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I'm a guy who likes to cook, eat, and drink, but not necessarily in that order. This blog is nothing fancy; just my random thoughts about anything that can be baked, roasted, or fried. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meals on Wheels

Recently, I watched the movie Chef, and while I don’t expect this movie to win an Academy Award, much less be nominated, it was nonetheless a pleasant diversion. The movie stars Jon Favreau, who plays Carl Caspar, a once-hailed chef. After a scathing review by a renowned critic and blogger, Caspar discovers that he’s not cooking what he wants to cook. Rather, he is forced to sling the tired old staples that the uncreative owner (played by Dustin Hoffman), thinks people really want. This tension between the comfortable and the new is a never-ending battle in the culinary world that will never be won: 

Riva: Look, if you bought Stones tickets and Jagger didn't play Satisfaction, how would you feel? Would you be happy?

Carl Casper: No.

Riva: No! You'd burn the place to the f___king ground.

Carl's solution is to buy a food truck so he can make the food that's his passion. In this case, Cuban sandwiches.

This  movie got me thinking about my latest pipe dream (the previous one being a Bourdain-esque culinary-travel TV show): gourmet hot dog food truck! Like the Cubanos Carl makes in Chef, hot dogs are the ultimate street food. (And next to pizza, my favorite.)

The genius of the food truck is its accessibility, both for the owner and the patron. A food truck costs about $250,000 to get up and running. And while this is not exactly chump change, it is certainly a lot less than a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Food trucks can also be found in places where good food is usually hard to find. 

Of course, food trucks are having their Über moment—opposition from established restaurants who obviously have more political clout and don’t like the competition. This leads to—you guessed—ridiculous, anti-consumer, anti-competitive regulation. Yet, despite all these hurdles, there seems to be a new food truck rolling out every week. 

So, what would the menu be for my gourmet hot dog food truck? Here’s my first run at it:

Fat Louie

All beef dog with caramelized onions, melted gruyere cheese and sauce of mayo, Dijon mustard and diced cornichons, all served on a baguette

Big Sur

Turkey sausage, diced avocado, tomatoes, and cilantro


Pork sausage with Manchego and smoked Spanish paprika aioli

Spicy Kahuna

Pork dog with roasted pineapple and jalapeño salsa 


Pork dog with slaw and Carolina style BBQ sauce


Beef dog with chimichurri sauce and diced red onion

The Big Easy

Pork dog with olive salad and remoulade sauce 

The Bandito

Beef dog with chipotle ketchup and banana peppers.

The next step is to test these recipes to find out if they taste as good as they sound on paper. I did that with two of them this past weekend: the Fat Louie and the Spicy Kahuna. The most important thing I learned is that one should wash one’s hands THOROUGHLY after cutting jalapeño peppers and before placing said hands anywhere near one’s eyes! Thank God for Benadryl! The other lesson I learned is that caramelizing onions is not easy to do while watching a ridiculously close Alabama-Arkansas football game. 

But, at the end of the day, these two dogs turned out pretty good.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ve got a future in the food truck business! And if one of my readers out there happens to have a spare $250,000 laying around and thinks a gourmet hot dog food truck sounds like a good investment, then give me a call!

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