Food trucks to participate in Taste of Chicago this summer

Food trucks to participate in Taste of Chicago this summer

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The city is changing up this year's Taste of Chicago, and food aficionados may be very pleased with the result. A different type of vendor will be welcomed into the food festival fold – food trucks!

"The food truck industry continues to build in strength and numbers, and my administration is committed to creating the conditions and opportunities that will allow this industry to thrive, create jobs and support a vibrant food culture across Chicago," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Friday.

These trucks will be part of the Taste for the first time this summer. All food trucks licensed by the City of Chicago will receive an invitation to participate.

The owner of the Tamale Spaceship got a call from the city offering him an opportunity to maybe bring his truck to the event, where the potential customer base grows from the hundreds to the hundreds of thousands.

"I just think it's great," Tamale Spaceship owner Manny Hernandez says. "You know, again, I just got the call and just the amount of exposure that we can get from that even, I think it great."

At the Taste, food trucks will park on the centerfield concrete path just east of the lawn seating at the pavilion near the Petrillo Bandshell. They will begin serving food one hour before each evening concert and continue for the duration of each concert, the statement said.

The trucks will accept the same food and beverage tickets as other booths and will serve 3-4 regular size items as well as two smaller Taste portions.

Applications for trucks to take part will be sent on Friday to all those licensed to serve on food trucks. The deadline to apply is May 15. There is no application fee, but trucks will be charged a 25 percent commission on their revenues.

"This will be a great way for many Chicagoans to get a sense of the excitement of this industry and sample some great food," Emanuel said in the statement.

"This is the perfect fit because food trucks can come in when it's getting busier, be on the perimeter of the event and allow for people to purchase in an area that didn't have food before," Taste manager Mary Slowik, echoing the mayor's statement.

The idea is being met with mixed reaction from regulars at the Taste.

 "I think it'd be a great idea," says Brett Friedman. "It'd be really accessible to people and I think it would be a good idea."

Julie Ward, though, doesn't really like the idea "because it is really about the restaurants" adding that she doesn't "think food trucks are restaurants, they're just really independent people."

Some truck operators, who have to prepare their food off-site, expressed concerns about the logistics.

"Usually for these kind of events, if you're not able to cook on site, you'd have to just ferry food back and forth from your kitchen," says Joe Scroggs from the Roost Truck. "With something this big, I don't know how that access would work."

The mayor's office also announced that seven new food trucks will hit the streets this summer, including the first three cook-on-board trucks made possible by reforms passed by City Council.

The mayor's office also announced that the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race, hosted by Chef Tyler Florence, will film an episode in Chicago this June. The show follows food truck competitors across the country. It will shoot for three days at various locations.

The Taste of Chicago takes place July 10-14 in Grant Park.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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