CHICAGO — Attention late-night drinkers: the “DonerMen” are coming.
Indie rockers Shawn Podgurski and Phil Naumann from the band Sybris have embarked on a food truck adventure that aims to bring doner kebabs — Germany’s favorite “drunk food” — to drinkers in need of good grub.
“You know, word on the street is that late-night food isn’t very good business, but we know a lot of bar people,” Podgurski said. “So working with bars is definitely part of the plan.”
The DonerMen get their name from their signature dish, a doner kebab sandwich — piles of spit-roasted chicken topped with red cabbage, lettuce, bok choy and shirazi salad on German bread and served with flash-fried vegetables.
Podgurski and Naumann traveled to Munich and Berlin to eat as many of the German sandwiches — and currywurst sausages — they could in the name of research.
That’s where they found that currywurst can be strangely addictive, and that Mustafas Gemuse Kebab in Munich, a city that’s home to more than 1,300 doner stands, makes the best doner kebab.
The decision to add flash-fried vegetables to the DonerMen’s recipe was inspired by Mustafas.
“I don’t want to make to much of the vegetables because in the end most people just want a bunch of cooked meat on bread,” Naumann said. “But without the vegetables it's just the same boring chicken shawarma that you’ve had before.”
Sandwiches aside, another thing that stands out is the DonerMen’s bright red truck, which is wrapped in a mural of science fiction comic book warriors descending on the Chicago skyline as a giant Lake Michigan wave threatens to wipe out the city. The truck was hand-painted by artist William Test.
“It’s a neo-futuristic summation of years of comic books and toys and acid, down to the Shogun Warriors and the twisted bent of darkness that is adulthood,” Naumann said. “It’s so beautiful and better than what we thought of doing. We really want part of the truck’s identity to be a connection to the arts. [Test] is on a wavelength we wanted to be on.”
And they don’t plan to follow the current food truck status quo in Chicago.
“This is primarily a lunch and summertime festival food truck city right now, and that’s not what we’re going to do,” Naumann said.
“We’re going to go to plan ahead and tell people when we’re coming to places like Archie’s, Blind Robin and Green Eye so you know you can go there for dinner that night, take your food inside and enjoy. Or get late night food, too.”
The DonerMen will make their debut at Dark Lord Day at Three Floyds Brewery in Munster, Ind., on Saturday and expect to be touring the city by mid-May.
“We’re really close to getting our license in Chicago,” Naumann said. “They’re about out of hoops to make us jump through to start serving on the street. And we’re ready to get out there.”
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