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Hot Dog

willy dog hot dog cart

We always like to learn more about our winners.  The man behind our 2014 Hot Dog Vendor of the Year, Jim Bontaine has a story to tell.

It’s funny how a disagreement with an employer can completely change your life.  For some, it means joining the local police force, for others it means taking a step away from corporate life to be your own boss.  It was this decision that led him to take ownership of the Willy Cart, now lovingly known as the Willy Dog.

Jim started in the food service business when he was young.  He spent summers working at his family-owned a trailer park in Cayuga grilling hot dogs and burgers every Sunday.  While his dad worked in Toronto during the week, he and his mother ran Conway Park.  Jim did a bit of everything.

After his father’s passing, they gave up the park and Jim held sales and management jobs in a variety of places.  All of that experience taught him how to run his own business… And I know the students of McMaster are happy his path brought him to Hamilton, Ontario.

He started with one cart outside of a local beer store on Dundurn Street twenty years ago.  He quickly branched out seeking nighttime locations, eventually expanding to 4-6 bars weekly at night, while maintaining his day spots.  He got to know the students in town and upon their requests; Jim explored a spot on campus.  After a brief negotiation, his on-campus location was approved in November 2003.

Jim and his staff have rarely missed a day in the last 10 years.  In his time on campus he’s gotten to know the McMaster students, worked to raise funds for their organizations, and become a part of the fabric of the community.  In fact, the Art Gallery of Hamilton requested Willy Dog at the wedding reception on behalf of their clients, students that met while getting their ever-present, always delicious hot dogs.

Students at McMaster can study a variety of degrees, but Jim always reminds the students to “Study Dogology this term” on all of his promotional fliers.  He was even approved by a university committee to have an authentic maroon Mac jacket made up with the Willy Dog logo on the arm, “Dogology 101” on the back indicating his inaugural year of 2003 on campus.  This jacket is a source of pride for Jim and his place in the McMaster community.

Jim sees many of the same students week after week.  To cater to McMaster’s international student and faculty clientele, Jim has added all sorts of toppings to his offerings.  Willy Dog’s customer favorites are ketchup, onions, crushed BBQ chips and Sriracha sauce.  Some recent additions are cilantro chutney and tamarind hot ‘n spicy date chutney.  The variety of toppings on his all beef, halal chicken and veggie dogs keeps his menu exciting for his customers.  When Jim isn’t on campus, he can be found with an extended menu catering private events or with his Willy Dog Cart in many of Hamilton’s special events, such as the Super Crawl in September.

Jim has been able to build a great business, one in which he takes great pride.  “This business isn’t for everyone,” he says.  “Don’t expect overnight to suddenly make money.”  The responsibilities of owning your own business are challenging, let alone the long hours of standing and the weather.  After speaking with Jim, it sounds like none of that bothers him.  His students and his involvement in Hamilton constantly energize him.

What’s next for Jim and Willy Dog?  He’s so excited about the food truck industry and considering expanding onto four wheels.  He’s also got his sights set on a takeout location in the west end of Hamilton.  It looks like the students of McMaster and the people of Hamilton have let this entrepreneur grow and thrive.  We’re always happy to support those visionaries that build their empire, especially when it’s one delicious hot dog at a time.

willy dog hot dog cart

Do you like hot dogs?  With more than 45 percent of the 5,000 votes cast in our recent poll, it’s apparent that Hamilton, Ontario loves the Willy Dog Hot Dog Cart!  We are proud to announce that they are Mobile Cuisine’s 2014 HOT DOG VENDOR OF THE YEAR.

We are happy to celebrate this great news with Jim Bontaine, the owner of the Willy Dog Cart.  He’s made McMaster University his year-round home rain or shine and the students deserve a huge shout out!  They overwhelmingly supported Bontaine and his hot dog creations.  That’s the type of news that keeps us interested in the mobile food community.  The community!

To accommodate his diverse student clientele, he’s created over 30 toppings for his dogs.  There’s something for everyone from every corner of the globe to cover your veggie, beef or halal chicken dog.

As the Spring term starts, we wonder what the future holds for this McMaster University institution.  Will we see more colorful carts around town?  Will there be over 40 toppings by Fall term?  Whatever comes next, we can’t wait!  All we know is that Bontaine and Willy Dogs will be there to serve the best hot dog dishes!  Based on Willy Dog lovers, we think a road trip is in order to try as many of those creative toppings on every dog.  We heard there would be a riot if he ran out of barbeque chips!  Hmmm…  I’ll leave my pitchfork at home and bring extra napkins with my appetite.

Rounding out our top 5 Hot Dog Vendors of the Year are: 

2. Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs – Buffalo, NY – 30%

3. American Wiener – Tampa, FL – 14%

4. Short Leash Hot Dogs – Phoenix, AZ – 4%

5. Good Dog Hot Dogs – Houston, TX – 3%

Hungry for more?

We’ll take a deeper look into Willy Dog in a feature article later this week.

hot dog contest

Grilled, gourmet, dirty and even chili dogs being served from a food truck were the bulk of the nearly 1,500 votes cast in part 1 of our 2014 best hot dog vendor contest started 2 weeks ago. And today we are proud to announce our Top 15 and the opening up of part two.

