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Arts & Culture

Milwaukee Venture Savors Soup, Served Up Roadside

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Mitch Teich photo
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The food truck phenomenon was a bit late in arriving in Milwaukee, compared to some cities, but there is an apparent renaissance underway.  Buying food from a vendor on the street here is about more than lukewarm hot dogs – it’s gourmet cuisine, ranging from Asian, to pizza, to West African, to now – soup.

Steve Perlstein is optimistic that Milwaukeeans will enthusiastically slurp his tantalizingly sumptuous savory liquid concoctions.  His enterprise – the Simmer Truck – comes off the back burner and to a full boil this weekend.  He co-founded the truck with his wife, Jennifer.

Perlstein, who brought along some tomato basil soup to the Lake Effect studio recently, says it wasn't his initial plan to start a food truck.  The former journalist-turned-chef originally planned to start a traditional, bricks-and-mortar restaurant, but the costs were daunting.

For a fraction of the price, he had a mini-school bus retrofitted to serve soup and sandwiches, and in the process, started a business that's far more flexible than a conventional restaurant.

"You know, if we don't want to run the truck on a particular day, we don't take it out of the garage, and we don't open. If a location isn't working, we start the engine and drive away and find another one." - Steve Perlstein

The Simmer Truck was started in part with crowd-sourced funding through a Kickstarter campaign, which in turn received a boost from an endorsement by Milwaukee musician - and Lake Effect alum - Trapper Schoepp: