A reality TV star has given up his food truck dreams, but he plans to stay in Houston. Masterchef season four winner Luca Manfé announced on Saturday that New Year’s Eve marked the last night of service for his food truck, The Lucky Fig.
Manfé says he encountered a number of difficulties during the year he operated the truck, including that the vehicle itself broke down seven times in its first six months as well as the challenges posed by Houston’s hot and stormy climate. Even finding a permanent home at the Deacon Baldy’s bar and food truck park in Magnolia didn’t rectify the situation.
When Manfé’s four investors asked him to buy them out, he opted to shutter. The chef tells CultureMap that he still believes in his farm-to-table Italian cuisine, but that perhaps a food truck isn’t the right way to serve it to people.
“I am trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. We only have 5 stars reviews, but yet hamburgers, tacos, fried chicken, sometimes even corn dogs trucks have way more business than us,” Manfé writes in an email. “Is it that people don’t care for gourmet food from a food truck? Is it that people that go to eat at a food truck don't have the same knowledge of food as usually food trucks are much cheaper than restaurants? I will probably never know.”
Manfé isn’t quite ready to announce his next move. In the short term, he plans to continue catering as well as his “Dinner with Luca” private chef events. Although he moved from New York City to open The Lucky Fig, the chef says the food truck’s failure doesn’t mean he’s leaving.
“I plan to stay in Houston,” he writes. “I think there is a lot of opportunities in Houston.”
Hopefully, those opportunities include a brick-and-mortar restaurant. According to Manfé, The Lucky Fig served 7,000 people and catered 26 events in its first year, but his signature dishes, including meatballs, rigatoni with bolognese sauce, and sandwiches on freshly baked ciabatta bread, deserve a wider audience.