We received votes from all over North America, but for this poll we could only select the mobile food vendors with the 15 most votes submitted. We will be running this poll for the next two weeks and will close it out on Friday, May 2nd at 12 PM (midnight) Central Time. The winning truck or cart will be profiled here at Mobile Cuisine and will hold the title of Top Mobile Hot Dog Vendor for 2014.

This years contestants are:

American Wiener – Tampa, FL
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs – Denver, CO
Dang Good Dogs – Durham, NC
Detroit Coney Island – Kansas City, MO
Dogzilla Hot Dogs – Orange County, CA
Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs – Buffalo, NY
Good Dog Hot Dogs – Houston, TX
The Greasy Wiener – Los Angeles, CA
Haute Sausage – Chicago, IL
Japadog – Vancouver, BC
Let’s Be Frank – San Francisco, CA
Nana’s Heavenly Hot Dogs – San Diego, CA
Sassy Hot Dogs – Dallas, TX
Short Leash Hot Dogs – Phoenix, AZ
Willy Dog – Hamilton, Ontario


Please note, if you have issues voting with the polling software, you can submit your vote to contest@mobile-cuisine.com or in the form below. The software we use only allows one vote per individual and from time to time, the software can block users from voting based on their ip address.

callahans hot dog truck

BERGEN COUNTY, NJ – Daniel DeMiglio can barely contain his enthusiasm. Which is understandable, considering that the 31-year-old is finally getting the chance to do what he is convinced he was “born and raised to do”: sell his family’s famous deep-fried extra-long hot dogs, Callahan’s.

More than seven years after his family closed their legendary hot dog spot on Palisades Avenue in Fort Lee, DeMiglio, the grandson of founder Leonard “Artie” Castranni, is bringing Callahan’s back – this time, on wheels. DeMiglio bought a food truck and plans on selling his dogs all over Bergen County: the very same hot dogs, he proudly assured, that his grandfather, uncle and father sold for 46 years. “I even have the original cook,” DeMiglio said. “It’s the same hot dog, the same buns, the same everything.” Oh yes, even the same price: $3 for a dog.

The only difference? Wheels. “Now I can go to the people – to weddings, to parties, to festivals.”

Find the entire article at northjersey.com <here>

hot dog contest

The mobile food industry is chugging along and gourmet food trucks have been a big part of the recent uptick in its growth. With that said, prior to the launch of the Kogi BBQ truck in 2008, there have been plenty of street vendors making a living by selling on of the most beloved street foods in the US…HOT DOGS!!!

Encased meats have been part of Americana since their invention. There is a long history of hot dogs and a lot of disputed “facts” about their origin. Never disputed has been the love Americans have for them. No matter what region of the country or what style you prefer your doggies…hot dogs are one of the most eaten foods in America.

The hot dog has many connotations: an American classic with a squiggle of yellow mustard, a “dirty water dog” at an NYC street stand and the savior and bane of parents with picky eaters. Nowadays, it also rivals the hamburger as a canvas for chef-driven experiments in comfort food. And the results are delicious.

Because of this, we are starting a contest to find out which food truck or cart is serving our readers favorite hot dog.

Like all of our other contests, this contest will open today and will be run in two stages. For the next two weeks (we will accept emails submitted by 12 PM Central Time on Friday April 18, 2014)  we will give our readers to submit their choices via email at: contest@mobile-cuisine.com, and once the data is collected, we will open a poll (Monday April 21, 2014) to allow voting from the top 10 email submissions.


To be eligible for the final poll, the vendor needs to have opened before January 2014 and must regularly serve hot dogs from their truck, cart or trailer (sorry hot dog stands are not eligible). The ingredients of the hot dog or the condiments served on them can be any combination of flavors, or cuisine and the hot dog can be served in or out of a bun. The vendors can be located in any country so feel free to submit choices from outside of North America.

We look forward to receiving your submissions. Hot dog vendors are free to submit their own carts or trucks for consideration and voters may vote as often as you wish. The only request we have is that you submit one entry at a time and include the name of the vendor, as well as the city  or area the they operate in.

So let the voting begin. And remember, vote early and vote often.

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NYC_Hotdog_cartNEW YORK CITY, NY – Would you like some mustard … and an arrest warrant on that?

A Manhattan hot dog vendor is on the run after accumulating $300,000 in unpaid fines for various violations, the New York Post reports.

By obtaining fake IDs and altering social security numbers to obtain new Health Department licenses, the dirty dog known as Ehab Elsayed or Mohamed Elkholy or Mohamed Elsayed (the list of names is probably longer) has been able to stay on the streets.

He’s had his licenses yanked four times between 2005 and 2012, but that hasn’t stopped him from peddling  sketchy wieners. His footlong record of unsanitary salesmanship includes everything from contamination to selling on restricted Midtown streets.

This isn’t the NYPD’s first “ketch-up” with Mr. Elsayed. He was busted in 2012 for felony forgery and tampering with public records, but the charges were reduced and the case was sealed for unknown reasons, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court Clerk.

