Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Korean Food Truck Adventures Chapter 8: The Reveal: Ajumama

Hallo, my name in Indigo Montoya..

Wait, that isn’t right..

I guess I should have given away Girl Scout cookies, because only one person took a stab at my questions and they didn’t get a single one right! Oh well, at least I know that next time Thin Mints are the way to your hearts.

That said, I should probably finally introduce myself to you dear readers as you have been so patient over the last few months.

Hi, my name is Laura, I live in Columbus Ohio and I am the chef/owner of Ajumama- a Korean street food truck that will be hitting the fair roads of my beloved Midwest city in late April. We aren’t going the taco route, we have PLENTY of taco trucks here in Columbus, in fact, there was a mention on Serious Eats about them.

That said, the last thing we need here is another thing wrapped in a corn tortilla. What we don’t have is a lot of kimbop, dukkboki, or hoedukk. We have some wonderful Korean restaurants that do awesome kalbi and the like but nowhere can you get that true Insadong feel of biting into a too hot hoedukk. The little mom and pop places where you can sit down and have a crisp paejeon or a warm bowl of juk on a rainy day don’t exist here in the heart of the U.S. and I want to change that.

And before you wonder if I’ve lost my mind to go full Korean in a place where most people outside of the state think we stare at cows all day, check this out: Hopefully you will see why I said that Columbus was ready for the Seoul street experience.

Ajumama has been my dream in one form or another for the last three years and it is finally about to come true. Its first incarnation was a stall at the historic North Market here in Columbus, the birthplace of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. The name came from all of my mom’s friends telling me they would help me, a collection of ajummas that spawned the Kor-nglish word Ajumama.

The dream went on hold as I tried to work my way up the culinary food chain to get the seed money needed. I even took a job as a sous chef in San Diego as way to hopefully get more saved so that someday I would be able to open something of my own. What I found while I was gone was Columbus is an amazing food town; light years ahead of many places and I should have never left. Our food truck and cart scene started grow with the help of an organization called ECDI and their food specific arm, Food Fort. Knowing they were actively working to grow small businesses and particularly food trucks and carts was the push I needed to move back and do this today instead of someday.

I have had an amazing group of people who have been with me on this journey so far, but Daniel and O’ngo have been a huge part and I can’t thank them enough. I only wish he could be here for the grand opening but I guess I will just have to catch him the next time he is stateside. (And now I know I can bribe him with TastyKakes!)

I’ll have some pictures later with the truck all complete, the last couple weeks have flown by as I went back and forth with the wrap installers and my graphic designer to get everything just right. This next week will bring the actual inspection from the health department as well as finally getting all those permits I couldn’t get before now. Equipment and food purchasing trips are in the future and then finally a few dry runs as we also try to build up our par stock of kimchi to be ready for our first real day.

So now you know, this won’t be the last time you hear from me but if you want to start following me on Twitter we are @ajumamacbus and on Facebook as well. Check out the menu at and feel free to comment.

Oh, and the answers to the other two questions? I’ve been working part time in a yarn shop (I knit!) and my cats are Pungae and Chun Dong (Lightning and Thunder). I keep saying we need to get a third one and name it Bi (Rain) so we can have the full storm front.

Chef Laura

Twitter: @AjumamaCbus