8/29 Food Truck Party

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There are few things we love more than a bunch of awesome food trucks congregating downtown in an area with abundant parking, seating, and that is BYOB (not to be enjoyed by the same who are driving, obvi- be safe peeps).

Tonight, that’s happening and we’re going! Want to join? Here’s the deets!

When: Thursday 8/29 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Where: The Garage 116 N Aberdeen St. Chicago, Il 60607

Who? (Note: Almost all of these guys have cooking licenses! Except Chicago Cupcakes & Gladwell, because, well, they make cupcakes and frozen treats).

The Salsa Truck
The Fat Shallot
Husky Hog BBQ
Jerk 312
Beaver’s Coffee & Donuts
Chicago Cupcakes
The Gladwell Company (frozen treats)

Bonus Detail: Charity Involvement

The organizer, Salsa Truck owner Dan Salls says: “We will all be working in support of the Greater Chicago Food Depository to help fight hunger in our great city. To learn more, visit: http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/

Come out and enjoy!

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Friday Food Truck Party: 2nd Annual Techweek Food Truck Faceoff

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Got plans tonight (after you’ve heeded the words of Mayor Emanuel and considered today your Ferris Buehler’s Day off, hopefully sans a sidekick in a Red Wings jersey)? Head over to the Merchandise Mart to catch some food truck festivities!
What: Second Annual Techweek Food Truck Face Off

As if you needed another reason to attend, look at this uber talented and studly lineup of judges. (Not sure which, if any of them are single, but....*cue Single Ladies*)

As if you needed another reason to attend, look at this uber talented and studly lineup of judges. (Not sure which, if any of them are single, but….*cue Single Ladies*)

When: Friday, June 28, 6 PM – 9 PM
Where: South Drive of the Merchandise Mart overlooking the Chicago River
Who: Techies, Foodies and Food Truck Chefs – judges even include former Mr. Meatyball himself, Phil Foss
Admission is free and open to the public! Trucks will be offering $2, so bring plenty o’ singles.

Published food truck lineup:

TechWeek Food Truck Faceoff LineUp

We would like to sign off this blog post with the closing line from the e-mail from the TechWeeks peeps…quite possibly our favorite e-mail signoff of all times: “Experience
first-hand the food truck phenomenon…nom…nom…nom…”

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Chicago Judge Advances Food Truck Lawsuit

This is definitely just a first step to the bigger goal, but it is a major victory for food trucks since they will get their day in court. FINALLY.
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AND THE CROWD GOES WILD FOR JUDGE PETER FLYNN! Today, the lawsuit filed against the City of Chicago by the Institute of Justice was brought in front of the judge. The lawsuit claims that the 200ft buffer that food trucks must put between themselves and any existing

“restaurant” (steakhouse to gas station) and mandatory GPS requirements are unconstitutional. The judge heard IJ’s argument as well as the city’s; his honesty and reason provided a much-needed dose of honesty and reason on the legislative side of things.

Here’s a summary of what he said, according to DNA Info and the live tweets we’ve gathered from Kristin Casper, co-owner of Schnitzel King, one of the food trucks represented in the lawsuit:

1) 200 Foot Ban: “Judge Peter Flynn said the effect of the city’s ordinance, which forbids food trucks from setting up shop within 200 feet of an established restaurant, appeared to be to ‘exclude food trucks from the entire Loop and then some…Flynn took issue with the ordinance’s definition of a restaurant to include convenience stores like 7-Eleven.’” “Judge says the purpose and regulation doesn’t match up re: 200 ft rule”-@kristinrcasper

2) GPS Requirements: The judge isn’t “comfortable” with this part of the city’s ordinance. He wanted to know “how the city proposes to protect against misuse of the data.” The judge asked “Does the city have the right to put GPS on all cars & monitor?”

The Sun Times reports “…requiring food truck operators to install GPS systems so the city and the public can monitor their whereabouts — violates the vendors’ rights ‘to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.’”

3) Next Steps There will be a status on September 10, but the actual court hearing is TBD.

