Oct 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken’s Food Truck Now Serves DC

Photo courtesy Astro Doughnuts Fried Chicken.

Astro Doughnuts Fried Chicken’s food truck is now serving D.C.

The truck began serving the Arlington area in January, with promises to also serve the city eventually. While the rain will prevent the truck from making its planned stop in Friendship Heights today, it will be in NoMa tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m and in Ballston on Friday. Its movements can be tracked here.

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Oct 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

Truck by Truckwest showcases Austin food trucks

AUSTIN — It’s a food truck taste-a-thon that also gives back to the community.

Imagine being able to eat from dozens of the best rolling restaurants Austin has to offer, and you can raise money to help feed Austin’s hungry at the same time.

Starting Tuesday, you can do just that. The second annual Truck by Truckwest runs Oct. 21 through Sunday, Oct. 26.

PURCHASE WRISTBANDS: Truck by Truckwest: Austin’s Food Truck Taste-Off

$10,000 food truck contest

Jessie and Robyn Morin are new to the food truck game. “Brand new. We’re two weeks old… two and a half weeks old,” she said. One of the best sellers at their truck is the early bird hand held sliders, a coffee encrusted burger.

“We’re usually quite busy,” Morin said. They hope Truck by Truckwest will bring every more hungry customers.

This is the second year the food truck taste-off is tickling local taste buds. Organizer Brian Erickson says even more rolling restaurants are taking part this time around. “Probably at least 30 of them are new that didn’t participate last year,” he said.

During the six days of Truck by Truckwest, 60 food trucks all over Austin will be giving out samples of their best grub.

Truck by Truckwesters buy a one, two or six day wristband which lets them get free selected food samples at each place.

At the end of the week, tasters vote on which place they liked best. The one with the most votes wins $10,000.

Morin says that prize would mean big things for her new business. “We would buy two very nice pieces of equipment, and we would get some support for Robyn in there are far as staffing,” she said.

Lee Wright just moved her Royal Roots Organic Mobile Cafe from Fort Worth to Austin. She believes Truck by Truckwest will have more people rolling over to her all organic business.

“It’s not really about the winning right now,” she said. “It’s more about getting the word out that we have a concept that hasn’t been bought to Austin yet.”

A portion of money from wristband sales goes to a worthy cause.

“We’re partnering with Keep Austin Fed, which seeks to end hunger in our city,” Erickson said.

Food park patron Lindsay Maresh said Truck by Truckwest is a great idea. She’s ready to take a bite and see what else Austin’s mobile food community has to offer.

“I didn’t know it was going on tonight, but now that I know I might go buy a wristband,” she said.

Last year the food truck “Hey! You Gonna Eat or What” was the $10,000 winner. This year there’s an app that will help you find this year’s participating food trailers.

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Oct 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food truck events galore this weekend

If you haven’t tried a Wichita food truck yet, you have zero excuse not to do so this weekend.

Several big food truck meetups are happening around town, starting on Friday with the Wichita Eagle’s Haunted Food Truck event from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday. It’ll be in the newspaper’s back parking lot, which is just off Rock Island between Washington and Douglas, and eight food trucks will be serving their food: The Flying Stove, B.S. Sandwich Press, Let’m Eat Bräts, Hopperoni Express, Stubby’s BBQ, The Waffle Wagon and Brown Box Bakery, which will be serving Halloween cupcakes. Charlie’s PizzaTaco’s new truck will be making its food truck rally debut, and Wichita Eagle writers will be there passing out candy, truck-or-treat style, to all the little visitors.

Also on Friday night, GracePoint church at 9035 W. Central is putting on its third annual Blocktoberfest, which will feature two food trucks: Funky Monkey Munchies and Park-n-Pork. It lasts from 7 to 9 p.m. and also will include a petting zoo, games, inflatables and more. The public is invited, and admission is free.

