Taste of CU food truck

Jeff Gilchrist, owner of the Come Get This food truck, holds up one of the hot dogs he sells in front of the truck Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in Champaign. Gilchrist's truck, in operation for less than a year, will be making its first appearance at the Taste of Champaign-Urbana on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16-17.

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CHAMPAIGN — Prepare to be stuffed. The horseshoe is coming to the Taste of Champaign-Urbana.

The Come Get This food truck is making its first appearance at Friday and Saturday’s festival.

The food truck also offers Chicago hot dogs, Philly cheesesteaks, Polish sausages, chicken sandwiches. ...

Owner Jeff Gilchrist said, “I’m working on a veggie Philly.”

He said he makes sure to have a joke a day. But he’s serious about his research. Gilchrist made a pilgrimage to Springfield to study the horseshoe, and Philadelphia for the cheesesteaks.

And he has the chops. He worked 16 years at Olive Garden before becoming inspired to start his own eatery. This is his first year full-time.

Some of the foods are inventions of his own, like the Baby Boo-Boo Burger. Don’t you dare ask what’s in the sauce.

His own favorite? The Philly cheesesteak. It was worth the trip to that City of Brotherly Love, he said.

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Zoe Southlynn-Savage, special-events manager for the Champaign Park District, said the Taste is thriving with “the most (vendors) we have had in the last few years.”

Food and beverage tickets are sold in strips of five tickets for $5. Smaller “Taste of Portions” are between one and two tickets.

Also new this year, said park district spokesman Chelsea Norton, is the Amateur BBQ Competition on Saturday, with categories for kids and adults.

Sadly, the BBQ entries will only be distributed to judges, but people are welcome to visit and watch the judging, she said.

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Gilchrist, whose truck was parked in Champaign’s industrial park Wednesday, said you’re welcome to watch him and his crew create their specialties, because of the open windows.

“If you want to run with the big dogs,” he said, you’d better offer quite a few choices. Eric Marshall and Sharvae Price were by his side, all working on different sandwiches.

“The food here is real good. They know how to make it,” said an appreciative french-fry-eating customer, Jose Arres, taking a break from work on his lunch hour.

Painted on the candy-red truck is a comic portrait of Gilchrist in a chef's outfit, with glasses and a goatee.

“That painting is better looking than me,” he said. People have told him he looks like Darius Rucker.

Also at the Taste

— The Pie Run, a 3.14-mile course in honor of the number pi. There will be water and pie stops. You can choose any time between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to put in the mileage.

— You’ll be surrounded by music while you munch. As the schedule now stands:

Friday

5-6 p.m.: Dearie (indie/folk)

6:30-7:30 p.m.: Creole Stomp (Cajun/blues)

8-9 p.m.: Good Clean Fun Band (pop/rock/etc.)

9:30-11 p.m.: Dayton Funk All-Stars (Dayton and Ohio Funk)

Saturday

5-6 p.m.: Los Guapos (Chicha)

6:30-7:30 p.m.: Mank n Sass (blues, roc, funk, soul, hip-hop, acoustic rock, alternative)

8-9 p.m.: Caleb Cook (country/honky-tonk)

9:30-11 p.m.: Sunset Strip (’80s rock).

Reporter

Paul Wood is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is pwood@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@pvawood).