The already bustling community of food tucks is about to receive a new member. And this member is aiming to please the little kid in all of us by serving all things tater, including tater tot nachos, bacon-wrapped tater tots, and something called Mama's Tater Tot Hot Dish. As he readies his truck for an early May opening, the Hot Dish sat down with the owner of Tot Boss, Daniel Docken, to discuss among other things, his transition to the food world and the art of tot making.
|Tater Tots are now mobile. But will they become sentient? |
1. What inspired you to start a food truck? Do you have a restaurant background?
I've worked as a cabinet maker for about 27 years. In the last 10 years I've really developed a great passion for cooking, and I really enjoy making great food for people to enjoy. I've never worked in the food industry before, but I will put my love for eating food up against the best of them. About five years ago I started catering parties and events for friends and family. I thought it would be great to open up a pizza shop, cafe, or something like that. With the craze for food trucks on the rise, though, I thought I'd have greater success with a mobile location than a brick-and-mortar restaurant. I'm going to keep working as a cabinetmaker and run the Tot Boss food truck mostly evenings and weekends. I'll also park downtown St. Paul for lunch once or twice a week. I'm always open to new ideas for evenings and weekends, so please let me know if you have any.
2. Why tots?
I love tater tots! How can you not? I'd been making new things with tater tots for my friends and family, but it all goes back to my mom making tots with our lunches and dinners. She made the best tater tot hot dish.
3. Have you sought out advice from any other food truck owners? What have they shared with you?
I've not really talked with other Twin Cities food truck operators, but I've definitely bought from them often. I've connected with some owner-operators through Linked In and learned what others are doing in the way of social media and iPad apps for managing the business, and things like that. My biggest help and mentor has been Mark Palm from Chameleon Cart Concessions. He's building my truck and has been a huge help with guiding me and answering my questions. I know he's done a lot of the trucks in the Twin Cities and has been a great mentor to others as well. I can't give him enough props.
4. Any guesses as to what your most popular product will be?
Bacon-wrapped tater tots with cheddar cheese dipping sauce. But you never know. I think everything on the menu is awesome.
5. Where and from whom did you learn the art of tot making?
My mom. My wife makes a mean tater tot hot dish herself though.