Mr. Elsayed must really love selling his precious wieners, since he was arrested again in January 2013 for vending without a DOH-license. After missing his June court date, the police issued a new warrant and are on the hunt.

Next time you’re craving a street-treat, choose your hot dogs wisely.

Find the original article <here>

hot dog fun facts

The internet is full of fabulous facts about everything from current events to the history basket weaving. Because of this, as we research for our daily content on food trucks, food carts and street food, we stumble upon some items of knowledge that we just did not know. We have decided when these fun facts pop up, that we would share them with our readers in our section titled “Did You Know?”

For today’s Did You Know we will look at the Hot Dog fun facts.

hot dog fun facts

The Facts: Sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed food, having been mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as far back as the 9th Century B.C.

  • Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, is traditionally credited with originating the frankfurter. However, this claim is disputed by those who assert that the popular sausage – known as a “dachshund” or “little-dog” sausage – was created in the late 1600’s by Johann Georghehner, a butcher, living in Coburg, Germany. According to this report, Georghehner later traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new product.
  • It’s said that the frankfurter was developed there in 1487, five years before Christopher Columbus set sail for the new world. The people of Vienna (Wien), Austria, point to the term “wiener” to prove their claim as the birthplace of the hot dog.
  • As it turns out, it is likely that the North American hot dog comes from a widespread common European sausage brought here by butchers of several nationalities. Also in doubt is who first served the dachshund sausage with a roll. One report says a German immigrant sold them, along with milk rolls and sauerkraut, from a push cart in New York City’s Bowery during the 1860’s. In 1871, Charles Feltman, a German butcher opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand selling 3,684 dachshund sausages in a milk roll during his first year in business.
  • There are various theories about where the name “hot dog” actually came from.  Some believe it was a holdover from the 1850’s when sausage makers were often accused of using dog meat in their links.  The most common attribution however, is to a cartoonist named Tad Dorgan, who drew a cartoon depicting the “hot dachshund sausages” being sold at a New York baseball game and called them “hot dogs” because he could not spell dachshund.
  • July 23rd and September 10th are National Hot Dog Days.
  • Baseball fans will consume more than 26 million hot dogs at US baseball stadiums this season. That’s enough to circle the bases 36,000 times.
  • In honor of the 1996 Olympics, the world’s biggest hot dog was 1,996 feet long, created by Sara Lee Corp.
  • The average hot dog is consumed in 6.1 bites. (average sized mouth tested)
  • NASA has approved hot dogs as a regular item on Apollo moon flights, Skylab missions and space shuttle flights.
  • Use a spatula or tongs to cook your hot dog on the grill. They can lose moisture and tasty juices when pierced by a fork.
  • From Memorial Day to Labor Day every year, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs. That’s 818 hot dogs consumed every second.
  • U.S. soldiers in military posts around the world consumed 2.4 million hot dogs in 2007.
  • New Yorkers eat the most hot dogs, more than any other city in the country.
  • According to the National Sausage and Hot Dog Council, the most commonly used condiment is mustard which is the topping preferred by 32% of Americans.  The second place finisher, with 23% of the vote is ketchup and chili takes the third place spot with 17% of the vote.
  • Although most hot dogs are made from pork and/or beef, recent health concerns around the nutritional content of traditional versions encouraged producers to provide healthier alternatives.  Hot dogs made from chicken or turkey are available in most grocery stores, and many meatless alternatives that are made from vegetables or soy products are also widely available.

Hot Dog Fun Facts We Missed

If so, please feel free to let us know in the comment section below. We always love to add to these lists. If we can verify that the facts is just that, a fact, we will give the reader credit in the article.

Reference: Wikipedia: Fun Facts about Hot Dogs.

Summer Dog

SEATTLE, WA – Splash on over to the city’s first floating food truck.

Chris Rice (bartender at Ethan Stowell’s upcoming Rione Xlll) and Emma Schwartzman (an alum of The Corson Building and Boat Street Cafe, as well as Stowell’s restaurants) are operating “Summer Dog,” a hot dog boat most commonly found on the water near the UW Waterfront Rec Center or the Arboretum, though yesterday they were also trying out the South Lake Union waterfront park. The 24-foot pontoon boat is “like a floating playpen,” said Schwartzman, albeit one equipped with a professional grill and fridge. It’s got the same permits as any mobile food unit, she said, “ours just happens to be on the water.”

How it works: They tie up at a buoy and take orders from any kayak, stand-up paddleboard, sailboat, motorboat, or other vehicle for people to float their way. They tie up together, take orders, and hand over the finished food. “They’re within arms reach.”

The food is “very straighforward,” Schwartzman said. They’re selling $6 dogs “just like your downtown street-meat-style hot dogs,” including pork and Kosher beef and veggie dogs and bratwurst, served on Franz buns. There’s “every kind of classic condiment you can think of, including the requisite cream cheese and sriracha.” Rice is the grill chef and “likes to get a nice caramelization and char” on the dogs, while Schwartzman handles toppings. Drinks are $2 standard sodas; think Coke, Fresca, root beer.

Find the entire article by Rebekah Denn at the seattletimes.com <here>

Photo courtesy of Summer Dog


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