For the first time perhaps ever, there is a glimmer of hope on the legislative horizon for food trucks in Chicago all because a reasonable judge. ”This is a big win, make no mistake about it,” said Bert Gall, an attorney for theInstitute for Justice, also nicknamed the Patron Saint to Food Trucks. “We get a chance to show this was protectionist legislation….The city was trying to cut this case off at the knees, and it failed.”



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4 Delicious Food Truck Recipes

Orange Dream Cupcakes
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You know how we know summer is nearing? We get multiple e-mails a week from new food trucks! And MAN do they make us giddy for the months ahead. We will tell you more about them next week (hint: one truck’s concept is they sell all things in patty form)!

That also means that The Taste is near. Despite all the stupid politics around food trucks, we of course will be there to support our trucks! A group of us food truck freaks can visit the trucks and nosh together. Join us at 4:30pm on Thursday July 11; the music portion (Estelle and Robin Thicke) take the stage at 5:30. Comment below or tweet @foodtruckfreak if you plan to join!

For now, we want to share with you some great recipes the folks from Eat St. sent us to share in honor of their 4th season airing and new cookbook sittin’ pretty on shelves.

(BTW Eat St. airs on Mondays at 11:00pm and 11:30pm ET on Food Network Canada and on Tuesdays at 8:00pm ET on Cooking Channel. If you want a gazillion-ish more food truck recipes, you can get the full book Eat St.: Recipes from the Tastiest, Messiest, and Most Irresistible Food Trucks by James Cunningham at bookstores or online).


Kung Pao Chicken from The Rice Box, Houston

Nacho Grande Poutine from Smoke’s Poutinerie, Toronto

Malaysian Lime-Chili Tofu Grilled Burritos from Roaming Dragon, Vancouver

Orange Cream Dream Cupcakes from The Yum Yum Cupcake Truck in Orlando

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Orange Cream Dream Cupcakes Food Truck Recipe from The Yum Yum Cupcake Truck in Orlando

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We know how food truck freaks love cupcakes. So, here’s a summer-inspired recipe we think you’ll enjoy!

Orange Dream Cupcakes

Orange Dream Cupcakes

These recipes were provided by Eat St. If you like them, check out the full cookbook.

If you ask Orlando’s Alex Marin and Joey Conicella what the single most important  ingredient is in their cupcakes, they will answer without hesitation: “Love!” Their cute little cakes are an uncomplicated throwback to the days when Grandma would whip up something simply delicious. These are called Orange Cream Dreams because that’s what you will be thinking about in your sleep!


Cupcakes – Makes 12

¼ cup (60 mL) butter, softened

1 cup (250 mL) sugar

1 egg

1 tsp (5 mL) orange food color (optional)

1 tsp (5 mL) pure orange extract

¼ tsp (1 mL) pure vanilla extract

½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder

¼ tsp (1 mL) baking soda

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

1⅓ cups (325 mL) all-purpose flour

1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk



½ cup (125 mL) butter, at room temperature

1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup (250 mL) marshmallow fluff

1 ¼ tsp (6 mL) pure vanilla extract



5 tbsp (75 mL) butter

1 ½ tsp (7 mL) pure orange extract

3 cups (750 mL) icing sugar

½ cup (125 mL) whipping cream

¼ tsp (1 mL) orange food color (optional)


For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beating continuously, add egg, food color (if using), orange extract, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low speed, alternately stir in flour and milk, in three additions. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners.


Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack before removing cupcakes from pan.


For the filling, using an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy. With mixer on low speed, add icing sugar and salt; mix well. Beat in marshmallow fluff and vanilla. Transfer filling to a pastry bag. Using a ¼-inch (5 mm) round tip, insert the tip a little more than halfway into a cupcake. While pushing the filling into the cupcake, pull the tip out of the cupcake.


For the frosting, using an electric mixer, cream butter until smooth. Beat in orange extract. With mixer on low speed, gradually add icing sugar. Scrape sides of bowl as needed. Add cream and orange food color (if using); beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes.

