Street Food Fiesta in DC… With a Spanish Twist

Back in September 2011, I posted two commentaries (see here and here) about a topic that has been fascinating me a lot recently — namely, the explosion of the new breed of street food vendors. A few days ago, I came across an article that proves that my interest in that trend is well justified. It seems that the celebrity chefs are bringing the big guns out and exploring ways to get in on the street food fiesta. While planning the menu for his new restaurant in Miami, Spanish celebrity chef José Andrés is also putting together the final touches to his first food truck — called Pepe — which is slated to start roaming the streets of Washington DC in late February 2012.

The fact that a famous and successful chef with multiple fancy restaurants under his belt is interested in running a food truck is a fascinating insight into the viability of the street food business model.

But that alone is not the full story. What I find even more fascinating is that José is planning to introduce the concept of “virgin” cocktails to the street food menu. Imagine a world where you get your Jamón Ibérico sandwich and a paper cup of non-alcoholic sangria — all in the 30 minutes you have in-between business meetings on a busy day at the office. Wouldn’t that be great? Beats the current choice of canned Coke or Pepsi that you can get at your typical food truck (or fast food restaurant).

And, last but not least, the really bold part in José’s vision for the future of street food. Food trucks are not only going to provide the much needed variety to busy office workers, tired of the typical fast food chain options available close to their work. Food trucks can be used to save lives in areas affected by natural disasters. In a hurricane Katrina-like doom scenario, José argues he can deploy his army of food trucks as rapid response units, providing much needed food and drinks to millions of stranded and distressed people.

This is what I call a true vision. We’re not merely talking about a new business model anymore. José Andrés intends to raise the corporate social responsibility profile of the food industry to a completely new level.

For the full interview with José Andrés, as posted on Eater.com, please click here.

What do you think? Will we see more celebrity chefs (and even multinational food chains) enter the street food fiesta? Voice your opinions in the Comments section.

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