GINA ON THE JOB: Hot Dog Vendor
RADCLIFF, Ky. (WDRB) -- A local food vendor is rated among the top 10 hot dogs in the state of Kentucky.
In this edition of 'Gina on the Job', Gina is serving up lunch from the grill.
Gina joined Papa George's Chicago Style Hot Dogs' Papa George himself during Radcliff's busy lunch rush. "You're going to make a Chicago style hot dog and we're going to make it the right way, not the way some folks do it. We're going to do it the way that we do it back home," George Willis said.
First things first, Gina gets a lesson on the grill. "Pork chop sandwiches are pretty popular, brats are probably a close second, but the hot dogs, they're the staple," Willis said.
The hot dogs spend about 15 minutes of cooking, flipping and turning. "At an event, I've got 15, 20 different lines going and I have to go through," Willis said.
Willis opened up his shop five years ago. "I was homesick and I couldn't get my Chicago style dogs. I couldn't get my Italian beef sandwiches here and so I decided, you know what, I'm going to bring them here myself."
A Chicago dog includes mustard, relish, tomatoes, diced onions, sport peppers and a pickle spear. "We're not done yet, and now the final product is this, that's the celery salt."
Willis said ketchup doesn't go on a Chicago hot dog. "That's a cardinal sin in Chicago. One reason is the ketchup is going to destroy the flavor of the dog."
The mobile hot dog vendor has been rated as one of the top 10 best hot dog joints in Kentucky. "For me, it's not so much about the money. It's about the passion, about the love of the food and bringing that love to the people and I think that's the difference," Willis said.
Radcliff is home base, but Willis travels around the area. "The first year I was here, that's when folks would drive by and say, 'look at this crazy man standing out here in the cold' because no one was used to seeing a food vendor on the street in the wintertime, but that's what I grew up with. Now, I set up all over, I set up at the college, at the factories. I do that all four seasons."
Willis is serving up lunch and a sense of community for a few hours every day. "There are families that are hungry. Everyone knows that if Papa George is breaking down, if it's time to go home and if we're leaving now, this food will go to someone walking down the street. I actually stop people and say, 'hey, come here.'"
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