Best of SA 2012 Critic Pick
Food-industry heroes: Cameron Davies and Matthew Marshall of Cruising Kitchens
Published: April 25, 2012
14732 Bulverde, (210) 402-2829
Countless food shows featuring celebrity chefs have cast a bright light on the "back of the house," the kitchens that create the artful delicacies that drive restaurant success. In today's food-truck craze the kitchen has moved up front, becoming both mobile production unit and source of entertainment, where cooks deftly prepare dishes mere feet away from hungry diners. Building food trucks is an art in itself, and increasingly new operators across the country look to owner Cameron Davies and shop manager Matthew Marshall of Cruising Kitchens in north SA to provide them with the best. The shop is tucked behind Boardwalk on Bulverde; also owned by Davies, it was until recently the only food truck park in SA. It's since been joined by Southtown's Alamo Street Eat~Bar, but beginning May 1 both privately owned parks will face competition from City of SA locations such as HemisFair Park, one of four spots authorized by the City Council in mid-April to host a pilot food-truck program.
But regardless of which park you frequent, you'll likely run across a truck there created by Cruising Kitchens. Opened less than two years ago, the group now averages three to four rigs a month — about 50 builds a year. The care and quality they put into their work has attracted buyers from the West Coast to New York City and lit the interest of television producers in Los Angeles, who are now filming the pilot of a national reality series featuring Cruising Kitchens' group of fabricators. When the Current visited the shop recently, six trucks were in process, including a new pizza truck (a 19-foot-long monster), while another eight waited outdoors for a spot in line. Before going into the food-truck biz, Davies operated 210 Customs, specializing in high-end car builds. Though his elite clientele included professional athletes and others with money to burn, Davies prefers his new outfit. "These are more of a challenge, its not like doing custom cars with fancy paint jobs; you have to figure out power loads and other tech to put a commercial kitchen into a step van," he said.
Davies doesn't consider the new food truck parks competition for Bulverde, either, but instead opportunities for new chefs to get into the business … as well as likely new clients for Cruising Kitchens. But it isn't just what they're doing off Bulverde Road but how they're doing it that impresses both Davies and Marshall. "I work with all my best friends and family here, we're all in it together," Davies said. "Building a truck in three weeks, its balls to the wall, but everyone knows their job, and they nail it. If you love what you do, you won't work a day in your life."