Unless you’ve been living under a rock stocked with food to last you a year, you’ve probably heard about Chicago’s struggle to come up with solid food-truck legislation that’s fair for everyone involved.
Sure, we customers would love for food trucks to be able to cook on board, and we wouldn’t mind having the trucks waiting for us at our office doors every day. But there’s so much more to operating a food truck, most of which goes on behind the scenes!
Haute Sausage’s Bayou Gator sausage with smoked chipotle okra, leeks and onions. Um, yes please.
We talked to Rich Levy, the owner and operator of the Haute Sausage truck, to get an idea of what his life is life now. Rich was born in South Africa and moved here when he was 13 — plenty of time for the grilled-meat culture of his mother country to shape him from a culinary standpoint. Here’s a look at an ordinary day for the Haute Sausage King:
5 a.m. Wake up. Grab the truck; find a parking spot somewhere in the Loop. (Gotta get there before 6 a.m. to find a good spot!)
6 a.m. Grab a cup of coffee, watch the sun come up, maybe do a little meditation. Head to Haute Sausage’s River North kitchen space.
6:30 a.m. Start grilling.
When the staff is done making the food, they load up a second truck and shuttle the food and driver to the truck in the Loop.
9 a.m. Start tweetin’! Rich sets up scheduled tweets and updates — four tweets per truck, at least once an hour — including locations and menus for the day. “I try to get a couple of retweets, maybe a couple of laughs, every day,” he says.
10 a.m. Head back to the Loop to feed the meters. (Depending on location, a ticket is anywhere from $60 to $120!)
Back in the kitchen, cooks finish the last batch of sausages, and Rich heads back to the Loop for a NASCAR pit crew–worthy food load-in. They’ve got the whole handover and switcheroo down to about 30 seconds.
11 a.m. Begin deployment!
11:30 a.m. Start serving sausage.
“As soon as we see a line start forming, all the running around and scrambling to get stuff ready is worth it,” Rich says. “By the time we open there are usually five or six people waiting, and as the day continues, it’s even more. It’s the most rewarding experience.”
1:30 p.m. Close up shop.
A crazy day before some city 9-to-5 folks even hit their afternoon crash. Whew!
Finally, we asked Rich what he thinks of the new proposed legislation.
“This city doesn’t muck around — it might have cost a billion dollars and taken years to build Millennium Park, but now that it’s done, it’s a tourist attraction like no other. They’ll get this ordinance right, and it’ll attract the best chefs in town to start trucks.
“I’m looking forward to the new legislation because we won’t have to deal with this parking situation. We’d just book a time and show up to our designated spots when it was time.
“I’d love for the city to give us some real estate near Michigan Avenue and other high-traffic locations. Maybe build an area with a couple of public bathrooms, power and plumbing, and four or five parking spots — create an area that would really attract people.”
Haute Sausage hautesausage.com | Twitter: @hautesausage