Carlos Leyva Martinez inside the El Mas Chingon food truck.
Carlos Leyva Martinez inside the El Mas Chingon food truck.

El Mas Chingon lives up to its name, beating the global pandemic

The world changed as we knew it during the global pandemic, a year of loss, confusion, and lots of panic, but in the face of adversity Carlos Leyva Martinez left his job at a restaurant to create a new business that he had always envisioned since his early days as a talented chef.

El Mas Chingon outside of Flashpoint Brewing Company in Huntington Beach, CA.
El Mas Chingon outside of Flashpoint Brewing Company in Huntington Beach, CA.

Introducing: El Mas Chingon food truck.

“I wanted something with controversy, something that would incite excitement, and also set a standard that people would know they’re getting the best,” Martinez said. “El Mas Chingon translates in Spanish to the baddest motherfucker, the number one guy.”

Confidence is used as the key ingredient to this food truck’s success. There was never a doubt in the product inside El Mas Chingon truck, after more than a decade as a head chef, Martinez came to the realization that he wanted to be his own boss.

‘I had been working as head chef at a restaurant for 11 years. One day I realized I would only be working for somebody else and I was just an employee,” he said, “I wanted to work for something bigger, better, and something that was my own. That’s where my idea for a food truck came.”

El Mas Chingon food truck, now, as the painting depicts the name in giant red letters on one side of the yellow truck, was once just a blank yellow truck without a name when Martinez bought it from a previous owner fully stocked with all the equipment necessary for operating a food truck.

“Getting customers, man. That is the most difficult,” Martinez said. “When you first open, people don’t know you. The first three or four months we didn’t have any wrap around the truck, no name, they don’t know if we sell food or something else.”

The difficulties of operating a food truck come from the outside, the biggest hurdle of all, is how and where to find paying customers, and keeping a positive mindset through the tough days that are inevitable, specifically, during a global pandemic.

El Mas Chingon opened officially on January 26, 2021.

“Honestly, when we opened we had really bad days,” Martinez said. “The first two months we’d come back to the commissary probably with $60. Sometimes I was planning to quit but we started getting into breweries, started getting events, people liked our menu, and then people started recommending the truck and that’s how we kept going.”

Word spread quickly about El Mas Chingon. The demand for food trucks became especially important during the pandemic. New laws required breweries and other establishments to serve food to continue operating as a business.

El Mas Chingon was helping itself and other businesses stay afloat, and helping families in need all at the same time.

“We were also going to apartments because people didn’t want to go outside, they were scared,and they also didn’t want to spend money at restaurants. They would pay probably $70 or $80 but at food trucks you could pay $30 or $35 for a full family,” Martinez said.

Martinez didn’t become the chef that he is overnight, obviously, it was a grind that started many years ago.

“I came here from Mexico in 2005 and my first job here was at a Japanese restaurant. I saw how the line cooks were making the food, using all the recipes, and so I wanted to be a chef,” Martinez said. ”I started by washing dishes, then prep, then became a line cook, and after that became a chef.”

The menu at El Mas Chingon speaks volumes. If you’re in the mood for tacos or burritos, they’ve got them. If you’re craving a cheeseburger, they’ve got you covered. They even have the LA style hot dog on their menu along with fish and chips. El Mas Chingon has you covered on all fronts.

“We first started in Orange County only,” Martinez said. “But now we do events in LA, San Diego, Palm Springs, basically, where the customer is paying, we’re going.”

El Mas Chingon started as a vision, a blank yellow truck, and with the confidence of a talented chef inside not even a global pandemic was going to stop Martinez in his tracks. And there’s still more left to do.

“Obviously, for me, the goal, we’re talking two or three months, we’re planning to open an office and start catering everywhere,” Martinez said. “That’s the goal, to open an office, and start catering for weddings, birthdays, and big parties.”


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About the Contributor
Michael Cody Stephenson, Staff Writer
Michael Cody Stephenson is a staff writer for Talon Marks covering sports, Arts & Entertainment, Life, and opinion. Michael enjoys traveling, attending sporting events, listening to podcasts, hiking, and spending time with friends and family. He hopes to transfer to a four-year university in the Fall and one day pursue a career in the sports industry.
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