The food truck Instagram photo with the palm trees was taken of Coolhaus in VIP at Coachella 2012.
The food truck Instagram photo with the palm trees was taken of Coolhaus in VIP at Coachella 2012. (null)

Many a rock star have been born - and reborn - at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. But even as the music grows each year, fans are realizing there is more to consume at the desert event.

"Coachella is all about the idea of having a special, cultural unique experience. And the coolest part is that it doesn't stop at your ears," said commercial property owner and Coachella fan Dan Mellinkoff. "Coachella is like an incubator for a lot of different, new talent "" including food. "

Coolhaus made its debut as Los Angeles' premier custom ice cream sandwich business on wheels at Coachella in 2009.

"Just the sheer volume of people and level of exposure was insane," said Coolhaus CEO Natasha Case. "How else do you access nearly 100,000 people at one time? "

Case said the caliber of the audience at Coachella is always mind-blowing and perfect for up-and-coming Los Angeles food brands looking to link itself to celebrities.


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For instance, Coolhaus took advantage of its VIP access in 2009 as a rookie to the food scene to win over rock stars and fans alike by creating Coachella exclusive sandwiches such as the Santigold, strawberry ice cream with edible gold flakes; the Gary Clark Jr., a whiskey and Lucky Charms ice cream; and Scooplove, a chocolate chip and salted caramel ice cream sandwich custom-made for the band, Grouplove.

Coolhaus' Coachella presence even snagged the ice cream sandwich maker a premiere spot for its next new brick-and-mortar shop in Old Town Pasadena that expects to bolster its presence in the L.A. market along with its Culver City location.

"I was kind of just blown away by the quality of the ice cream, the cookies and the vibe," Mellinkoff said of his first taste at Coachella 2012.

Now Coolhaus expects to open at 59 East Colorado Blvd. by the end of Spring with Mellinkoff as its landlord.

Indie rock duo Tegan & Sara eat Coolhuas ice cream sandwiches with Coolhaus Austin general manager Caitlin Close at Austin City Limits last year.
Indie rock duo Tegan & Sara eat Coolhuas ice cream sandwiches with Coolhaus Austin general manager Caitlin Close at Austin City Limits last year. (null)

Coolhaus' road to success by way of Coachella is just one example of how the music festival scene has spurred an evolution in concert food.

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, a high-end restaurant chain with several locations throughout Southern California, is slated to provide Coachella fest carnivores with hearty eats while the Oprah-approved Green Truck is expected to offer vegan options.

Border Grill will also provide foodies the opportunity to enjoy eats created by celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" and Food Network's "Too Hot Tamales," while Pink's Famous Hot Dogs will be on hand to provide a classic taste of L.A.

There will be a total of 60 food vendors at the festival, Goldenvoice officials said.

"Concert food vendors don't look for Yelp reviews, but we do. So vendors like us really try to bring cuisine that is tried and true in L.A. to these kind of music events to really raise the bar," Case said, adding that Coolhaus has participated in Coachella each year and has even traveled as far as New York for Brooklyn's Northside Festival and to Texas for South By Southwest and Austin City Limits.

"And then when people come to L.A., whether they're coming home or they're coming to visit, they can find that same quality food they remember at Coachella."

Plenty of Coachella-goers have turned into loyal patrons of Kogi, the Los Angeles-based gourmet Korean barbecue food truck spearheaded by award-winning chef Roy Choi. A customer's first taste of Kogi at Coachella can even prove beneficial for its owners' other L.A. eateries Chego, A-Frame and Sunny Spot, said Alice Shin, Kogi's creative director.

Despite the sometimes grueling 40-mph crawl from Los Angeles to the polo fields in Indio, where temperatures reach the 100-teens, Shin said the partnership with Coachella has been a great, fun investment.

"We've always been willing to dig deep and connect with our customers," Shin said, "so if they're going to enjoy Swedish House Mafia, we want them to do it with us, too. "