Ingrid Hoffmann Shares Latin Burger and Taco Truck Menu Preview, Serves the Streets in More Ways than One

You'd have to be a Smurf living under a Hen of the Woods mushroom to not know that our country's culinary epicenters are consumed by street food mania. Dessert Truck in New York City and Kogi Korean BBQ in Los Angeles were among the first gourmet vendors to gain a cult following among foodies. 

It took a recession, but cheap eats are now in vogue.  Last month, Katie Couric even took notice of Daniel Delaney, a 20-something entrepreneur living in Brooklyn who ingeniously capitalized on this trend with, a website featuring well-produced webisodes of his street food adventures across America. There's been talk of this self-proclaimed "Cartivore" planning a visit to Miami in the spring.  By then, he may actually, finally, have some material.

Hot on the tire tracks of Chef Jeremiah's GastroPod announcement comes Food Network chef (and local) Ingrid Hoffmann.  Her new mobile food concept is set to roll this Saturday at a charity event with Frank Kelly's Project Vacant Streets (10:00 a.m. - noon; Community Partnership for the Homeless, Chapman Center; 1550 North Miami Avenue, Miami.) 

The Latin Burger and Taco Truck will roam South Florida thereafter serving lunch, dinner, and after hours eats, daily to the public and also at special

events.  Like other social media-savvy vendors before it, the truck will engage in daily games of cat and mouse with hungry customers, using the Twitter handle @latinburger and a Facebook page to broadcast its location.

We caught up with Ingrid over email last night, when she shared some first details on what to expect when the truck opens for business and how, through this new venture, she's helping Miami's homeless find work.

SO:  You're one of the first to do mobile cuisine in Miami.  Why do you think it took this long to catch on here?  Are we ready?
IH: Not sure why it has not been done here before but I am sure Miami is ready,we love food, art and fashion and we have always been early adopters of trends, in this case I think mobile is here to stay and not just for food.

When did you get the idea to do street food and how did it come about? 

IH: At first this past year I had such a hard time placing my kids at the Food & Finance High school in NYC in internships that it really frustrated me and showed me the grim future for so many with and without education that it impacted me tremendously. Then at the same time  that I  was going through  this I happen to have the same  conversation with Frank Kelly comparing notes on how hard it was for him to place his graduates from Project Vacant Streets in this economy and one night in bed it came to me that we just had to create the jobs. Mobile is a great way to test market a concept /project, employees etc and so that was the beginning of a dream.

Would you consider it a "gourmet food truck"? Describe the menu for us.

IH: The concept is gourmet street food!
We will be experimenting with different styles burgers and tacos from a decadent Latin Burger, which is a chuck, chorizo and sirloin burger, melted Oaxaca  cheese with caramelized jalapenos and onions & a red pepper mayo, to healthy chicken tomatillo taco served in sprouted grain flowerless tortillas.  There will be the Gringo Burger the Sweet fries and all my special sauces. 

We'll always have 3 burgers, 3 tacos and weekly special ranging from Mole and Tinga poblana to Curry salmon taco with pineapple salsa and jalpeno aioli or Ancho seared beef with queso blanco and cumin mojo.

SO:  And the price point?

IH:  Prices will range from from tacos at $ 2.50 to burgers at $ 5.75.

SO:  Will it be fully staffed by homeless in the Project Vacant Streets program that you are supporting?

IH:  Each shift will be a mix of homeless and culinary students supervised by a chef.

SO:  Will proceeds from sales fund the program, too, on an ongoing basis past the launch event?

The idea is for it to self sustain and grow to multiple trucks as

well as donating proceeds from the healthy taco to Amigos For Kids

program of which I am on the board. Our mission is to educate children

and families against neglect, abuse and poor diets. Amigos for kids and

myself have also partnered with Common Threads, a National foundation

to help educate children to cook and eat healthier, so I am trying to

marry all these good causes in to one.

Do you plan to continue to work the truck personally in the future?

Of course it will be my way to de-stress and have fun and at the same time sample recipes for my new book, what better than to be out there hearing first hand what people like and don't.

Are there plans for more trucks in Miami or just this one? 

Of course I would like to expand but one truck at the time for now!

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Jackie Sayet