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Malaysian Lime-Chili Tofu Grilled Burritos Food Truck Recipe from Roaming Dragon in Vancouver

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When most people (not necessarily food truck freaks) think of food trucks, they usually think of tacos and burritos. But not just any tacos and burritos- ridiculously awesome, mouthwatering, crack-like ones. We haven’t made this burrito recipe yet, but this definitely looks like a winner.

These recipes were provided by Eat St. If you like them, check out the full cookbook. 

“Roaming Dragon in Vancouver was one of the first trucks we featured on Eat St. Many, many trucks and chefs later, it is still one of the best, and you’re going to understand why with this recipe. I still remember the first time I tried Don Letendre’s incredible fusion cuisine. I knew instantly that this truck was going to be a huge hit. The six basic items on the menu contain over four hundred ingredients and combine the best old-world Asian techniques with a new-world Grumman ’67 truck.

“These burritos may sound intimidating, but you can do it. It just takes a little Zen-like patience . . . and some shredded sui choy cabbage.”


Pickled Red Cabbage

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup (250 mL) thinly shredded red cabbage

½ cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar

¼ cup (60 mL) cider or malt vinegar


Malaysian Peanut Sauce

1 cup (250 mL) garlic cloves

1 cup (250 mL) chopped galangal

15 kaffir lime leaves

½ cup (125 mL) vegetable oil

5 cups (1.25 L) skinless roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

2 cups (500 mL) shaved palm sugar

2 cups (500 mL) kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), plus extra for drizzling

¼ cup (60 mL) sambal badjak


Carrot Salad

3 tbsp (45 mL) rice vinegar

1 tbsp (15 mL) mirin

2 tbsp (30 mL) sugar

2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame oil

1 large carrot, shaved into long


¼ cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced

2 to 3 tbsp (30 to 45 mL) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

½ cup (125 mL) unsalted peanut halves


Burritos – Serves 6

3 tbsp (45 mL) canola oil

1 lb (450 g) firm tofu, cut in ½- × 1-inch pieces

3 cups (750 mL) shredded sui choy

(napa) cabbage

¾ cup (175 mL) shredded red cabbage

6 large flour tortillas

½lb (225 g) spinach leaves

¾ cup (175 mL) julienned carrots (about 2 medium carrots)


Make the pickled red cabbage a day or so ahead. In a large nonreactive bowl, combine onion, cabbage, sugar, and vinegar; stir to combine. Cover and chill for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. (Pickled cabbage keeps, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.)


For the peanut sauce, in a blender combine garlic, galangal, lime leaves, and ¼ cup (60 mL) of the oil. Process until very finely chopped. Heat remaining ¼ cup (60 mL) oil in a large, deep skillet over very low heat. Add garlic mixture; cook gently, stirring frequently, until garlic is cooked but not coloring. Add peanuts, palm sugar, kecap manis, and sambal badjak; stir well. Add enough water to cover peanut mixture. Cook, stirring constantly (peanuts burn easily), until sauce thickens, about 45 minutes. Let cool.


For the carrot salad, in a small bowl, combine vinegar, mirin, sugar, and sesame oil; whisk until sugar is dissolved. In a medium bowl, combine carrot ribbons, cucumber, cilantro, and peanuts. Toss with vinaigrette to taste. Set aside.


For the burritos, in a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the oil over medium-high heat. Fry tofu until golden and crispy on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Wipe out skillet.


Divide sui choy cabbage and red cabbage among flour tortillas. Top each serving with ¾ cup (175 mL) peanut sauce. Arrange tofu over sauce; top with pickled red cabbage, spinach, and julienned carrots. Fold in bottom and top, then fold in sides.


Heat remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook burritos, starting seam side down, until golden brown on both sides. Cut each burrito in half on the diagonal with a serrated knife. Drizzle with kecap manis. Serve with carrot salad.


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Nacho Grande Poutine Food Truck Recipe from Smoke’s Poutinerie in Toronto

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Ah, poutine. We hardly know ye, but we love ye. This trendy dish pops up on menus in Chicago, but not as often as we would like. It’s one of those dishes that has endless possibilites and beg for our talented chefs to put their own spin on. This recipe, for example, is a mashup between nachos and poutine. It’s got the salsa and guac of nachos using the potato and gravy base of poutine. We’re not sure what we think about the gravy and salse mixing, but we won’t knock it ’til we try it!

