The concept of a “food truck” is simple yet revolutionary for the food scene. Indeed, a spot of indulgence lies on the corner of College and Bancroft: every weekday, masses of students and faculty members gather around the food trucks at this crossroads. Spoon had a chat with Ann Vu, more affectionately known as “Mama,” owner of the popular food truck, Heavenly Foods.

As Mama always says, “Honey, you’re going to like this!”

On how she started in the food business

Ann Vu: As a child, I hated kitchen chores; I would constantly make excuses to not help my mom out in the kitchen. But the move to America from Vietnam made me realize how much I loved the simplicity and deliciousness of Vietnamese food. So I decided to make it! My mom was shocked! She visited me a couple years ago and loved my food!

On how she started in food trucks

AV: I had a spot in the Bear Lair’s Food Court by ASUC before rent became too expensive, so I studied hairdressing and opened my own salon. But I missed Berkeley too much. I had become so familiar with the students and the faculty. I was really excited when the Berkeley City Council decided to introduce food trucks. And I came back–I came home. With less cost this time!

On why she loves food trucking

AV: It is so much cheaper! No rent! Plus we have a smaller menu compared to when we had a shop [in the Bear Lair’s Food Court].

On expansion

AV: I started out handling this by myself. I have two employees now, but I doubt I will expand much more because I prefer to be very hands-on.


Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

On her typical day

AV: I wake up at 5:30 am to start prepping, and my staff comes to work at 7 am. My husband drives the truck from the parking lot to our spot every morning before he goes to work. I sell food from 10 am to 6 pm.

On her favorite item on the menu

AV: Ooh, everything is so good! But I like beef, so I’ll choose the Mongolian tri-tip. I also often take the catfish home for dinner.

On her favorite time of day

AV: Dinner! I always get a bit of the items we didn’t sell and make dinner for my husband and myself. Mama loves her dinner!

Note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.