aviablie to answer questions. I used this as my first line of screening, once they gave me the green light I proceeded with next set of questions.

I sent 50 messages at first, out of those 50, 12 food bloggers responded then answer my second set of questions. When putting all the answers into a macro spreadsheet, I was connecting the dots. Everyone told me to speak to Dr. Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost. Back in Toronto, I did some research about Dr. Leslie Tay and read some of his amazing post, I though to myself “Wow! this guy is popular, I could never get an interview with him”.
I wrote him a email about myself expressing my purpose in Singapore. He replied shortly with open arms. He told me to meet him at Bedok Food Centre on Thursday, January 24th. I got the green light to interview the biggest street food blogger in Singapore! Words can’t express how excited I am. This is truly a dream come true. 

ME.N.U’s Marketing Strategy

As I have learned from studying food trucks in Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver, Food Truck Marketing is all about building a consumer base right from the beginning. I found that customer interaction is one of the biggest factors in differentiating your brand amongst competitors. As humans, we are programmed to talk about delicious food and recommend places to our friends and family - do not underestimate the power of Word of Mouth. With that being said, there is no better tool than Twitter to help you interact with these customers. I connect with my fans directly to their mobile devices through mentions and direct messages. If you are interested in starting your own business, my biggest marketing tip would be to start your own twitter account and build your brand!


ME.N.U At Capilano University

I met Michael (owner of REUP BBQW) at the student center of Capilano Univeristy. I was introduced to Andrea, the Marketing professor of the class I was attending. We chatted for a bit about why I was there and I am thankful we did. She helped me achieve one of my food truck goals. TALKING AT A UNIVERSTIY ABOUT FOOD TRUCKS! I mentioned I’m traveling the world studying food trucks to start my own back in Toronto. She goes on to tell me that it would be great if I gave a talk. I didn’t have a choice to back out, and I’m glad I didn’t! I was going to talk about Myself? About what I LOVE? The adrenaline was pumping through my veins…

As time went on, I took time to look over the outline to see what was in store. It looked like this:

Working in groups of 3 or 4, you are to take the role of the Marketing Manager for a new, for profit business – a new food truck in Vancouver! You will develop a strategic marketing plan to launch the business, identify possible market segments, and develop a strategic marketing plan that will satisfy the interests and needs of your identified target market/s.

Use your skills in secondary marketing research to analyze and interpret the background information on the industry and company that you gathered for your Environmental and Consumer Behaviour Analysis. Also, consider some primary research such as speaking with potential target customers to understand their needs and buying behaviors.”

Are you kidding me?! I KNOW! I have been dreaming about this! It’s surreal that something like this would fall into my lap. Next I’ll tell you a bit about what I learned from these bright students. 


Meet Your Fate! A Personal Update

I was in Los Angeles California for 44 days and 10 of those I was on this epic road trip. If you remember, my main goal was to learn something new about food trucks. My goal was to get onto a food truck and see first hand how to operate one. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to work on any. It isn’t all bad! I got to do some pretty sweet things. I got to eat at a lot delicious food. I met Food Network Stars from the Great Food Truck Race. I even got to the chat with the owner of Kogi (Ranked #1 in top 101 food trucks).

My original plan was to stay here till December 12th collecting as much data as I can but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I will be coming home sooner. It would have been even sooner if I had not decided to join my best friend and cousin in Vancouver. 

As I write this blog I am back on Canadian soil, everything now feels familiar. I'm use to the colour of the money, the people look similar and the cold has welcomed me back. The great thing about Vancouver is that it isn’t a huge city, I can walk the entire downtown in  couple of hours (i think?). This is where all the food trucks and food carts are located. If you know a thing or two about food trucks, you know Vancouver has a pretty decent food truck scene. On top of that it’s also fairly new.

These next blog post will be stories about my time in Vancouver. Your going to see how I manage to create another food truck network! 


Dont Run Out Of Gas When On A Road Trip! [PART 2]

We punched in the nearest gas station into the GPS and we found that it was 80 miles away! We started to panic! On a highway, in the middle of the desert that had no gas stations. Luckily there was a Rest Stop only 15 miles away.

Stopping at a rest area at 4 AM is exactly what you think. No one is around, and the people who are in the Rest Stop are sleeping. We went up to this one trucker and asked him if he had any gas. He told us that all the trucks run diesel and there’s no point of asking the truck since it would not be able to help. 

