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Chi Phi & Food Truck Bazaar in Central Florida Future

The Food Truck Bazaar heads to Knight Library

Chi Phi, owned and operated by UCF alumnus, cooks up Philadelphia inspired food

Smells of BBQ, Philly cheese steaks and chicken and waffles engulfed the air at Knight Library on Friday night, and despite late afternoon showers, more than a hundred locals and students showed up to take part in The Food Truck Bazaar.

With eight food trucks filling up the parking lots surrounding Knight Library, students eyed the variety of foods before them as they walked to the bar.

Early in the evening, a small group of students stopped and talked to the chefs about their food choices.

The Food Truck Bazaar finally made its way to the UCF area. Although the event ran into nasty weather that prevented large crowds from coming out early, people showed up in droves later in the night.

“We’re gonna try this one time and see how it goes,” The Food Truck Bazaar owner Mark Baratelli said. “Obviously today it’s pouring down rain so we don’t know what’s gonna happen, but were going to try this once and a couple more times and see if UCF supports it. If they do, then we’ll definitely be back.”

This was the first time that this event had ever come near UCF, and it was in large part due to the owners of the food truck Chi Phi and the owners of Knight Library.

“I know the owners of Chi Phi, this awesome food truck, who know the people at Knight Library, and we all put our heads together and came up with this concept, and it just seemed like a perfect fit: food trucks, a bar and college students,” he said.

After a strong turn out, in spite of nasty weather, Baratelli was excited about coming back to the UCF area.

“I want to come back and do it again,” Baratelli said at the end of the night.

James Guerino, a UCF alumnus and one of the owners of Chi Phi, said that the students at UCF would embrace the food truck community.

“You can go to one event and try five to 10 to 15 different tastes of culture, ethnicities and just completely different styles of food, cooking techniques, and you can kind of knock that out in one night,” Guerino said. “We were surprised that there is a huge food truck population in Orlando but none of them come around UCF.

“We feel like that’s a demographic we would like to get, being that we’re both UCF graduates and proud alumni, we would like to bring that UCF demographic into that world.”

The trucks at the UCF event were: Melissa’s Chicken & Waffles, Chi Phi Philly Cheesesteaks, Carobama BBQ, La Empanada, Local Yolk’l, Curbside Chef, Tamale Co, and Charlie’s Bakery.

Locals who follow the food truck community often travel from place to place to continue to try different trucks and everything each truck has to offer.

“My wife and I went to one in Casselberry,” UCF library employee Jonathan Hanie said. “We had some really good tacos here at the last one. It was called Waco Taco, and they were really good.”

Hanie hopes that The Food Truck Bazaar will make it’s way back to the UCF area, saying that it provides a wide variety of food options to the people who go to the events.

“We’re trying the beef brisket truck; we didn’t try that at the last one,” Hanie said. “We like the food trucks, we just basically wanted to sample what we’ve got and what we haven’t tasted.”

Chi Phi Gets Rolling

Chi Phi got started when Guerino and a friend came to the realization that they should be sharing the classic foods that represented the cities they loved so much. For Philadelphia, there is the Philly cheese steak; for Chicago, there is the beef hot dog.

“The first thing he would do when he would go home to Philadelphia was eat a cheese steak, and the first thing I would do when I went home to Chicago was eat a beef,” Guerino said. ”We were like, ‘man, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could get something just like home in Orlando,’ and that’s basically where Chi Phi was born.”

Chi Phi is authentic through and through. Their condiments and breads all come from the respective cities: Breads and condiments of Philly-inspired foods come from Philadelphia, and breads and condiments of Chi-Town inspired foods come from Chicago.

The Food Truck Bazaar’s Start

Baratelli started out as a small events blogger for

“I was kind of paying attention to what was going on in the city, what was new, different and fun,” Baratelli said. “I was doing these little events, these little pop up events and art shows — things to kind of make the town a little more exciting — and then I did this thing called The Food Truck Bazaar, which was just eight trucks in a parking lot, and 4,000 people showed up. Then I did it again and more people showed up, I did it again and more trucks came out.”

That was when he got the idea to take this food truck event on the road from town to town. Now, cut to 2014 and they’re in 10 towns a month, every single month.


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Posted: February 27, 2014


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