Three of Kansas City’s best-loved food trucks redefine street food and delight customers.
Story by Georgia Thompson
From once-humble beginnings as simple hot dog stands perched on crowded street corners to the now-modern restaurants on wheels that have earned themselves a permanent (and respectable) place in the cuisine of cities nationwide, food trucks have undergone a tasty transformation.
With the food truck craze well-established in places such as New York, Los Angeles and Austin, it wasn’t long before Kansas City jumped on the chuck wagon. Though only a trend born within past five years, the hundreds of food truck vendors currently present in Kansas City are turning the tables on traditional, restaurant-style dining by hitting the streets and serving up everything from barbeque to tacos and ice cream to deep-fried, well, anything. Though their menus might vary, the desire to provide an unconventional eating experience reigns true for three of the city’s popular food truck owners, each who succeed in bringing innovative (and yummy) dishes to KC’s hungry streets and private events.
The Funnel Cake Truck: Michael Bradbury
Ditching the carnival venues for which its name is synonymous, Michael Bradbury’s Funnel Cake Truck puts a fresh spin on this fair favorite and combines it with his grandmother’s recipes. Not only does Bradbury delight customers in serving up delectable treats such as deep fried Snickers bars, Oreos, and Twinkies; cotton candy; flavored popcorn; novelty ice cream; and of course, the truck’s signature funnel cake, but he also has made a significant mark in establishing the food truck scene in Kansas City.
Bradbury created the Kansas City Food Truck Association, and in doing so, has worked with several local municipalities over the past five years to help change and guide them in adjusting the rules for KC’s food truck operations. When Bradbury isn’t serving up carnival goodies from the comfort of your own private event, you might just spot him on the new Food Network show “Cake Wars,” where teams of cake bakers compete in constructing massive cake masterpieces in hopes of being chosen to present them at a large celebrity event.
“The experience was amazing and eye opening about how other small businesses operate around the country,” Bradbury says of his time on “Cake Wars.” “I hope to use some of the knowledge I gained to better the food truck scene in Kansas City.”
Must-try dish: Deep Fried PB&J
Wilma’s: Brett Atkinson
When all else fails, follow your dreams and start a food truck. This seems to be the tried-and-true motto of Wilma’s truck chef-owner Brett Atkinson. When the market crashed in 2008 and Atkinson found himself without the job and life he once had, he decided there was no better time to take a leap and bring his sketches for a food truck to life. When Wilma’s first began, Atkinson was dissatisfied with the view most people had toward mobile restaurants.
“Nobody really had the concept of what a food truck can be,” Atkinson says. “Everyone was still stuck on the stereotype of food trucks as worker food, when in reality there are some extremely talented chefs cranking out really, really good food, just out of a trailer or a truck.”
Though Wilma’s is named for his mother, Atkinson admits he and his mother claim polar opposite cooking styles, with Atkinson serving up notably innovative dishes, such as Pork Belly Beignets (a combination of pork, Dr. Pepper and a molasses doughnut with a maple-pecan glaze), Redneck Rolls (a sushi roll with Spam and Velveeta along with a spicy hibachi sauce) or the Fried Baloney Sandwich (seared bologna with cucumber aioli, provolone, and onion rings), just to name a few. Coloring outside the lines and focusing on creativity is what Wilma’s aims to do, says Atkinson, by constantly adding out-of-the-ordinary items to their menu.
Must-try dish: The Rednexican Taco (shredded frogs legs with ancho mayo, caramelized onions and chipotle cream)
Prairie Fire Oven: David White
The term “pizza party” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to digging into one of David White’s savory pies from Prairie Fire Oven at your next private event. Following in his grandfather and father’s footsteps, White decided after 17 years of owning his own head hunting firm that he wanted back into cooking without the confines of a restaurant.
Pizza, White says, allows him the perfect opportunity to source locally for ingredients from area farmers’ markets and growers, an important factor for what makes Prairie Fire Oven unique from other KC food trucks. Between the Whiskey Pig, the Sas-squash, the Beetza, or the Classic Peppy, everyone and anyone is sure find a slice of pure heaven that meets their tastes. With an open-air, wood-fired pizza oven residing on White’s trailer, only one of about 80 of its kind serving up pies throughout the country, this food truck also allows White to indulge another one of his loves—fire.
“We truly are dinner and a show,” White says. “With other food trucks, you often can’t see what’s happening inside the truck, but here we have no secrets.”
Whether it’s White’s creative and fresh ingredients or the over 800-degree oven conveniently parked in your own driveway, Prairie Fire Oven pizza will leave your taste buds tingling for more.
Must-try dish: The Hatch and The Peach Tree pizzas (Here just for the summer!)