If there was any doubt Chicagoans are excited for a vibrant food truck culture, those doubts were washed away at last night’s Food Truck Summit.
It was a cloudy, rainy day in the Second City and the forecast for the summit was no different. In many cities, such nasty weather would discourage the masses from venturing out. Not so in Chicago, where the winters are harsh and weather patterns can shift by the hour.
Arriving at the event at 7pm (when it started), there was already a mass crowd huddled under a large canopy. The food trucks were parked in a U-shape, dishing out food as fast as they could. There were Chicken Milanese sandwiches from Hummingbird, gourmet macaroni and cheese from The Southern Mac, cupcakes from Flirty Cupcakes, and a handful of other food trucks. Even a new food truck – Taquero Fusion – was there handing out fliers for their May launch.
As the night wore on, the rain came down harder, blanketing the crowds that were determined to get a taste of Chicago’s newest food scene. There were screams mixed with laughter as we all looked at each other, a little bewildered why we were amidst rain and lightning — but all of us thinking because it’s for food…because it’s for Chicago.
There was easily 400 to even 500 that showed up for the event.
Heather Shouse, author of Food Trucks: Dispatchers and Recipes from the Best Kitchen on Wheels, was there generously signing books for the damp summit-goers. Alderman Scott Waguespack was also in attendance, talking with folks and clearly showing his support for the city’s new economic opportunity. While waiting in line I overheard someone say that all the food was gone.
All the food trucks sold-out in under an hour and a half!
Chicago is just now finding its place in the food truck craze that’s been arguably hotter and more prevalent in other parts of the country. An ordinance is before the Chicago City Council to allow food trucks to cook on board instead of only being able to serve pre-prepared food. Incoming Mayor Rahm Emanuel voiced his support for the change a few months ago. Fingers are crossed that the change will happen later this year.
Goose Island on Clybourn proved a gracious host for a night that folks were hoping would be a little drier and a little warmer. Still, Chicagoans rolled with the punches, giving a hearty thumbs up and a definite sign that this city wants more.