Thank you for all your submitted questions (both the rants and the raves are appreciated)! Comments are now CLOSED for this week’s “Ask Susie” Episode 2. Click on the links below to watch Susie’s Answers to your questions.
Canning, kitchen gardening, gourmet comfort food: There’s hardly a food trend these days that doesn’t owe something to the recession. This month’s most attention-grabbing trend, street eats, is no exception.
From Austin to San Francisco to NYC to Portland to D.C. to Seattle, across the country a new generation of food trucks and carts is emerging and expanding notions of what street eating can be in the process. The trend is drawing strength from a number of factors: cheap prices, of course; but also low start-up costs; and, not least of all, a large and growing pool of the newly jobless (many of them chefs) looking for entrepreneurial opportunity.
For these and other would-be street vendors, street food presents itself as a tradition-bound corner of the food service industry ripe for experimentation and ideally-suited to thriving in an economic downturn.
As a result, the new wave sets many of today’s prevailing food world trends-e.g. ethical eating, gourmet sophistication, cupcakes (enough already!)-on four wheels. Increasingly taco and kebab trucks find themselves competing for curbside real estate with crème brulee carts, cupcake trucks, mobile purveyors of escargot-on-a-stick and the like.
For their part, chefs and restaurateurs have seized on trucks and carts as a marketing tool for their restaurants.
Twitter has proven a major enabler of the trend. As Serious Eats points out, in mobile vendors, who use the micro-blogging service to relay info to customers, Twitter almost seems to have found its raison d’etre.
Ironically, even as street food gains cachet in some urban settings (and increasingly shows up in the world of fine dining) taco trucks find themselves under assault across the nation, beset by increasingly restrictive ordinances designed to curb their operation. All of which serves as a worthwhile reminder of just how race- and class-specific this street food trend really is.
Fortunately here in New York, the rights and interests of the city’s 10,000+ street vendors are fiercely defended through the heroic work of the Urban Justice Center and its Street Vendor Project. And it’s probably fair to say that here in NYC, the Project, through its efforts to raise public awareness about vendors, and in particular through its wildly successful (and wildly awesome) Vendy Awards (full disclosure: our own Rupa Bhattacharya is a longtime Vendy backer, volunteer, and fiend) has been a major motivating force behind the current trend.
Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian
As a kid, I looked forward to three things about my summer trips to my grandparents’ 160-acre Iowa farm: hiding out with my favorite book in the abandoned chicken coop, letting the calves suck my thumb, and feeding piglet runts from a baby bottle. Other than that, I thought everything about farm life was utterly uncool. The infamous swine smell, the coffee cans of rendered pork fat, and early-morning chores. Those things gave me the heebie-jeebies. I never dreamed that the habits of my grandparents, like collecting kitchen scraps for compost or putting up green beans for the winter, would be ones that I adopt, embrace, even exalt.
So I’ve grown up a little. And embraced my farm heritage. And experienced my first recession. It seems the rest of the country is right there with me—we’ve all grown up a little, and are finally seeing farming for what it really is—challenging, necessary and beautiful.
It doesn’t hurt that farmers, food journalists and chefs have laid the groundwork of making farm-to-table the chicest catch-phrase of the decade. So it won’t hurt for me to use that phrase just one more time—farm-to-table starts with you, in your own backyard (or fire escape, or windowsill). You don’t have to own overalls or piglets to embrace your inner farmer. Just a pot, some dirt, and a few seeds. And go ahead and collect your kitchen scraps while you’re at it. Ask a neighbor or a farmer at your local market if you can add them to their compost pile, or better yet, start your own.
Watch for more tips on how to get started when our second episode in our Good Food Gardens series airs this Friday.
Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens spokesperson
Knock over your television and climb right onto Ted Allen’s set. Fine. Not really to his actual stage spot… BUT, now is your chance to talk to the quirky food personality instead of begging the screen to respond.
Here’s the deal: I scored an interview with Ted this Monday to chat about hosting the new Chopped episodes premiering next week. So…. Ten, Nine, Eight step away and fire your questions to me for culinary guru Ted Allen, and I’ll pick a few to ask him. If you’re curious as to what top three Chopped secret ingredients Mr. Allen would choose, or what guest judges he’d like to see on the show – now is the time to ask. Send away. You have until this Sunday (6/14) at midnight.
Yours Truly- The SC
Here at FN, we’re all in favor of home-made popcorn, but you probably shouldn’t be trying this at home. And no, I have no idea why he’s not wearing a shirt.
Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer
It’s 8:00a, and there is a Food Network crew setting up a photo shoot in (Olympic ice skater) Brian Boitano’s house, and he’s not home. What does Brian Boitano have to do with Food Network? Well, as it turns out, not only is Brian Boitano an Olympic athlete, he’s also an outstanding home cook and an entertainer extraordinaire.
Enter Joanne Harmon, Design Director for Food Network, or actually enter me, into Joanne’s office to chat about hanging out with the star of our newest show, What Would Brian Botaino Make. Here’s the skinny from casa de Boitano:
Michael Symon once said in an episode of Dinner Impossible, “If it doesn’t have skin or bones, it doesn’t have flavor.” In a tough, do or die situation, he refused to use skinless, boneless chicken breasts. He called my go-to meat of choice “flavorless.” I was stunned by the insight. Could he be right?
Enter fellow Iron Chef, Bobby Flay – king of burgers, master of the grill, man of the spice rack. . . Could one of Bobby’s recipes prove Symon wrong? Armed with eight Indian-ish spices and Bobby’s Tandoori Spiced Chicken Breast recipe, I was hopeful.