Street food: not a fad

June 06, 2011

Find out about a new culinary class catering to one of the latest fads in food.

The food truck fad, the new street food, has hit the mainstream. Consumers and chefs consider the carts as a moving establishment for gourmet foods as well as a place to showcase their talent. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, around 2.5 billion people around the world eat street food every day. Street foods play an important role in helping to support and identify cultures. Stratford University in Woodbridge, Virginia, recently started offering a street food course that focuses on giving students an in-depth awareness about the sector as well as how to go about owning their own street food business.
In an interview with Chef Charleen Huebner, chef instructor, at Stratford The Lempert Report found out a lot about her great Street Food course.
TLR: So food trucks and street food have been around a long time, why did you choose to start this course now?

Chef Charleen: Well, now with the food channel and the celebrity chef, it’s becoming very popular, and it’s much easier than getting a brick-and-mortar establishment. Lots of chefs are taking this route in order to make money… to get themselves a free standing restaurant. So it’s a convenient way to get your name out, and its where you can allow the public to get to know your food without having to put up all of the money up front… street food has been around for a long time, from the hot dog vendors to NYC that sell warm pretzels and chestnuts on the street.  
TLR: How did you come up with the idea for the course?

Chef Charleen: I was looking for something that was “in” now; something that a student who isn’t able to open up their own business would be easily able to translate into a food truck. I wanted to give them a taste of what it would be like to have a street food business but also exposure to what life is like around the world in different cultures and countries…
TLR: So what do students learn?

Chef Charleen: The curriculum includes many popular street food varieties in the US including hot dogs, ice cream, gyros, pretzels, kebobs, and pizza. Students also learn about street food from around the world including popular items from India, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, and Central America. 
TLR: It seems like food trucks are getting much more sophisticated than they used to be; you can’t even get a simple hotdog anymore…

Chef Charleen: Yes, you are seeing a much more sophisticate pallet and more thought going into the food. Fusion, especially Mexican and Korean in southern California - you are looking at a higher class of food a more elegant dish, not your corn dog or hot dog - although they are still out there, and they are the foundations. 
The class also teaches the students about social networking and marketing and other business aspects of owning and operating a food truck.
The food truck fad is here to stay! Click here for more on Stratford University.