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Chefs Join the Street Food Movement

Chefs Join the Street Food Movement

Solvej Schou | Associated Press

“People go to a restaurant, and they have to sit down, wait. Here, you can see your food made, and it’s faster and cheaper, fresh,” Alvarado said.

For Susan Feniger, a trip to India 30 years ago jump-started her shift away from French-style cooking. At her new Hollywood-casual restaurant STREET squares of toasted bread with sweet coconut jam, a Singapore treat called kaya toast, come with soft-fried egg drizzled with soy sauce. Small collard leaves serve as taco shells for Thai bites, a dish seasoned with toasted coconut, crushed peanuts, dried shrimp, ginger, chilies and chopped lime.

“I love street food,” said Feniger. “Many chefs do. I’m drawn to it because culturally I don’t like going to fancy restaurants.”

Last month, about 70,000 people crowded into the Eat Real Festival, a celebration of street food in Oakland that featured dozens of vendors like Joel Baecker, an alumnus of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley.

Baecker translated his love of local ingredients into his own Bay Area street food-inspired stand, Pizza Politana.

“We’ve really gotten the chance to connect to the local communities. When you get into street food, it’s almost an extension of a home-cooked meal. It’s much more familial,” Baecker said.

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