Courtesy of Ingrid Hoffman
Since Hoffmann of Simply Delicioso fame is known for her Latina-style cooking, her food truck has a decidedly ethnic flair to it. The hot-pink-and-black customized truck serves up gourmet tacos (pulled pork, chicken mole and chicken tomatillo) and a signature burger with a chorizo and sirloin filling. This marquee patty also features Oaxaca cheese, caramelized onions, jalapenos and red-pepper mayo. "It's street food," she acknowledges, "but it's quality street food. We use Latin influences in a modern way." All of the ingredients used on board the renovated UPS truck are fresh and never canned.
The impetus for Latin Burger came out of Hoffmann's desire to never open a restaurant again. (In the '90s, she had an eatery in Coconut Grove called Rocca.) However, the fiery toque was turning down numerous offers to run her own place. The solution: to roll out a food truck, where she could feed Miamians cheaply and provide jobs for aspiring student-chefs. "I was frustrated that I didn't have a place to put the students from Johnson & Wales," she notes. "And, due to the economy, experienced line cooks in Miami were losing their jobs and their homes."
The overnight success of Latin Burger means that Ingrid is back in the hospitality business, albeit on a more manageable scale. It's also an opportunity for her to test-market her burgeoning food empire, which currently includes cookbooks and cookware. Latin Burger's customers are able to give feedback on condiments like Guachup (homemade guava ketchup) and Avocadolicious sauce (which is made with Chilean Haas avocados). She's also previewing an organic, MSG-free adobo seasoning, which is sprinkled on the fries.
Prices are inexpensive (everything is under $7) and healthful types can order the chicken tomatillo taco with a spelt tortilla for a low-fat meal. Six days a week, Latin Burger trolls all over Miami, stopping near crowded offices and car washes. (Fans can follow Latin Burger's whereabouts via Twitter and Facebook.) They've even been hired to cater weddings and often appear outside Bardot, a popular Miami nightclub, to hawk late-night munchies. More impressively, Ingrid's truck was the site of a culinary throwdown during the recent South Beach Wine & Food Festival, where Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto cooked in her mobile unit for a fundraiser for Haiti.
"Food trucks are here to stay," Ingrid emphasizes. "With the economy, many businesses are going mobile, including hardware stores. There's a lower overhead and you are able to move to the masses. It's a great thing if you do it properly." Next up for Hoffmann? Two more cookbooks, her spice and condiment line and more TV appearances. Oh, and she's flirting with the idea of adding a veggie burger to Latin Burger.