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by Jake Malooley Time Out Chicago Magazine
Becoming a city-certified festival food vendor is enough to turn anyone off the idea of eating giant turkey legs.
"Has anyone ever eaten something and shortly after you feel a gurgling in your stomach?" Daria Kulczycky asks her Summer Festival Food Vendor Sanitation Seminar one afternoon last week at Harold Washington College. The stern, middle-aged woman in a blue turtleneck is attempting to stir some gastrointestinal empathy in her students-myself included.
We will soon join the ranks of 2,200 vendors certified annually by the city to serve fried dough and meats on a stick to the masses at music festivals, neighborhood street fetes, farmers' markets and church fund-raisers. The workshop quickly feels like an episode of MTV's Scared Straight for summer food vendors.
"Suddenly, you make a mad dash to the bathroom," Kulczycky continues. "No sooner than you sit on the almighty throne, you realize whatever you consumed was contaminated with a pathogen!" A wave of ewww! sweeps through the sixth-floor classroom.
My ten classmates include a vegan Indian food vendor setting up shop at the Pitchfork Music Festival, a soft-spoken coffee entrepreneur from Portage Park hoping to start pouring cups at the 'hood's farmers' market, a veteran purveyor of cevapcici who recently began serving the pita-wrapped sausages at U.S. Cellular Field, and a brassy Italian-ice peddler whose sister operates a stand on Navy Pier.
The class, offered April through September, is admittedly a breeze. If your $35 registration check clears and your butt is in the chair for all three hours, you're gonna pass. In lieu of a diploma, a graduate walks away with a little blue card that fits nicely at the end of a lanyard.