Then, on Sunday, the food trucks will gather for their monthly Food Trucks at the Fountain event. It’s from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the WaterWalk, 515 S. Main, and will be the biggest meetup yet, with a lineup of 12 trucks. All of the above mentioned (except Stubby’s BBQ) will be there as well as Strada by Luciano’s, Kona Ice and the new cupcake truck from Smallcakes.

The event also will feature live music from Mike Peltzer’s band.

In related news, if you missed my guide to Wichita-area food trucks that ran on Sunday, you can still find it here.

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Oct 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

Cadillac Bar hops on food-truck craze

Cadillac Bar has jumped into the food-truck fray. Look for its brightly painted Taco Me Crazy at food-truck gatherings, as well as parked at the restaurants. The truck’s menu features tacos stuffed with fajita meat (chicken or beef) and blackened seafood, as well as bacon-wrapped shrimp, quesadillas, burritos and sides. Don’t miss the sopapillas topped with chocolate sauce. Follow the truck’s whereabouts on Facebook at facebook.com/TacoMeCrazy.


Enjoy an evening of music, sake, beer, wine, cocktails and Japanese cuisine at Azumapalooza 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 30 in the parking lot of Soma Sushi. This annual event, presented by the Azuma Group, will celebrate the Izakaya, which is the Japanese version of a pub. It’s all you can eat and drink for $40. The Azuma Group includes all three locations of Azuma, Kata Robata and Soma. Live music will be provided by Mysterious Ways, a U2 tribute band. Soma Sushi is located at 4820 Washington. Find tickets at azumapalooza.com.

Evening in Milan

Tony Vallone has been exploring the diverse cuisines of Italy with a series of dinners at Ciao Bello. Next up is “Evening in Milan” – five courses paired with four wines – at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at Ciao Bello. On the menu: Osso Buco “Leonardo,” veal with a mini shank and chop with saffron-infused risotto. Cost is $125 plus tax and gratuity. 5161 San Felipe, 713-960-0333

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Oct 22, 2014
Tim Lester

Street-food cook may soon have her own SM stall

MANILA, Philippines – Lorna Bongayal of Laleny Food House, one of 47 hopefuls who entered SM Hypermarket’s “Best Pinoy Streetfood” elimination round in Cubao, was about to leave and abandon the lugaw and tokwa’t baboy she worked so hard to perfect because she could no longer bear the suspense. She had to rush cooking her special dishes just a few hours before the event, which made her doubt whether she’d done everything she could to win.

“I wanted to back out because I had no money to buy ingredients,” Bongayal said in Tagalog. “But my siblings and customers really wanted me to join because they believe in me.”

Bongayal won and will now represent SM Hypermarket Cubao against 29 others in the semifinals of the competition. 

Bongayal, along with Madel Lopez of SM Hypermarket Rosales, Villa Amor Loresca of SM Hypermarket East Service Road, Wendell Jay Franco Melo of SM Hypermarket Monumento, and Merly Dulay Co of SM Hypermarket Adriatico, beat hundreds of other contestants to move on and meet Kusina Master, celebrity chef Boy Logro, the dishwasher-turned-palace kitchen sous chef cooking for the sultan of Oman.

The 30 qualifiers from the different SM Hypermarket branches will compete for their own food business at SM Hypermarket rent-free and the recognition of cooking the Best Pinoy Street Food of 2014.

Eliminations are ongoing.

Next up is the search for the best pancit/ pasta/ mami at SM Hypermarket Valenzuela, Alabang Zapote Road, Fairview, Batangas, and Bicutan; the best inihaw/ BBQ at SM Hypermarket Marilao, Las Piñas, Novaliches, Molino, and Mandaluyong; the best silog at SM Hypermarket Baliwag, Marketmall, Makati, Muntinlupa, and North Harbour; the best adobo at SM Hypermarket Pampanga, Cainta, Pasig, FTI, and Sucat; and the best pancit/ pasta/ bihon at SM Hypermarket Clark, Taytay, Mall of Asia, North Edsa, and Sucat Lopez.

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Oct 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

The Southern Pitch food truck serves soul food with a side of history

Don Curry and the Southern Pitch food truck.

Don Curry hands me a business card from MacCormac College, a business college in the Loop where he teaches courses in entrepreneurship. Frankly, though, his commitment to the idea of entrepreneurship, especially for African-Americans in Chicago, was already pretty apparent—as unmissable as the 25-foot-long food truck he’s standing in front of, decorated with images of Negro League players like Satchel Paige and Rube Foster and old newspaper stories about long-ago games. This is the Southern Pitch food truck, whose slogan is “Enjoy the Food, Digest the History,” and he launched it, peddling both items, two weeks ago this Friday.

Curry’s interest in the history of the Negro League started as a fashion statement in college. Born in Chicago, his parents moved the family to Omaha for a better life when his mother finished nursing school. “So here I am, a freshman from Nebraska in college at Virginia State University, driving a yellow Fiat Spider, so you know, I’m different already,” he laughs. “I didn’t want to get the same hats, the New York hats or Sox hat that everybody else has. So I go to this hat store and I see the Negro League hats, and they called to me.”

His interest in the old-time players grew—”I liked the way the guys looked, just the stature that they held”—and a few years later he went to his first collectors’ event for Negro League fans, meeting Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, one of only three women players in the league’s history. He asked her to sign a book of vintage photos she was in, “so she signs and I’m stepping away and she says ‘No, baby, that’s five dollars.’ And I’m like, I’m a college student, I just spent ten dollars on the book! She said ‘Sorry, baby,’ and gave me a hug, and I gave her the five bucks.”

He got degrees in taxation and accounting in the mid-90s, and moved back to Chicago to work for Allstate. At a Negro League night at Comiskey with colleagues, he watched the crowds that lined up to get autographs from old-timers like Al Spearman and Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, and thought, “If these people are willing to stand in line to get these guy’s autographs, why wouldn’t they patronize a restaurant with that theme?” He spent several years tinkering with the idea, and in 2004 he opened a themed soul food restaurant in Bronzeville, as that area started to attract attention for redevelopment, called the Negro League Cafe, which lasted five years. Ironically, it was another redevelopment plan—the prospect of an Olympics held on the south side—that led to him ultimately losing his lease and closing the restaurant. He admits he was also burned out by then, and he moved, briefly, to New York.

While in New York he saw something he hadn’t seen in Chicago: a thriving food truck scene. “I met this guy on a strip of food trucks, I forget the street but there were about ten of them. I get to talking to him and telling him about my restaurant. He says, did you ever think about doing it as a food truck? I said, why would I? And he said, I’ll put it to you this way, I’m a five star chef, I worked at the Waldorf-Astoria, and I knew I couldn’t afford a space in New York City. I put $75,000 into this truck, and I’ve already grossed a million.”

Ah, yes, the instant wealth of the food truck. Somehow it seems to be more of a struggle in Chicago’s less friendly food truck environment. But Curry has a passionate belief in the power of entrepreneurship as a vehicle for African-American self-improvement, and it’s not hard to see that that’s why he identifies so strongly with Negro League baseball. One of the touchstones for him is, again, the old photos of the ballplayers that decorated his former cafe.

“The look in their eyes says, we’re not going to bitch and moan, excuse my French, about not being able to play a game. We’re going to master the game and compete. I think that if a lot of people really took that philosophy to heart, the world would be a better place, and you wouldn’t have as much crime and whatnot. Because people pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. [Retired Negro League ballplayers] told me, from talking to them over the years, it beat sharecropping and making $50 a month, where if you played baseball, you could make $200 a month if you were good.”