These recipes were provided by Eat St. If you like them, check out the full cookbook.

Poutine is a proud Canadian dish that combines all the heart-stopping power of melted cheese curds and gravy with the healthy benefits of a plate of deep-fried potatoes.

But even the deep-fried lovin’ city of Toronto is not enough to contain the poutine army that Smoke is building. With a few restaurant locations already operational and a fleet of trucks planned across Canada and in the U.S., it won’t be long before Smoke is at a street corner near you. To say these guys are passionate about poutine would be an understatement. They care so much that they oversee several fields in P.E.I. where they grow their own brand of “Smoke’s potatoes”!


4 cups (1 L) chicken-based gravy

1⅓ cups (325 mL) chili

31/2 lb (1.5 kg) Yukon Gold potatoes

Canola oil for deep-frying


1⅓ cups (325 mL) cheese curds, at room temperature

1⅓ cups (325 mL) tomato salsa

1 cup (250 mL) guacamole

1 cup (250 mL) sour cream

4 fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers, sliced


Heat gravy and chili separately until hot; keep warm.


Cut unpeeled potatoes into ½-inch (1 cm) sticks. Soak in cold water for at least 5 minutes.


In a deep-fryer or deep, heavy saucepan, heat 3 inches (8 cm) of canola oil to 300°F (150°C). Drain potatoes and pat dry. Fry for 4 ½ minutes, being careful not to brown potatoes. Drain on paper towels. Heat oil to 350°F (180°C). Fry potatoes until crispy and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl lined with paper towels; season lightly with salt. Remove paper towels; gently toss potatoes.


Mound fries in serving dishes. Spread curds over fries. Pour hot gravy over curds. Mound chili over gravy; top with salsa. Spoon guacamole on the side. Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream (or use a squeeze bottle) and jalapeno slices.

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Kung Pao Chicken – The Rice Box Food Truck Recipe

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Kung Pao chicken is our go-to when ordering delivery Chinese food. This, however, does not look like your typical takeout Kung Pao. Instead, it’s a fresher, less greasy alternative. When we’ve tried to make our own Kung Pao at home in the past, the one thing we’ve never gotten right (and is arguably the most important component) is the sauce. We will test this one out and report back!

These recipes were provided by Eat St. If you like them, check out the full cookbook.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

For years Houstonians were used to ordering Chinese food and having it delivered, but Arthur Peterson and John Wentworth have taken that idea to a whole new level. With their rolling truck Rice Box, they bring the entire restaurant to you! There are a few examples of fusion-esque flair, but for the most part theirs is classic old-school Chinese food served up American style.

Kung Pao Chicken is a dish we’ve all had a thousand times before, but these guys do it up with a few slight differences.  First, they use dark thigh meat, which westerners find more flavorful but is contrary to your average Chinese joint. Second, substituting jasmine rice for the traditional white rice stands true to the truck’s motto: “Powered by rice!”


2 lb (900 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes

2 tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce

4 tbsp (60 mL) sesame oil

1 tbsp (15 mL) minced ginger

1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic

10 bird’s eye chilies (or to taste)

2 cups (500 mL) bean sprouts

1 cup (250 mL) chopped celery

½ cup (125 mL) roasted peanuts

Steamed jasmine rice for serving


Kung Pao Sauce

¼ cup (60 mL) sugar

¼ cup (60 mL) water

¼ cup (60 mL) chicken stock

¼ cup (60 mL) soy sauce

2 tbsp (30 mL) rice vinegar

2 tbsp (30 mL) rice wine

1 tbsp (15 mL) hot pepper flakes

1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp (15 mL) water


In a bowl, combine chicken with soy sauce and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the sesame oil; mix well to coat chicken thoroughly. Marinate, covered and refrigerated, for 2 hours.


Meanwhile, make the kung pao sauce. In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock, soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; whisk in cornstarch mixture to thicken sauce. Remove from heat.


