The Hippo


May 25, 2020








New Hampshire Food Truck Festival

When: Sunday, Oct. 4, with a VIP hour from 11 a.m. to noon, general admission from noon to 5 p.m. 
Where: Redhook Brewery, 1 Redhook Way, Portsmouth
Tickets: $5 general admission, $20 for VIP admission, free for those under 12

Truckin’ to the coast
Food trucks converge for second NH festival

By Allie Ginwala

 Whether you’re a millennial foodie looking to eat and share with your Instagram followers or a local who’s always wanted to check out some of Boston’s food trucks, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Redhook Brewery, host of the New Hampshire Food Truck Festival, on Sunday, Oct. 4.

Janet Prensky, spokesperson for Food Truck Festivals of America, the organization producing the New Hampshire Food Truck Festival, said she and her business partner held their first festival in 2011 before food trucks became trendy.
“[We] were charged on behalf of a client to come up with a new idea [for] an event,” Prensky said in a phone interview. “So we searched and searched and found eight food trucks in New England.”
They expected 1,000 people; 4,000 showed up, and they realized they were on to something. Now drawing from a list of 500 food trucks, Food Truck Festivals of America brings around 20 trucks to different communities — particularly those that don’t have a vibrant food truck culture yet — to give people the chance to try a variety of cuisines. 
Returning for the second time to Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth, Prensky said the idea to hold a festival in New Hampshire stemmed from the food scene that’s already present in the state.
“There is a food culture in New Hampshire, and Portsmouth we already felt had a hotbed for understanding of great food and a true foodie’s culture,” she said. “Our goal is to be in every New England state and we wanted to make sure New Hampshire was on our list.”
Due to the overwhelming response during last year’s festival, this year’s event will have 10 additional trucks, bumping the number to about 25. 
“We were packed last year, and we have increased the number of trucks ... to make sure that everybody has a great time, gets to eat and doesn’t stand on line for too long,” Prensky said.
Food trucks making the trip to Portsmouth include New Hampshire-based Clyde’s Cupcakes, Gabi’s Smoke Shack, Northeast Pie Company and Munchiez Food Truck at SNHU along with out-of-staters like Cookie Monstah, Jamaica Mi Hungry, Meanie Panini and The Pasta Pot.
“We try to honor the local community we’re in [so] if it’s a New Hampshire festival and we have four trucks from New Hampshire, they are going to be in for sure,” Prensky said.
After that, the idea is to divvy it up so there aren’t many repeats (think a mix of seafood, barbecue, burgers and tacos) plus a marquee Boston food truck that’s widely known, like Roxy’s Grilled Cheese.
Anthony Martino, owner of Gabi’s Smoke Shack, loves the atmosphere of a food truck festival because the focus is all on the food. He’ll return to Portsmouth after partaking in last year’s festival.
“Unlike if you go to the Deerfield Fair or Rochester Fair or even Topsfield, there’s no carnival rides — people come there for the food,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s just one of those things where they come to eat.”
When it comes to planning his menu for the New Hampshire Food Truck Festival, Martino said he tries to come up with foods that are fairly portable, like the pulled pork tacos that were popular last year. 
“For $8 people get two tacos … it makes it easy for people to share because it’s a soft tortilla type taco, more like fair food, [good for] walking around and eating,” he said.
Other items that may make it onto the menu are beef brisket chili, Frito pie (Fritos corn chips with chili and cheese), Texas hot links (spicy beef sausage) and smoked chicken wings.
Another aspect Martino appreciates about food truck festivals is the chance to interact with other owners and come up with new dish ideas — though he and his five-person staff don’t have much down time, as he estimated they were serving 75 people an hour last year.
“People should come hungry and be willing to try things that [are] a little bit out of the ordinary,” he said. “Hopefully [people] will come and check it out and be willing to try different things maybe outside their comfort zone.”
To get the most out of the day, Prensky recommends purchasing small items from multiple trucks in order to sample all sorts of food. Each truck was asked to prepare a truncated menu with small, medium and large items ranging from $2 up to perhaps $10.
“And that way you can go from truck to truck and experience the festival without getting too full,” she said. 
Guests can bring blankets and chairs to make it a picnic on the grounds of Redhook Brewery. Redhook will have beer available at stations throughout the festival. Other activities include live music and face-painting for the kids.  

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