Big Star Food Truck on the Loose

28 Sep
Chef Paul Kahan

Chef Paul Kahan (photo courtesy of Blackbird, by Michael Stryder)

Last night, at a Foodie Feed-Up sponsored by NesCafe’s Dolce Gusto, Chef Paul Kahan spoke to the attendees and shared plans for the Big Star food truck to go rogue.

As we all know, food trucks in Chicago aren’t allowed to actually prepare food on the truck, but Kahan and his team of foodie bandits and working to change that.

“We’ll probably have to pay some fines and get some tickets, but we’re going rogue,” said Kahan.

I, for one, couldn’t be happier. I think Kahan is the man to help push change through the legislation and erase this ridiculous rule.

So we shall see how it goes, but go it will. Damn the man.


12 Responses to “Big Star Food Truck on the Loose”

  1. Thad Rueter September 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    So, in the rush to ‘damn the man’–and don’t get me wrong, I think food trucks should be allowed to cook food ‘on site’ and go wherever they please–Kahan is going to make it that much harder for the local food truck industry to win needed official acceptance in this city? Because that is exactly what will happen–you will piss off people who already do a very good job of bending over for the obscenely greedy fixed-location restaurant industry (though I guess Blackbird is part of that world, too, right?). And no, this isn’t some brave civil rights stance. This is some chef deciding ‘fuck it all, I’ll cut in line, the rest of you be damned.” This isn’t some foodie version of Dr. King helping to kill the poll tax or segregated transportation or anything like that; nor some great feat of entrepreneurial bravery, no Braveheart moment for food trucks. I think patience, not cheap bravado, at this point likely will result, soon, in more food trucks that can cook on-site. Look at how far things have advanced in just a few years. Look at the surging demand.

    And this serves as another example of how so-called rebels in Chicago are beyond dumb these days, even if they are part of the ‘foodie’ elite. No wonder the rebels have no real power in this city; narcissism and ego seem far more important for such people than a reasonable and measured, course of (often slow) action. Reminds me a bit of the extreme bikers-are-holy extremists who make it that much harder for all the rest of the bikers to gain mainstream, and official, (and needed) acceptance in this town.

    Well, good luck,chef. Try not to aim too much for the feet if you would. All those bones make it painful down there.

    Thad Rueter

    • chicagofoodie September 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

      Hey Thad,
      What Kahan is doing with the food trucks isn’t that dissimilar to what Doug Sohn (Hot Doug’s) did during the Foie Gras ban. And we all know that ban was not long lived. I think the new Mayor and everyone else see this food truck ban as a petty non-issue and I anticipate it will be lifted within the year, or early into 2012. Thanks for the comment.

      • Thad Rueter September 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

        I certainly see your point, and am very sympathetic to residents frustrated by the city’s idiotic rules, but I respectfully disagree***. I think with the new mayor, and the surge in demand, patience will go much further than stunt and cheap publicity, which is how I see this. One has to know when to fight with bayonets and when to fight with, say, letters to the editor. I think Kahan has made the wrong choice, and I am skeptical of his motivations (that is, I think they are more about drumming up PR than changing the rules; doesn’t make him evil, only like nearly everyone else in life).

        That said, as much as I disagree with his method on this one, I sincerely wish him and his supporters victory. The food truck rules are generally stupid in Chicago, and I see no reason why consumers, aside from reasonable health inspections, need to be ‘protected’ by the city from those type of eateries.

        ***as to Foie Gras, there is at least one difference, I think: Foie Gras was allowed, then banned, unlike food trucks, at least in the modern era. To me, that is a meaningful difference. Please correct me if this is wrong.


        Thad Rueter

        • chicagofoodie September 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

          I can assure you it’s not about PR (considering I was the one who “broke” the story on my humble little blog). I think this is 100% about Kahan trying to get his truck out there and not having to serve bad, luke-warm tacos. Agree to disagree :)

          • Thad Rueter September 29, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

            Well, that’s a good point, too, though don’t sell yourself short–or Kahan. Even items on humble little blogs have a way of getting out to the masses.

            Anyway, thanks for the chance to comment, and let’s hope the city changes its rules soon.

        • Alessandra August 5, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

          oh, why are you torturing me?! from sushi to baby lotsber, and now sashimi! i got to have of these tonight couldn’t wait for the weekend..-= Luna Miranda s last blog .. =-.

        • Larry August 29, 2013 at 1:19 am #

          As an attoradney this interadests me. In Florida, we have conadstiadtuadtionadaladized “victim’s” rights. They have a right to avoid seqeusadtraadtion, they have a right to be heard at senadtencading, and they have other rights. Butm their name appears nowhere in the chargading docaduadment as a party to the case, other than as a witadness. The “State” is listed as a vicadtim. Because the “State” is the plaintiff/victim, stateadments the peradson whose purse was stolen canadnot be entered against them as a party oppoadnent, ostenadsiadbly because they are not a “party” to the proadceedading. This among other eviaddenadtiary matadters. I think they should be included as party oppoadnents– State of Florida, obo Jane Vicadtim, Plainadtiff v. Jack Badguy, Accused/Defendant. And yes, I have been the vicadtim of a very bad crime since becomading a defense attoradney. I have no probadlem with treatading vicadtims respectadfully, but we should get rid of the legal ficadtion that they are not “party opponents.”

        • viargra September 24, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

          This is the ideal answer. Everyone should read this

        • cheap car insurance October 18, 2013 at 7:14 am #

          Now I feel stupid. That’s cleared it up for me

  2. donna October 2, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    Oh, he’s done the math. He’s not a goddamn idiot, people. This is a calculated risk. His truck is gonna go park in the loop with all the other trucks and rake in more than the fines. Duh.
    I wish the food truck trend would just go away.
    I’m going to be the first to say “i told you so” when all of the food truck fanatics are crying foul about the trucks parked outside your loop office building.
    Why must we endeavor to make Chicago like every other city?
    We’re Chicago, goddamnit. We do it different, and better! We’re happy to wait in line outside of Paul’s places, Hot Doug’s and others, aren’t we? Our innovative neighborhood restaurants have historically been the anchors that revitalize underserved areas. There’s a ton of available storefront all over. We don’t need a Big Star truck crammed into already bustling areas. We need Paul to work his magic somewhere that needs a little love(yes, i’m looking at you, south side)…. The people will go to him. And a neighborhood will be grateful.
    Let’s quit playing copycat on the losers in NYC and LA.
    Keep it real, Paul. keep. it. real.
    you’re a pioneer. don’t be a bandwagoneer.

    • Jenny October 11, 2011 at 10:41 am #

      Donna, why should food pioneers give into the status quo of the crippling overhead that a physical storefront entails? If building owners would accept the state of the economy and reduce rents accordingly, then maybe more small businesses would be inclined to jump right in to a physical location. But as it is now, food trucks are a lesser investment, despite the also-horrific state of shared kitchen laws in this city.

      As for waiting in line for good food- there’s a limit to what everyone will stand (no pun intended.) In Chicago winters I would much rather run out to a truck than stand 30 minutes in line for an acclaimed hot dog. I don’t see it as playing copycat to NYC and LA, I see it as an equally viable way to bring new cuisine to everyone. Street food has existed across the world for a long time, trucks are just now playing a more mobile part of the scene.

      • chicagofoodie October 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

        I’m with Jenny on this. With the exception of a few places in the Loop, the Food Trucks bring a delicious break to my stressful day. I’d much rather have Paul’s tacos than a bread-bowl soup from Au Bon Whatever. But that’s just me.

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