In a wok or large, deep skillet, heat remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame oil over low heat. Add ginger, garlic, and chilies; cook, stirring, until chillies are sizzling. Increase heat to medium-high and add chicken. Cook, stirring, until chicken is light brown and almost cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in bean sprouts, celery, and peanuts. Stir in kung pao sauce, stirring until chicken is coated and cooked through. Serve on a bed of rice.

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Food Truck-Based Movie “Free Samples” Released Today

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Weixler and Eisenberg at the truck

Weixler and Eisenberg at the truck

Today a movie revolving around a single food truck launches. It’s not a documentary, it’s more like Juno meets Groundhogs Day. Dry humor, all things hipster, and the same thing happening over and over with a slight variant each time. It appeared in the 2012 Tribeca Film festival (among many others), and is now coming to us!

The basis of the storyline is a girl (played by Jess Weixler) works on a food truck for a day, largely because her hangover weakened her will to protest a friend’s plea to fill in for her. So, she’s stuck in a metal box under the strong California sun serving a single sample of ice cream to each person who comes up to the truck. She’s romanced throughout the movie by Jesse Eisenberg (of The Social Network) in a slightly Napoleon-and-Deb type fashion, with all the awkwardness plus a sprinkle of aggression. We don’t want to tell you too much about the movie itself, but we do think people who like food trucks might enjoy it, so we want to give you some additional deets we got from Weixler and director Jay Gammill (below).

Weixler said the heat in the truck was made even more fierce by all the lights for filming and can definitely sympathize with food truck owners who are in trucks in hot weather day in and day out. However, despite feeling claustrophic in the small space, she said it came with a certain sense of power as well. “You have people something want,” she said, adding that the vantage point added to the feeling of power.

That fleeting ascendancy was reflected back to her by comedian and Chicagoan Matt Walsh, whose moment of improv ranked as one of our favorite lines in the movie; he said, “You food truck people think you’re so cool. You’re not! I can get ice cream from the store.” Gammill said this unscripted moment is exemplary of Walsh’s fine improv chops. Upon further investigation *coughfivesecondsonimdbcough* we found out that Walsh co-founded the Upright Citizens Brigage with Amy Poehler and a couple others, and he was also in big movies like Ted and The Hangover.

So, if they could open their own food trucks, what kind would they be? Without missing a beat, Gammill said “tacos.” (We’ll try not to read into that too much, but we’re guessing that might be an indication that he either loves all things classic. Or isn’t a foodie. We sometimes forget that not all people google “new food trucks” for fun.) Weixler at first said sushi, then took that back wondering how that would be logistically possible to maintain food freshness, then replaced that response with “fried food” or a thai/mexican fusion truck (we would so go to that truck).

Our take on the movie? Weixler is dynamic and fun to watch, the food truck freaks (and freaky laypeople) are interesting enough you wonder who will come next, and you get thrown a less funny/more serious curveball now and then. it’s not a mind-bender but it’s quirky and enjoyable and BOY do we love a movie that has a food truck on screen more often than not.

If you are now so intrigued that you want to make the leap and see the movie, it is on iTunes today! Nope, it won’t be in theaters in Chicago. So just go on iTunes. Or Amazon Instant.

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Food Truck Week on NBC

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Today kicks off food truck week on NBC. Kicking off this morning was a story about Giordano’s  and their new truck. Here’s what the schedule looks like, so if you’re interested in tuning in they’ll be doing these segments during the morning news!

Schedule provided by NBC. 

Monday: at 5:45 Andy Avalos gets a first look at the brand new Giordano’s Food Truck @giardanospizza which also happens to have @drose pictured right on the back. The truck will hit the streets in the coming weeks.

Tuesday: Daniella Guzman takes a turn in @thesalsatruck to learn how to make a tacos on the go.

Wednesday: Kye Martin gets the love story behind @thefatshallot a brand new food truck hitting the road soon.

Thursday: Stefan Holt spends time with one of the hottest food trucks on the road - @5411empanadas.

Friday: We take a look at how the explosion of these new meals on wheels has created a whole Food Truck culture in Chicago which will include interviews with the city and yours truly.

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