BBQ chicken, greens and sweet potatoes

As we’re talking about this, he’s parked in a truck bay at a warehouse building at Throop and Cermak, which several food trucks operate out of. He and a couple of employees are unloading pans of greens and sweet potatoes which they made the day before, reheating them for today because, he says, the seasonings improve overnight.

I ask him what food goes with Negro League baseball. “When I interviewed the [players], I asked them what food should we have. And they said, the food that we ate on the road! I knew that, but I just wanted to hear them say it. Now keep in mind, they couldn’t stay in hotels. They stayed in people’s homes. So it was collard greens, it was candied yams, it was fried chicken, one guy told me they’d even cook up a whole pig. I don’t eat pork, so I don’t do that. And we bake everything. We use my grandmother’s recipes for everything, even down to seasoning the meats.” Besides traditional soul food, there are sandwiches and wraps, usually named for players—a BBQ turkey sub, for instance, could only be named for Norman “Turkey” Stearnes.

One thing that’s different about the Southern Pitch food truck versus many of the others that have popped up in the past few years is where it sells. Although he makes downtown stops, he also has regular south-side stops, including near Vice District Brewery in the South Loop, around Hyde Park and the University of Chicago, and outside the courthouse and jail at 26th and California. “Though it’s just gloomy over there, even when the sun’s out,” he says. “But I guess they gotta eat too.”

For now it’s one truck, but Curry still has the idea that he first had when he started his brick and mortar restaurant, that Negro League-themed restaurants could work in many cities where baseball was part of the African-American heritage—and could communicate entrepreneurial values to younger generations. Right now, I wonder how sustainable teaching college and running a food truck is as a dual profession. But Curry characteristically looks at it from the bright side: “My students have gotten to see it all happen over the past year,” he says. Teaching entrepreneurship in class and serving food on the streets aren’t two separate professions, they’re theory and practice.

To see where the Southern Pitch truck is selling, follow them on Facebook or @southernpitchft on Twitter.

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Oct 22, 2014
Tim Lester

Roy Choi on Reddit: Street Food, Loco’l, and Emeril Lagasse

Roy Choi returns to Reddit to talk about his fast-casual concept Loco’l, his CNN show Street Food with Roy Choi, “the ultimate cake of ultimate stoner cakes,” and more. Here are the top 10 answers from his AMA (minimally edited for clarity).

This article and the AMA contain adult subject material, so use your discretion.

I wonder — do you ever cook something up and then not want to eat it? It’s pretty common (for everyone who cooks for themselves), yeah?

Of course. I f***** up a lot of things trying to impress girls back in culinary school. I was like yo, eat this even though I wouldn’t. Haha.

Hello Roy! Thanks so much for doing this AMA. I’ve read that Emeril was an inspiration to getting you into cooking. Emeril is Portuguese and so is my husband. Can you throw out a couple of Asian/Portuguese fusions you think might work? Kale, cod and kimchi?

Just think Hawaii. i think all the food of Hawaii is a Portuguese fusion in some sorts. Malasadas with lilikoi powder anyone?!

I think your Korean tacos solidified my love for tacos and have made me realize that LA has its own culture of tacos worth exploring. Of the traditional and creative types of tacos, what are your favorite spots in LA?

PS. The drunk version of me thanks you immensely for all the burritos and tacos I’ve had from Kogi.

My undrunk self accepts your thanks on behalf of Kogi. Traditional depends on which neighborhood you are in; some are: Mariscos, Jalisco, Leo’s, Ariza, and Taco Zone.

Were you/are you shy at all when it comes to being on camera?

Of course, it’s always nerve racking but I found a strength in the streets and stopped being self-conscious.

What is your favorite dish to make?

I still love cooking the Kogi taco because the way it affects everyone who eats it inspires me to believe in the good things in life even amidst the bad sometimes.

Chocolate Tres Leches looks like the most amazing thing ever! Any chance on the recipe? You have a book?

Dude, the tres leches is the stoner ultimate cake of ultimate stoner cakes. We once cooked them with 1/2 ounce of weed each and tripped for days. I have a book called LA Son but no tres leches, sorry.

