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Monday, May 6, 2013

Soup's On at Simmer Truck

Milwaukee's newest food truck joins the ranks of mobile meals

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It's only been a few years since Milwaukee discovered the joys of food truck dining. Downtown, at festivals and farmer's markets, the variety of mobile food options continues to expand. Demand for these popular vendors is also on the rise and every year new trucks join the fray. The latest addition to the scene is the soup specialist Simmer Truck.

Steve Perlstein, Simmer Truck chef-owner, can't wait to get his truck onto the road. Working as a professional chef for the past 12 years, he thought for some time about opening his own restaurant. But, the overhead and demands associated with a permanent structure were not quite what he was looking for. "A food truck allows for more flexibility," Perlstein says,  "It's more cutting edge, and a whole lot cooler [than running a restaurant]."

The converted "short bus" turned food truck hits the road mid-May, featuring four made-from-scratch soups a day, fresh salads with Perlstein's own dressings, specialty paninis and homemade potato chips. Everything is prepared daily at the Simmer Truck's "home base," a rental space in a commercial kitchen, and then properly stored for convenient roadside sale. The deep fryers in the truck have been cleverly converted to keep the soups piping hot.

The Simmer Truck serves soup in 8-, 12- and 16-ounce sizes. A soup flight includes 8-ounce portions of all four of the daily soups. At least one soup and one dressing a day will be vegetarian and gluten free. Among the gluten-free items are a delicious corn bread, the hearty spicy Simmer chili and Perlstein's authentic Caesar dressing. 

Pearlstein and his wife/business partner, Jennifer Block, earned some of the funding for the truck from the entrepreneurial support website, Kickstarter. Simmer Truck reached their goal by offering incentives to potential backers like free soup coupons, Simmer Truck T-shirts and a highly sought-after secret recipe for Perlstein's tomato basil bisque. "It is really gratifying to see the support we have received. Out of the 50 backers we have, 30 to 40 of them are strangers that believe in our plan," Perlstein adds, "and they really want that soup recipe!"

The Simmer Truck will be serving food on the street all year round and is available for private catering events.

For nay-sayers who think a soup truck won't make it in summer, Perlstein says, "We'll be parked right next to trucks that will be serving food like burgers and fries that are just as hot as our soups." He laughs, adding, "Of course, on really hot days, don't be surprised to find my ‘killer’ gazpacho or a chilled cucumber soup on the menu."

To see Simmer Truck's menus and a daily location map visit simmermilwaukee.com.