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Award-winning chef updates Lotus Festival's Food Truck Village



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Chef David Tallent, prepares albacore tuna Feb. 22, 2011 in the kitchen. This year Tallent put together Lotus World Music and Arts Festival's lineup of food truck vendors to give attendees a variety of tastes and local ingredients.  Steph Langan Buy Photos

When the annual Lotus World Music and Arts Festival kicks off Thursday night with both local and international music, the festival’s revamped Food Truck Village will add to the experience by offering festival-goers a similarly diverse blend of 
options.

David Tallent, award-winning executive chef of Traditions Catering, put together a lineup of vendors to give attendees a variety of tastes and local ingredients.

After last year’s festival introduced Food Truck Village, Sean Benolken, graduate assistant for Lotus Fest and coordinator of the village, said it gave those at the festival a feel for where things could be 
improved.

Although last year’s food trucks were organized on a smaller scale, Benolken said this year they were able to go into the concept with larger ideas and ambitions.

“With the diversity, with world music culture and as such a high quality draw of the festival as a whole, we wanted the food and beverage side of that to reflect that,” Benolken said. “Both from a local side with Bloomington vendors as well as more regional being able to tie in some really fantastic things that are going on in the Louisville, as well as the Indianapolis, scene.”

One food truck — Traveling Kitchen, from the Louisville area — will make its debut at this year’s festival. The truck specializes in Korean fusion tacos, which it will offer at the village.

Traveling Kitchen owner Pagva Victor said he thinks the fusion-style food will add to the diversity of the festival.

“We’re just excited to be a part of this event,” he said. “I was happy to be chosen, and we love Bloomington.”

According to a press release, 11 food trucks will be located on Kirkwood Avenue during Friday and Saturday night shows and during Lotus in the Park on Sunday afternoon.

The Food Truck Village will feature food trucks from Bloomington and the surrounding regional areas with a blend of menu options, including Indian cuisine, Pueblo-style Latin American fare and typical American-style food.

“Cuisine and culinary arts are a big part of experiencing other cultures, so we hope this will grow into another sensory dimension of the festival for our patrons to explore and sample,” said Sunni Fass, executive director of Lotus, in an email.

While the festival featured a few food trucks last year, Benolken said its popularity prompted organizers to add more options to the mix. Benolken said this is where Tallent’s expertise came 
into play.

Benolken said he worked closely with both Fass and Tallent to ensure each vendor offered distinct options so concertgoers would have as many options as possible. Benolken said Tallent looked for vendors who use sustainable, local ingredients when deciding what vendors to include in the festival.

“It comes down to each vendor’s choice and what they want to provide,” Benolken said. “They feel strongly that quality ingredients and supporting local farmers is important. That was always instrumental in Tallent’s restaurant and how he prepared food and presented his dishes and he wanted that to be a hallmark of the festival.”

While this year saw the expansion of the Food Truck Village, Benolken said there is still room to grow.

“We hope we can continue to be able to branch out and include more vendors from Indianapolis and Louisville as future festivals come,” Benolken said.

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