Interview With Ai-Ling Truong, Food Truck Rumble Organiser 2015

At The City Lane we love the fact that there’s so much happening in food scenes all over Australia. We don’t just restrict ourselves to the big players and are always happy to shine a light on the grass roots stuff that’s happening no matter where it may be. We might be Melbourne based but our interest, and we think yours too, spreads far beyond this city.

One relevant example of this grass roots kind of movement that’s happening in cities all over the country is that of the Food Truck Rumble. Perth food blogger Ai-Ling Truong (aka Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse) organised Perth’s first major gathering of food trucks in 2014. It was a huge success and Food Truck Rumble returns to Perth in 2015 bigger and better than last year. We think that Food Truck Rumble is a great event on Perth’s food and drink calendar and took some time to speak to Truong about the event.

ai-ling truong food truck rumble perth

What was the inspiration behind Food Truck Rumble?

What inspired me to organise Food Truck Rumble is a love of food and an interest in events. Having attended a lot of food festivals, I wanted to create a food festival that had a clear local focus, was different and genuine – something that I would want to go to.

I’m a food blogger who has been involved in the organising committees for various events such as TEDxPerth and the Beaufort Street Festival. In 2012 I provided some administrative support to the Perth Food Van Initiative which was just starting up at the time. I was also the Chair of the fourth national Eat Drink Blog (“EDB”) conference which was held in Perth in 2013. For EDB we organized a pop-up dinner with a bunch of food stalls and trucks to show the best of Perth’s street food scene to bloggers from all over Australia.

Being involved with all of this, I’ve eaten at and come to know quite a few food trucks operators in Perth. The idea of a food truck festival had been brewing since 2013, especially within the Perth Food Van community, so I decided to take on the challenge and make it happen.

In 2014 I pulled together the inaugural Food Truck Rumble on my own over about 10 weeks, working with the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (venue sponsor) and liaising with the Perth community of food trucks to create an event that showcased and celebrated the local food truck scene. The inaugural Food Truck Rumble on Sunday 13 April 2014 at the Perth Cultural Centre was a huge success. The expected attendance was 5,000 and we ended up being visited by over 10,000 people!

What are some of the challenges you have faced in organising such an event in Perth?

Despite being part of a committee organising events, when I started Food Truck Rumble I didn’t have much of an idea of what was involved in organising a whole event and all its different facets. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I often tell people I’m giving myself a crash course in events management by just doing one, so everyday can present new challenges that I have to work out how to resolve. I’m on a huge learning curve.

The biggest challenge that I personally face is that there is an immense amount of work involved in organising an event and I’m doing this on my own at the moment while working full-time 4 days a week. I organise Food Truck Rumble in my free time, working on rumblings early in the mornings before work, staying up late and on my weekends. The event has doubled in size since last year and as it grows I have to work out how to manage it so I don’t go insane!

Another challenge faced in organising an event are the government approvals and requirements, which I have come to appreciate as an important part of the risk management. It’s a lot of paperwork and a constant waiting game which can be a little frustrating when you just want to be able to move things forward but everyone I have liaised with in government has been generally supportive of Food Truck Rumble which has been great.

The other main challenge is finding the funding to cover the costs of running a free public event. The success of the inaugural event meant that I was able to source additional government funding this year to make Food Truck Rumble v2.0 a bigger and better event. If I want to keep growing and make Food Truck Rumble sustainable in the long run, I know that I can’t rely on continual government funding so I need to think about and explore corporate sponsorship. A future challenge will be figuring out how to engage sponsors/partners in a way that will allow me to maintain the independence and integrity of Food Truck Rumble.

ai-ling truong food truck rumble perth

Last year’s Food Truck Rumble was a huge success – what do you think were the biggest contributing factors to this?

There is a lot of public interest in food trucks, they are popular and have widespread appeal, and I think the timing of the inaugural Food Truck Rumble last year was right. The food truck scene in Perth was just starting to really blossom and growing to a point where there were actually enough trucks to make a food truck festival happen.

Food Truck Rumble is an event that I register for Eat Drink Perth, which is Perth’s biggest annual food and beverage festival that runs for about 4 weeks during March/April. Now in its 11th year, there are 140 participating ticketed and free events across the CBD, Northbridge, East Perth and West Perth. Having Food Truck Rumble as a part of Eat Drink Perth means that it’s marketed by the City of Perth along with all the other events, and this year it’s great to be featured as one of the main events in the program.

I don’t have a much of a marketing budget so I have focused on using social media to spread the word about the event. Social media has played an important role in the dynamic global trend of food trucks and it’s one of the main factors that has contributed to the current resurgence of food trucks. Social media is heavily used to attract customers and build a following through interactions, communication of locations and what’s on the menu. Food Truck Rumble aligns with how food trucks communicate and primarily uses social media to promote and build the community’s interest and support for the event.

What can people expect from Food Truck Rumble this year?

Last year’s inaugural Food Truck Rumble featured 16 food trucks, a pop-up bar, swing dancing performances, carnival amusement rides and a cupcake eating competition. My friend told me that what I do isn’t just to organise a food truck festival, but something much more.

This year I am continuing to grow Food Truck Rumble to make it a bigger and better event. It will feature 30 food trucks, a pop-up bar and a break dancing competition. I’m excited about presenting street food and street dance at this year’s Rumble – two scenes that have emerged from the streets. In the evening of the Rumble, there will also be the Hipflask Beats Lounge featuring some awesome hip hop beats from local Perth producers.

Do you have any future food events in the works?

I’m interested in using what I have learnt from organising Food Truck Rumble to do other food related things. What that might be? I don’t know yet…. I don’t have any time to think about anything else at the moment but Rumble.

What is the biggest change you’ve noticed in Perth’s food scene over the past 12 months?

Street food. It is being embraced all over with the establishment of street food markets outside of the City and in suburbs like Maylands, Mount Hawthorn, Guildford, Inglewood and Victoria Park as a way to revitalise public spaces and bring communities together. More councils are also starting to conduct food truck trials in their local area – for example South Perth and Bayswater. The City of Perth started a food truck trial earlier this year too.

I have been keeping on top of what’s happening in the Perth food truck scene and currently have a list of 70 mobile food vendors (including trucks, trailers, vans and carts). There really has been a huge growth in the local food truck industry over the past year. The initial plan for last year’s Food Truck Rumble was to just have 10-12 trucks but it ended up with 16 and I discovered new trucks while I was planning it. Now I have a larger number of trucks to choose from to participate and I have curated 30 of the best for Food Truck Rumble v2.0.

ai-ling truong food truck rumble perth

Food Truck Rumble

When: Sunday 12 April 2015, 11:00am to 8:00pm

Entry: Free

Where: Perth Cultural Centre, Perth



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