Hi Roy! Thanks for doing this AMA. Last July, I picked up an issue of Lucky Peach magazine which featured your trip to Honolulu with Christina Tosi. I was depressed for quite some time and had very little interest in anything, but after reading the editorial, I decided to book a trip to Hawaii. Going to Hawaii was life changing and perhaps one of the best things I did for myself, and it started with your feature in the magazine so much thanks!

My question is, what are the top 5 favourite places you look forward to eating each time you’re in Honolulu?

Oh man, that is such a wonderful story. I’m touched and I hope you are out of depression now. I have dealt with it deeply before too and it’s a m****f****, I know. I love Side Street Inn, Helena’s BBQ, Leonard’s, Rainbow Drive-In, and Young’s Fish Market.

I saw Chef multiple times and I have to say, that was the hungriest I’ve felt after watching any movie ever! You have done such a brilliant job at making the food look so appetizing and appealing. Kudos for that.

So, as an expert in the field, what is the key to making food look so appetizing?

I think it was a collection of talented individuals with a collective goal. We had the best camera people, the best stylists, the best lighting and props, the best director, etc. then what I did was just cook food from the soul and Jon allowed it to make it past the cutting room floor.

It was a team effort on Chef, but my advice is, cook with deliciousness in mind and focus on color and composition.

Roy! What is your favorite burrito in LA?

I used to like Chabelita on Western, but right now I gotta go with my own. Kogi por vida. Burrito life.

Do you know any other ways to make good ramen noodles besides hot sauce or an egg? I’m broke as hell at school, and I’m experimenting with my microwave.

American cheese, my friend. Also, use salted nori sheets and canned meats. Do it up mang.

Choi goes on to talk about how he was “possessed” by the Kogi taco, the expansion of Loco’l into Detroit, and whether or not Wolf Blitzer is a cyborg. Of course, you should read the entire AMA on Reddit.

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.   

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Oct 22, 2014
Jim Benson

Familiar FIB’s tops Madison’s 2014 food cart rankings

The official city of Madison food cart rankings for 2014 have been compiled and there’s a familiar name topping the list: FIB’s Fine Italian Beef and Sausage. FIB’s also topped the cart rankings in 2012.

To be clear, the FIB’s in question is the original FIB’s, also dubbed FIB’s 1, which vends at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Main Street on the Square. FIB’s opened a second cart in 2013 that has been vending on or near Library Mall; FIB’s 2 ranked 25th this year.

The number one ranking for FIB’s 1 is helped with its seven points for seven years of seniority, plus consistent Chicago-centric branding from the cart (complete with Chicago-themed tunes) to its focused menu and carefully prepped foods.

Every fall, a committee of two dozen or so enthusiastic cart-eaters, recruited by street vending coordinator Warren Hansen, eats at every cart during a two-week review period. (Full disclosure: This year, I was a member of the committee.) Committee members are charged with evaluating each cart on a number of criteria, and scores are weighted 40% to food, 40% to “apparatus” (which includes evaluating cart design for both visual appeal and service practicality, as well as cleanliness and maintenance) and 20% to originality (with regard to both menu and cart design). Committee members must visit 80% of the carts or their scores are not counted.

Points are added for seniority (this tops out at 7 years, though, no matter how long the cart has been vending); deductions are made by the city for health or vending code violations. Top carts get their first pick of sites for the following year. If a cart’s scores fall below 70, further work is deemed necessary before it is allowed to vend.

Two carts had deductions for “significant health or vending violations” — SoHo Gourmet with seven and Hibachi Hut with five. Most carts have no deductions or just one.

This year, 50 carts participated, down slightly from last year’s 53 carts, but still up from 2012′s 48.

