Wait up, summer's not over yet. You can tell because the streets are still lined with the ever-growing food truck culture in Milwaukee. It's Food Truck Week here at OnMilwaukee.com and all week long we're stopping at some of Brew City's best restaurants on wheels in search of the most interesting dishes on offer.
In 2010, The Fast Foodie introduced Milwaukee to the concept of the globaco. Pair "global" and "taco," and you get wonderful flavors inside a traditional taco. The Jamaican Me Crazy mixes curried beef and rice with hot sauce and broccoli slaw.
Since I haven't eaten at The Fast Foodie in a few months, I decided to reach out to owner Jackie Valent and ask her a few questions about her business, the state of the food truck business in Milwaukee and other things.
So, here you have it. A mini Milwaukee Talks with The Fast Foodie herself.
OnMilwaukee.com: How has the food truck scene changed since you started?
Jackie Valent: There are many more trucks on the scene since we started. We have also seen so many trucks come and go in a few short years. The city has realized that food trucks are here to stay and not just a passing fad and are more willing to sit down with us as business owners vs. simply viewing us as "street peddlers."
OMC: Biggest challenge, so far?
JV: The biggest challenge for us so far has been the disorganization of the licensing process and how much it costs to be a mobile restaurant. For example, we also run an employee cafeteria (brick and mortar) for a company downtown that we got based on our food truck's reputation. It costs us less than $800 a year to license that facility. Due to the fact that every municipality and event has its own requirements, I can pay triple that just to operate for the season. There is no reason we should pay triple of what a brick and mortar restaurant has to pay when we are only operating for six months out of the year. It is as if the municipalities are more interested in their fee revenue than building small businesses in the area and creating jobs.
OMC: Favorite food truck, other than your own?
JV: There are so many great ones out there that it is hard to choose! I love Chameleon, Gouda Girls, Pita Brothers and Simmer so much that I'll eat there whenever we are doing events together.
OMC: What "foodie trends" do you like and dislike?
JV: I love the movement toward eating more natural foods and getting away from chemical additives. It may cost a bit more, but you know you are getting more wholesome food that way. I also love the pop up restaurant concept that allows great chefs to test out their menus on the public without the huge investment in a location. I'm also a huge fan of the craft beer movement as well. My husband and I are huge beer snobs and love the fact that Milwaukee is reclaiming its title as Beertown USA with such awesome new breweries as Brenner Brewing and Biloba Brewing in Brookfield.
As far as dislikes, I'm not a huge fan of molecular gastronomy. There's a lot of great science behind that and all, but I'd rather see folks cook out of love and passion.
OMC: What do you do in the winters?
JV: We do not operate the food truck in the winter, but with the employee cafeteria we run, that is a year-round gig. I have also just launched a line of all natural international spice blends called Love Dust that allow both the seasoned foodie and novice cook to create dishes from every corner of the globe with no effort. We just finished our first offering to the public at the Wisconsin State Fair and it went over so well! We are now looking to get the blends into stores within the next few months.
OMC: Define success.
JV: Success to me is the freedom to answer only to you and your customers. I lived in Corporate America for years and though I was financially successful, I was not emotionally successful. Success is being able to live an authentic life the way you want. Oh yeah, paying your bills isn't a bad thing either (she says with a smile).
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.