Professional chefs Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer each have 20 years of experience working in notable, fine-dining kitchens of high-end restaurants in New York, San Francisco and Minneapolis, yet these two trendsetters decided to retire their chef aprons and take to the road .. literally.
The high spirited and innovative gal pals are operating a mobile food cart, one of only a handful in the state of Minnesota. Getting up at 3:00 a.m., they want to ensure that their street food meets the high standards of quality and safety their customers have come to expect. After all, they have a reputation to uphold.
Haute Cuisine from a Hot Dog Wagon
Their roving restaurant, The Chef Shack, looks like what many call a roach coach ” the lunchtime chuck wagon that parks outside busy office locations and serves up greasy burgers, tasteless hot dogs and bad coffee to harried workers. But The Chef Shack’s food is nothing like you’ve ever had before from a mobile food cart. Their menu promises a palette-pleasing selection of items that you are more likely to see in a gourmet restaurant, than in a 10-foot by 8-foot trailer. How about a cup of watermelon gazpacho? Or grilled asparagus served with frothy lemon aioli? Would you like to try a beef tongue taco? And don’t forget about the luxuriously juicy bison burger, served with fresh, homemade condiments. There are even fresh, crab sandwiches.
A fresh crab sandwich coming from a mobile food cart in the heart of the Midwest? Surely you jest.
“We are getting the crab in fresh – not frozen – from Maryland every weekend thanks to our fish guy,” says Summer, in an interview on KARE-TV.
The house favorites, however, seem to be the Indian-spiced mini donuts, which are Summer’s personal specialty. They can’t roll them out of their donut machine fast enough to keep up with the demand.
The Chef Shack is only open weekends. On Saturdays, you can follow the crowd of customers to Mill City Farmers Market in downtown Minneapolis. On Sundays, the same long line snakes around the Kingfield Farmers Market in South Minneapolis, where the regulars come for their favorite shack-made treats.
The high-end food that they prepare is made from local produce and supplies. Carlson handles purchasing most of the savory selections, getting beef and pork from some of the best local purveyors. Everything they serve is homemade ” even the condiments. There’s no mystery meat here, no sugar substitutes or anything artificial. Some have dubbed it “comfort food with a conscience”
“Unpretentious food fast, not fast food,”says Summer, to KARE-TV.
Nationally Recognized and Recommended
The Chef Shack has garnered a national reputation, having been selected by USA Today as one of the top ten places to eat in America. It was also listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the Elite Street Eats.
Both Summer and Carlson are having fun with their food trailer. They’re free to experiment with recipes and fresh ingredients, knowing that their loyal clientele will devour anything they create. They’re grateful for all the support they’ve had over the years.
“As a chef, I really appreciate getting to interact with our customers,” says Carlson. “I hand them the food and have them go ‘Oh, wow!'”