Food truck showdown finds Waco

Lariat File Photo
Lariat File Photo

March 28
Fourth Street and Austin Avenue
10 – 11 a.m. — celebrity judging
11 a.m. – 3 p.m. — competition and public judging; signature dishes only
3:30 p.m. — winner announced
5 p.m. — trucks open with full menus for dinner
7 p.m. — free “The Little Rascals” screening
$3 per food truck for public judging


By Allie Matherne

Where can you find a Mexican pulled pork slider, Korean fusion and wood fired pizzas? Waco. Yes, Waco.

The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, along with title sponsor Legacy Land and Ranches, will host the Texas Food Truck Showdown March 28 in downtown Waco.

The food trucks will participate in a celebrity-judging portion from 10 to 11 a.m. and a public judging portion from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. During these times they will only serve their signature dish. Winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. After 5 p.m., each truck’s full menu will be made available.

The event will include live music, mobile boutiques and a free showing of “The Little Rascals.”

“This may sound weird, but sometimes we see potential gigs that look thrown together, but they did such a good job on the promotions, and that really signaled to me that it was going to be a big event,” said Chris Trapani, owner of Urban Cowboy food truck. “They clearly put a lot thought into it.”

Thirty-five trucks from across Texas have entered the event. Trucks will drive in from the Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas areas.

Because Waco is small on the food truck radar compared to other cities, event coordinators had to outsource. This created an opportunity for Waco to bring something unique to the food truck circuit, said Ashley Futris, Waco Chamber director of sports and special events.

“This is going to be one of the first, if not the first, to have food trucks coming from all over the state,” Futris said.

Projections are merely speculation because this is the first time the Texas Food Truck Showdown is being held, but the event’s coordinators are expecting anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 people, Futris said. The trucks are marketing all over the state for themselves, which will likely draw more than just a Waco crowd.

“Big picture, I think the food truck thing is relatively new in Waco and will give them a chance to get to know the food truck community,” Futris said. “It’s also a chance for all t h o s e trucks from other cities to bring more attention to downtown.”

With 35 food trucks gathering, it is bound to spark the competitive side of participating food truck owners.

“I can’t decide on our signature dish. We’ve done a lot of competitions, and I always freak out right before,” Trapani said.

It is important to consider a dish that can be produced in a mass quantity without sacrificing the quality of the dish, Tarpani said. He said he is considering incorporating the pickled vegetables, which are made in-house at Urban Cowboy, and the candied bacon that is typically sold on a stick into the truck’s signature dish for the competition.

Eddie Windwillow said he is new to the food truck circuit, but is looking to leave a mark. He formerly worked as an executive chef in Los Angeles, where he came up with an idea to shake up the market. He created a beer doughnut BLT that won people’s choice at a food competition in Los Angeles. He decided to quit his job and move to Austin, he said.

“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done. I dropped everything to move out to Austin where I think the food truck mecca is,” Windwillow said. “I went all out and invented a whole doughnut sandwich menu.”

His food truck opened two months ago, and he is hoping the showdown will help him gain traction, Windwillow said.

This will hopefully turn into an annual event, Futris said.

“I think [people are] just going to have an experience that we haven’t really had in Waco — there hasn’t been an event,” Futris said. “I’m excited to bring something new to the community that hasn’t been done before.”