Here are the top ten carts in the city’s official scoring for 2014:

  1. FIB’s 1
  2. Good Food 1
  3. El Burrito Loco
  4. Curt’s Gourmet Popcorn (MLK at Doty Street)
  5. Zen Sushi
  6. Slide
  7. Caracas Empanadas
  8. Teriyaki Samurai
  9. Surco Peruvian
  10. Fresh Cool Drinks

A slightly different view of the current cart scene results if one considers what the committee came up with from the review period only (including food, originality and appearance scores, but leaving aside seniority and demerits). It’s easy to see how seniority points can really affect the overall list.

Here’s this somewhat altered top ten:

  1. Good Food 1
  2. SoHo Gourmet
  3. Good Food 2
  4. Slide
  5. Melted
  6. Ladonia Cafe
  7. Caracas Empanadas
  8. Curd Girl
  9. FIB’s 1
  10. Umami Dumpling

Looking at the list this way shines a light on some of the up-and-coming carts like Slide, a non-burger slider sandwich cart; Melted, a fancy grilled cheese cart; Curd Girl, home to ethereal fried cheese curds and housemade dipping sauces, and Ladonia Cafe, which features “healthy comfort food” that also happens to be vegan.

Worth noting here are the high scores for Good Food 2, a brand new cart from Melanie Nelson, who has replicated her popular salad/wrap/soup cart (the original Good Food usually vends at Main and Pinckney Streets) with a somewhat different menu, although alike in concept. Good Food 2 was the highest-scoring of the new carts jockeying for spots in 2015.

For new carts that have not vended before and aim to start regular vending next season, overall scoring from the review committee looked like this:

  1. Good Food 2
  2. Cali Fresh (a.k.a. Marimar Mexican Fresh)
  3. Pagoda Smoothie
  4. Café Social
  5. Bulgogi Burrito 2
  6. Blair Street BBQ
  7. Imperial Pops
  8. Marimar on Wheels
  9. Say Cheese
  10. Johnson Public House

The lineup of future vendors lacks any radically new cuisine or food type for Madison carts (unlike last year’s high-scoring Melted, for instance, which brought the grilled cheese trend to town).

Two of these new carts (Bulgogi Burrito 2 and Pagoda Smoothies) have had previous menu incarnations (as Wei’s Food to Go and Tea Garden, respectively) but retain the same ownership, and so retain their seniority points for their final scores.

View the complete 2014 rankings.

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Oct 22, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Beer Fest Hosts Miss Sunset

More than 20 beauties are set to strut their stuff on the ramp on Friday and Saturday at Sunset Arena in the inaugural Miss Sunset pageant. The pageant will run on the sidelines of the Sunset October Beer Festival and will take place at the Fringe Platform, a section of various fun activities of the beer festival off the Main Stage. On Friday, the opening day of the beer festival, the models will clash in the preliminary round of the pageant and selected finalists will contest in the final that takes place on Saturday.

Sunset October Beer Festival organisers said they had collaborated with Size 4 Modelling Agency to bring the pageant that would add fun to the festival.

Size 4 Modelling Agency director Wilbert Rukato said the pageant would bring variety to the beer festival.

“This will be a beer festival with a difference because it will also incorporate modelling. Models are often used to market beer brands and their presence at the festival will tell the story of their profession,” said Rukato.

“People are not used to seeing pageants at beer festivals but this edition will be unique and would show people the beauty that the country has. It will also be an opportunity for the models to market themselves for potential deals with various companies that will exhibit at the beer festival.”

Rukato said more than 20 models will take part in the preliminaries on Friday and 12 contestants will make it to the final to be held on Saturday, the last day of the beer festival.

Packages for winners have not yet been revealed but organisers of the beer festival said they had a big surprise for Miss Sunset queen.

“The pageant will be the first of many other to come in next editions of beer festivals. It will add colour to the festival that will also have many other activities. We promise a surprise for the inaugural queen,” said the organisers.

The two-day beer festival will present various fun activities in addition to music performances that will be on the main stage.

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