A Day in the Life of a Food Truck

A Day in the Life of a Food Truck

By Catherine Wagner / Photography By Aaron Snow | August 25, 2015
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The Hall's Pizza Kitchen

It’s no surprise to any reader that food trucks have taken over Oklahoma City— one truck in particular has been part of this scene for over two years. Introducing The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen.

Named for the Hall family who owns and operates the business, their by-the-slice pizza has fans lining up for a taste of these wood-fired delicacies. On a very warm Saturday, Edible OKC wanted a chance to see what it’s like to work on a food truck for the day, and we were welcomed onboard by mom Lori and daughters Molly and Elise Hall.

This family operation gets their day started early. Really early. Because inside this very compact space is an actual wood-burning pizza oven. That’s right, wood-burning—as in split logs of pecan wood inside an 800˚ oven, inside a tiny stainless steel truck. And that oven needs hours to get good and hot. Why so long? You know that deliciously crunchy, perfectly browned, black-in-some-spots pizza bottom? The kind with just the right amount of dough bubbles on top, which is the way to any trained pizza lover’s heart? This crust is only accomplished after the oven that cooks it has hours of pre-heating to ensure that its floor gets extremely hot; thus, the very first thing that happens on this truck every morning is lighting the fire.

As the fire is burning and heating up, the truck is scrubbed top to bottom to ensure it is ready for food prep. Outside is the hum of morning traffic and hubbub, but inside the truck, the focus is on one thing: prepping for the day’s pizza.

“We all [the family members] do different things, everyone has their job,” said Lori Hall. Those jobs include stoking the fire, rolling out dough, prepping the front of the truck, setting up their social media for the day, and monitoring finances. With each family member having assigned tasks, one very specific task belongs to Lori: just before opening the doors, she says to Molly and Elise with certainty, “You ready?” The day’s food service can now commence.

People have been waiting by the truck, ready for pizza, since 10:30 A.M.—thirty minutes before The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen is scheduled to open, but hours after the Hall family’s day began. They push the logs to the back of the oven to clear room for the prepared pies, put on their aprons, turn the music up and prepare for their customers.

The majority of the food prep, like chopping vegetables, cooking meat, making sauces, etc., is done off-site. Once in the truck, it’s time to assemble the pizzas and throw them in the oven. Sounds simple enough, right? This food truck crasher and novice pizza maker thought so too, and I could not have been more wrong.

After watching a few pizzas being made, I got my hands dirty assembling their most popular pizza, the Saturday Night. This pizza starts with their heavily guarded secret recipe dough and their unique, uncooked tomato sauce. I added whole milk mozzarella, sausage, enough pepperonis for at least two pizzas and freshly torn basil. The whole thing was topped with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil plus their secret spice blend. There, that wasn’t too hard…until it was time to actually cook the pizza.

Once you’re in front of that hot oven, all bets are off. It’s emphatically hotter than expected and the pizza has to be placed into it and continually rotated to cook evenly, all while keeping the long handle out of everyone else’s way, keeping in mind the space inside the truck is so small. The Halls make it look really easy, relaxing even, but after I nearly lost my pizza to the flames in the back, the pizza peel was passed back to the pros to finish it off.

The customers approached in a steady stream, ordering single slices and even picking up entire pizzas to take home. The overall crowd favorite was the Saturday Night (even the one this greenhorn made was sold), but customers ordered everything from delicious Caprese-style salads with homemade pesto to desserts.

It was like a well-choreographed dance watching orders being placed and fulfilled, while pizzas are simultaneously being assembled and cooked, all in really tight quarters. But as Molly puts it: “We’re always learning and adjusting.”

Maybe it is the alluring wood burning smell coming from the smokestack that has people flocking to their truck, but I think it’s simpler than that: their pizza is just that good. There are three signature pizzas served every day, plus an always-rotating feature, like the Beat The Heat Pizza with smoked chicken, cream cheese, fire roasted jalapenos, bacon and Sriracha. Whatever the reason, Hall’s Pizza is a treat to the taste buds and an experience I was elated to encounter from the inside.

After they have made and sold the last slice it’s time to end their service for the day. The fire is slowly beginning to die down, flour is scraped from the board and the dishes are washed. As Lori, Molly, and Elise also begin to cool off I ask what they’ll do next. Their answer was simple: clean it up and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

When my day was complete, I left smelling similar to a campfire, covered in flour and with a belly full of delicious pizza. I also had a better understanding of how things work inside that cramped space and even a little insight into how some of the best pizza in town is made. Making pizza at home is not going to be the same, but with the Halls’ homemade pesto recipe, you can get a little bit closer. This pesto is the sauce used on their vegetarian pizza, The Matt, and their salad The Katy.

For more information about Hall’s Pizza or to see where you can find their truck, visit their website at thehallskitchen.com

Article from Edible OKC at http://edibleoklahomacity.ediblecommunities.com/eat/day-life-food-truck
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