Jason Perkins of EAT! Mobile Dining

How did you start your business?
I have always had a passion for food and cooking. This led me to culinary school after getting a degree in philosophy from Xavier University. After seven years in the flavor industry [working for a company that made natural and artificial flavors], I realized I wanted to serve real food to real people.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
I have done catering on the side for a very long time and when I looked at renting commercial kitchen space, I realized I could put together a food truck for about the same price.

A lot of things that go into a food truck are filling a niche. Everyone’s used to a taco truck and everyone’s used to a burger truck. There’s no need to double up yet. I prefer to cook more upscale, bistro-style cuisine. To put a menu together, I tried to find stuff that would cook fairly quickly. People understand when they look at the menu that it’s going to take a second, but nothing I make takes more than 3, 4 or 5 minutes, tops.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Family and friends helped me go through a lot of trial and error. I started with 60 or 70 menu items and then whittled it down. I also had some help with capital and financing to get started.

What inspires you?
Good food -- which can be a greasy spoon diner -- food that’s prepared well, prepared to order and uses ingredients you’d expect. I went to a Mexican joint, ordered – I don’t eat meat – and my meal wasn’t on the vegetarian menu. When it came out, it was cooked in lard. In my opinion, that’s still good food because it was cooked properly -- in a good Mexican place the food is cooked in lard. While I didn’t eat it, I wasn’t upset.

What’s next for you and your company?
Preparing food for the folks downtown and building a regular client base. Primarily, the food truck market as I see it is 18 to 46-year-old people who have mobility and are going out and doing things during the day, but want something nicer than a burger and fries.  I have high standards for myself, my staff and my food, and I already have some folks that are very regular customers.