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Press: Serious Eats - Street Food Profiles

Serious Eats

Street Food Profiles:
Sam's ChowderMobile in San Francisco

Posted by Leah Douglas
July 19, 2010

"To our knowledge, it's the only gourmet seafood truck
on the West Coast—possibly in the nation."

Sam's ChowderMobile at Golden Gate Park

The ChowderMobile on the move. [Photographs: Sam's ChowderMobile]

Name:Sam's ChowderMobile
Vendors: Paul Shenkman, Juan Hurtado, Lewis Rossman


Delicious fried calamari, prepared fresh on the truck.

What's on the menu? New England clam chowder, fish tacos, fried calamari, pulled pork sandwiches, lobster rolls, salad specials, Old Bay fries.

Location and hours? All over the Bay Area, lunch routes daily as posted to Twitter and our website. Typically on the peninsula, South San Francisco, San Jose, etc.

How long have you been street fooding? Over a year.

How has Twitter affected business? It's great. It's how we tell our customers where we will be on a daily basis.

Lobster Roll

Mmm, lobster roll.

Why a mobile business over brick-and-mortar? We have both. Mobile is a great way to bring great food concepts to where customers gather (their home, business, or even the beach). Our brick-and-mortar restaurant has outdoor, oceanfront dining, so it's a great destination for people who want great seafood with an ocean view, and the feeling of "getting away" to the coast.

Who are your typical customers? Lots of high-tech and bio-tech companies. Special venues like Golden Gate Park, Domenico Winery, Fogarty Winery, Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend, Hiller Aviation Event, AT&T Park, 3Com Park (all the 49ers home games this season), etc.

Describe a typical day from start to finish. Load up the ChowderMobile first thing in the morning with fresh seafood and other required ingredients. Head to the day's lunch route by 11 a.m. to set-up and serve from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.. Often then head to a private event, like a Lobster Clambake at a private venue, or a business who is doing an "on-site" event. Head back to Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay to unload and prepare the truck for the following day.

Fish taco
I want you, fish taco.

We have an on-board double fryer for the fish and chips, fish tacos, and fries

What were you doing before this? We have been operating Sam's Chowder House restaurant since October of 2006.

What makes your food so special? Can anything else like it be found in the city? To our knowledge, it's the only gourmet seafood truck on the West Coast—possibly in the nation. Our seafood is incredibly fresh. We have an on-board double fryer for the fish and chips, fish tacos, and fries (separate fryer from the fish), which is unique to food trucks.

How would you define "street food"? Anything that is delivered in a mobile fashion—with an on-board kitchen and wheels!

They know how to please the masses.

The best street food city and why. San Francisco, of course! We have great street eats, but it's also the wonderful ambiance of the city by the Bay. And of course, great service from interesting people.

Your comfort food after a long day? Fish and chips, lobster rolls, or spaghetti and meatballs.

Advice for an aspiring vendor? Know your target audience and make sure you are clear on your market niche. Anything is possible with a good plan and a lot of hard work!