RIP food trucks: top 5 trends for 2013, plus one wish

January 2, 2013

RIP Chicago food trucks

How many food trucks have been licensed to cook on board in Chicago? Answer: zero. My colleague Monica Eng reports 109 truck owners have applied for the new Mobile Food Preparer license, but none have been approved, since the city passed the ordinance back in July. While the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit, and produced a Game of Thrones inspired video on behalf of food truck owners in November, this could be the end of so-called chef-driven food trucks in Chicago as we've barely known them. 

World War KFC
 
In a nerd nod to the upcoming film World War Z, based on the book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, the Chick-fil-A story will rise again — but there's hope! In a world where factory farmed, fast food, fried chicken is the norm, there are not one, but two local, sustainable fried chicken restaurants opening in Chicago this year: Honey Butter Fried Chicken, from Sunday Dinner Club chefs/owners Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp, and Leghorn by chef Jared Van Camp, with his "socially conscious chicken sandwiches" and aggressive manifesto. Winner, winner, fried chicken lunch and dinner, indeed.
 
FREE food!
 
As in gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian, but far from free. Next restaurant's 2013 menus include "Vegan"; Senza was one of the most quietly celebrated modernist openings of 2012 and happens to be gluten-free; the venerable Chicago Diner took over the Logan Square Kitchen space for its second location; and Rose's Wheat Free Bakery & Cafe in Evanston was saved from closing on Christmas Eve by Marcus Lemonis, who's appeared on the reality show Secret Millionaire and CEO of Camping World, which reports "revenues exceeding $1.7 billion annually". This is not your hippie mom and dad's co-op health food.
 
 
This IS your grandfather's diner food
 
When restaurant kingpin Brendan Sodikoff announced he was opening a Jewish deli to be called Dillman's, leapfrogging his BBQ and ramen shops, he instantly created a trend, or rather continued refining the trend of classic comfort foods with better ingredients and technique. As I mentioned on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift with Rick Kogan, also look for simpler drinks, like whiskey neat, like your grandfather used to drink.
 
 
Frankenfish
Pink slime was so last year. This will be the year of Frankenfish. You may have missed this story, buried on the Friday before Christmas weekend, but the FDA has finally opened the floodgates for AquAdvantage salmon, genetically modified to grow twice as fast. By the way, it's the FDA that bans Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs in this country.
 
My top wish for 2013: Mission BEZ Food

Vienna Beef has a cafeteria open to the public. The Christkindlmarket has souvenir boot mugs. Imagine a WBEZ cafeteria at Navy Pier, open to the public, with drinks or soup served in WBEZ souvenir mugs and good local food, with a charitable donation from each purchase, like Mission Chinese Food.

It's a new year. One can wish.