The rise of gourmet food trucks and the changing nature of authenticity

The second event in our Stigma, Organisations, Authenticity, and Reputation (SOAR) seminar series, hosted by the Centre for Corporate Reputation

Daphne Demetry, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Organisation, McGill University, and Todd Schifeling, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management, Temple University were the guest speakers for a seminar hosted by Tom Lawrence, Professor of Strategic Management, and Rohini Jalan, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, as part of the SOAR seminar series.

Originating in Los Angeles in 2008, gourmet food trucks represented a new kind of organisation that differed from earlier street vending by serving distinctive and upscale products that required skill and expertise to produce and using Twitter to connect with customers across a region. Rather than conform to the gritty expectations for street vendors, gourmet food trucks developed value through claims to a new kind of authenticity that valorised innovation and the blurring of traditional categorical expectations. 

In this talk, Daphne and Todd had a conversation over their mixed-methods research on gourmet food trucks. They discussed how they used their unique Twitter data set to track how gourmet food trucks initially emerged through an uneven pattern across the United States and how interviews with truck entrepreneurs revealed the important role of local communities in this emergence. They also discussed some of their new research on the impact of gourmet food trucks on the greater culinary landscape, and in particular how the trucks have helped shift audience tastes towards appreciating and desiring a new hybridised form of cuisine (i.e., fusion).