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Food Trucks

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Food Trucks

Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels
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With food-truck fever sweeping the nation, intrepid journalist Heather Shouse launched a coast-to-coast exploration of street food. In Food Trucks, she gives readers a page-by-page compass for finding...
With food-truck fever sweeping the nation, intrepid journalist Heather Shouse launched a coast-to-coast exploration of street food. In Food Trucks, she gives readers a page-by-page compass for finding...
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Description-
  • With food-truck fever sweeping the nation, intrepid journalist Heather Shouse launched a coast-to-coast exploration of street food. In Food Trucks, she gives readers a page-by-page compass for finding the best movable feasts in America.

    From decades-old pushcarts manned by tradition-towing immigrants to massive, gleaming mobile kitchens run by culinary prodigies, she identifies more than 100 chowhound pit-stops that are the very best of the best. Serving up everything from slow-smoked barbecue ribs to escargot puffs, with virtually every corner of the globe represented in brilliant detail for authentic eats, Food Trucks presents portable and affordable detour-worthy dishes and puts to rest the notion that memorable meals can only be experienced in lofty towers of haute cuisine.

    The secrets behind the vibrant flavors found in Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, Hungarian paprikash, lacy French crepes, and global mash-ups like Mex-Korean kimchi quesadillas are delivered via more than 45 recipes, contributed by the truck chefs themselves. Behind-the-scenes profiles paint a deeper portrait of the talent behind the trend, offering insight into just what spawned the current mobile-food concept and just what kind of cook chooses the taco-truck life over the traditional brick-and-mortar restauranteur route. Vivid photography delivers tantalizing vignettes of street food life, as it ebbs and flows with the changing demographics from city to city.

    Organized geographically, Food Trucks doubles as a road trip must-have, a travel companion for discovering memorable meals on minimal budgets and a snapshot of a culinary craze just waiting to be devoured.



    From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpts-
  • Introduction

    Forget everything you think you know about food trucks. During a year of traveling the country researching the topic, I stumbled upon a few truths: gleaming mobile kitchens run by trained chefs who have mastered Twitter can turn out disastrous food. Rickety carts with questionable permits might just turn out some of the best. The "roach coach" moniker doesn't apply to the majority of this country's mobile food operations any more than it does to the majority of this country's restaurants (well, save for the "coach" part, of course). And no, Kogi did not invent the food truck. But they just might have reinvented its wheels.

    At least they got the world to sit up and take notice. The L.A.-based Korean taco truck was repeatedly cited as a source of inspiration by food truck owners I spoke to during my travels, and in the time since Kogi rolled out in late 2008, the buzz around food trucks has reached fever pitch. Favoring quirk over pomp, talented cooks and critically acclaimed chefs are ditching the brick-and-mortar standard for kitchens on wheels, churning out incredible food for a new breed of diners more interested in flavor than fuss. Just in time for the biggest recession this country has seen since the Depression, this alternative to the traditional restaurant model proved to be a pretty smart business move for many talented cooks. What with rent or mortgage, tables and chairs, décor, front-of-the-house staff, a stocked bar, and additional labor, the average restaurant costs around $400,000 just to get the doors open. Most of the food truck owners I met across the country spent a fraction of that, more in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $50,000 to get up and running. Sure, there's the disparity in profits to consider, but for the most part these truck chefs are still making a decent living, while reaping the benefits of being their own boss and creating the biggest buzz the industry has seen since the advent of quick-serves.

    In fact, the interest in food trucks has become so widespread that in September of 2010 Business.gov, the U.S. government's official website for small businesses, added a page titled "Tips for Starting Your Own Street Food Business," with links to state departments of health, zoning laws, and business permits. Navigating the red tape is often cited as the biggest hurdle for wanna-be food truck operators, so many of whom are itching to get into the game that several cities are being forced to reexamine their mobile food vending laws to satisfy the growing demand. Cities such as Los Angeles, where food trucks have long been legal, have seen mobile food vendor applications quadruple in the past two years, along with complaints from restaurants facing new competition. In response, city council panels have been set up specifically to keep the peace, setting limits on the number of permits issued and establishing new regulations on a continual basis. In areas where street food vending has historically been something of a nonissue, the city governments are scrambling to come up with regulations, as well as decide exactly where they stand on the issue. Case in point, Boston mayor Thomas Menino: to get his city up to speed with his neighbors to the south, New York and Philly, he hired a new food policy director in 2010 and launched a "Food Truck Challenge" to test the waters, with a goal of permitting thirty to fifty trucks by summer of 2011. Similarly, in June of 2010, Cincinnati approved a Mobile Food & Beverage Truck Vending Pilot Program to create twenty designated food truck parking spots in the downtown area; within a month all twenty slots were filled.

    Keeping up with the regulation changes, the cities jumping on board with...

About the Author-
  • HEATHER SHOUSE is the senior food and drink correspondent for Time Out Chicago, as well as the Chicago reporter for Food & Wine magazine. Shouse has contributed numerous articles to CHOW, Rachael Ray, Men's Journal, Playboy.com, and Draft magazine. She has edited and coauthored multiple editions of Time Out Chicago Eating & Drinking Guide and contributed to the Native's Guide to Chicago. While her position as a local authority on Chicago's drinking and dining scene has offered numerous opportunities to direct appetites toward notable spots in every corner of the Windy City, this is her first book to truly combine her passion for travel and eating, the two things that make life worth living. Learn more www.heatherjshouse.com.

Reviews-
  • Final Word, USA Today, 5/24/11

    "A fun romp -- a guide to 'the kitchens on wheels' that serve up meals on urban street corners."

  • Publishers Weekly, Starred Review, 3/21/11 "In this excellent cookbook on roving foods, Shouse, the food and drink editor for Time Out Chicago, interviews 50 proprietors of various taco carts, ice cream trucks, crepe trailers, and kebob-mobiles across 18 major U.S. cities (cooking in a truck is still illegal in the Windy City). Along the way, she creates a fascinating landscape of cultural diversity--folks from all walks of life who have dedicated themselves to cranking out quick, cheap, nomadic snacks. In New York, there is the classically trained bassoonist who has become a local hero with his Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. In Seattle, a woman who is part Korean and part Hawaiian teams with a Chinese-Filipino to serve up Spam sliders. And in New Orleans, a Katrina victim who attended culinary schools in London and Sydney makes brisket in a refrigerator that has been turned into a giant smoker. Along the way, Shouse provides recipes for crowd favorites like the buttermilk fried chicken found in Oahu, and a Sloppy Jose in Miami. Some ingredients, it turns out, travel more intriguingly than others. Bacon, for instance, shows up as a mac & cheese garnish in New Hampshire, arrives as a doughnut topping in Austin, Tex., and beds down in an ice cream sandwich in Manhattan. (Apr.)"
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Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels
Heather Shouse
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Heather Shouse
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