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DeRusha Eats Goes Behind The Scenes With Food Trucks

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The food trucks are back on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Even though they usually open their windows at 11 a.m., the work starts early in the morning.

You have to get up early to begin the day with with Christina Nguyen and Birk Grudem from Hola Arepa, and Natalie Coleman and her team from Dandelion Kitchen.

“We get started at six in the morning,” Coleman said. “People ask, ‘You close your window at 2:30 in the afternoon and you must go home.’ Nope, that’s not the case.”

Food trucks are small, but the culinary ambition is large. Much of the back-end work has to happen somewhere else.

Hola and Dandelion rent space at Kitchen in the Market, a commercial kitchen inside Midtown Global Market. Food truck law in Minneapolis requires trucks to have a real address.

“We’re here every morning and afternoon, loading up and unloading,” Coleman said.

Some trucks rent space at restaurants or catering kitchens by the hour. These two have a seasonal lease.

“Tomatoes are sliced right before service — anything that would break down over time, we try to do that as fresh as possible,” said Alex Brand of Dandelion.

The prep work certainly pays off in quality. Nguyen patties hundreds of fresh cornmeal arepas every morning.

“They’re best when they’re fresh, even trying to leave dough for a day, it gets all dense and gross,” she said.

Winning the food truck wars is certainly a daily race.

“Usually we try to get out the door by 8:40 — maybe I shouldn’t tell you that, so other food trucks don’t know,” Nguyen said.

Dandelion Kitchen is on Nicollet Mall in front of the IDS Building. Hola Arepa is usually on Marquette behind the Wells Fargo Building.

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