Street Food Strikes Back

Once upon a time, street food ran unfettered and unregulated, for both good and ill. But in many cities across the U.S., an increasingly tight cord of legalese has choked or even strangled the culture of food trucks, leaving citizens far poorer for their absence.

On that front, gastronomes the world 'round must concede: Chicago chef Matt Maroni is doing the Lord's work. The sandwich purveyor is petitioning the City Council with a model ordinance aimed at opening up the Windy City to freshly made food truck delicacies; right now, only pre-prepared and packaged foods can be sold on the street.

The Chicago Tribune writes that Maroni isn't just shooting from the hip on this thing:

"An experienced cook, Maroni was executive chef at Chicago's Mid America Club from 2007 to 2009 and has a degree in hotel and restaurant management. Most crucially, he has spent the last five months studying municipal codes about food trucks in other U.S. cities."

The result was a 30-page model ordinance that the chef is using to jump-start the council's action on the issue.

In related midwestern news, Minneapolis took a leap earlier this year, passing an ordinance that will allow a boom in food trucks in a limited downtown section of the city. The move has already borne fruit, with chefs like Beard award "Rising Star" semi-finalist Sameh Wadi testing the waters, and a new truck-mounted wood-fired pizza oven doing the rounds at farmers' markets. Among the biggest backers of the new ordinance are Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer of Chef Shack, a mobile outfit known for its Indian-spiced mini donuts, beef tongue tacos, and emphasis on high-end local ingredients. And where they have led, Minneapolitans fervently hope, others will follow.

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