Luckily there was one Asian fellow who just woke up to take a pee break. We rushed over and we asked him if he had any spare gas to lend us. He was very helpful that he started to call his insurance agency to see if he could send somebody out (to the desert) to fill up his (our) gas tank. He was on the phone for quite a while and we were about to give up. Fed up with how long it was taking, we got back in our car and decided that we were just going to risk it. As we were about to leave, he was nice enough to offer to drive behind us. If we ran out before the gas station, he offered to bring gas back to us! What a deal! Couldn’t believe how helpful some people can be! It must have been our Asian connection (lol). 

As I started to drive to the gas station,  I was surprised by the amount of downhill there was! I barely had to hit the gas pedal. 40 minutes later and with the help of gravity, we were able to get to the gas station without our good samaritans help. I then went on to fill the most expensive gas of life! 

There you have it, that’s my first story about my ten-day adventure and that was only the first five hours! Much more to come! 


Dont Run Out Of Gas When On A Road Trip!

IM BACK! I want to tell you a little bit about my 10 day road trip.

The day was 11:00 pm October 30th and my best friend from Toronto had just arrived. There was a problem we did not have a place to stay due to some unforeseen circumstances. On the bright side I just rented a car so we didn’t have to sleep on the streets. As we headed to McDonald’s to use their wifi, we wondered where we were going to do for the next 10 days…

We started brainstorming ideas of what we wanted to see on our next 10 days. I was pretty clueless until my friend mentioned “You want to go to the Grand Canyon?” I look back at him I was “HELL YEAH!” I closed my laptop and jumped right into that car.  The arrival time was going to be nine hours (we would get there at 9:00 AM). Since my friend just got off the plane from a five hour flight I took the first leg of the trip. I started driving east and 4 hours in something happened! My friend woke up to me notifying him that we were almost out of gas. We only had 1 bar left…


How To Decide Which Food Truck To Study

Two very famous food trucks were on location at Venice tonight. Kogi and and The Grilled Cheese truck. If you ever watched Eat Street or typed ‘food truck’ into Youtube, you’ll know what I am talking about. You can tell that their brand and style is very different amongst the rest of the food trucks. As a result you notice how long their lines are. They’re slammed the entire night with customers. Line’s are up to 30 people or more at some points. 

Lets get to the fun part! The Research! The food truck I did my research on today was Kogi BBQ. I chose Kogi because they have a really huge twitter following, a shit load of videos on Youtube, and oh yeah they revolutionized food trucks here in Los Angeles. They were the first food truck ever to put Korean flavors in Mexican cuisine.

As I joined the line it started right in front of the drivers window. The truck itself was very simple, it was white and only had the name located 4 places around the food truck. The food trucks here are very different from the ones back home, they are much bigger and consist of a roofing system that allows greater air flow. I found there was a tap for hot water, tea and coffee near the ordering window. Being at the front of the food truck I could see everything that was going on inside. I jumped onto a ledge to get a better view, my main objective was to see what kind of assembly line they had going on. I took out my camera snapped a couple photos and took a short video for my note book. The things I took notice on the food truck were….

Wait for tomorrow ;)


Enroute To Stuffing My Face In Venice

October 5th 2012. I’m chilling on my computer doing nothing, nothing at all. I get a message from one of my roommates. They tell me at Venice Beach there will be a big street party consisting of a lot of food trucks. Once I heard ‘food truck’ I immediately looked online I saw that 2 food trucks were going to be there. If you described “A lot” I would think at least 5 or more. But two?! what a fail of a description but whatever 2 food trucks are better than no food trucks!

When my ride came to get me, I jumped in the car and headed over to Venice Beach. The event was held on a side street off Venice Blvd. Turning into the side street I saw what can be described as “A lot” of food trucks. The description was 100% correct. I kept on going “WOW” Every vehicle parked on the street was a food truck. There was even a parking lot full of at least 10 food trucks. I guess this is where the big shots parked, because all the names I recognized from Youtube or prior articles. The entire space wasn’t as big as you would think. It is much smaller than Nathan Phillips Square, and had three times as many food trucks. I could image if they had a lot size similar to Toronto’s Evergreen brickworks, it would be a food truck convention. I was even shocked that they had ATM’s out in the parking lot for people who didn’t bring cash. I took out a hundo and they charged me $3.77, robbery I tell you!