Martin describes his desk setup at his previous job for a financial company, where he worked for eight years: “I had two toaster ovens and two waffle makers. I was living out of my cubicle, and people knew I loved to cook. My co-workers always told me I should do something with food.”
In today's installment, our self-proclaimed “dark Cantonese” chef carries on about his superhero-level, parallel parking skills. If someone is willing to fund it, we're contemplating a Food Truck Olympics to show who reigns supreme.
Read our interview with Martin Tse of Dogzilla, Part One.
And now, on to Part Two. . . .
When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
I'm eating. I'm probably the skinniest fat guy you'll ever know.
Greatest challenge about running a food truck:
Finding the right people that fit the culture and believe in our mission and our values.
Last song playing on your radio:
Brick and Mortar's “Move to the Ocean.”
Where did you grow up?
Oakland. I came [to OC] for school, but stayed for the weather.
Hardest lesson you've learned:
You can't trust everyone, and put it down on paper.
What did you do prior to running the food truck, and what prompted the decision to own one?
First, we just had a pop-up tent at various events, but we wanted to do the OC Foodie Fest, so we decided to get a food truck.
What's your favorite childhood memory?
Cooking with my mom. I got to cut everything. In the beginning, it was like, “I gotta hurry up and do this because I wanna go out and play.” I used to prep as fast as I could. After a while, I wanted to know how she made things. I watched, learned, analyzed and just kind of absorbed everything.
We used to make mochi from scratch. It was crazy. We'd get these huge wooden mallets and a little marble bowl. They would throw the rice in there, and we would smash it. I remember the first time I did it I had blisters all over my hand. It was gnarly.
Where's the strangest place you've ever parked? Have you ever hit a street lamp?
How are your parking skills?
Is a golf course strange? No, I never hit a street lamp. I defy all stereotypes of Asian drivers because my driving — and, subsequently, my parallel-parking skills — are phenomenal. I can thank the Bay Area for that.
I remember the first time we were at Proof Bar. They made us parallel park. It was easy.
Are you superstitious?
Hell, yeah! No white lighters on the truck, ever! We have such a bad white lighter history. The first time someone brought a white lighter onto the truck, the truck didn't work. The second time it happened, we got a flat.
What were you up to five years ago?
I was working and attending the fire academy.
Last movie watched; how was it?
Argo — excellent movie!
Last thing you looked up online:
Turkey fryers in OC. We use them for boiling our hotdogs. My mom always boiled them.
Do you have any skills that are non-food-related?
Certified EMT, Excel, Macros.
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I'd probably be a firefighter. The thing I used to be most excited about was cooking in the firehouse.
I went to UC Irvine and graduated with a degree in international studies and a minor in management. I had a food résumé and a finance one. The first one that took was a finance job. [He also went to a Japanese church as a little kid because that was the only way he got to play basketball.]
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.