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Food Entrepreneurs Taking It To The Streets
CNBC.com | May 28, 2010 | 09:53 AM EDT

By now, Lev Ekster, 26, expected to be a lawyer.

Instead, he spends a lot of time tweeting about cupcakes.

Unable to find a job after law school, Ekster started selling cupcakes with creative flavors—such as banana cake and peanut butter frosting—off a food truck in New York City.

The truck, called Cupcake Stop , was a way to make some money until the tough job market eased up. Now, a year after launch, Ekster is sitting on a budding cupcake empire; he's expanded to two stores, two trucks and national online shipping.“If I would have known, I would have saved three years of law school and loans,” says Ekster. “This was never on my radar.”

New Owners, New Offerings

Street food in American cities— long associated with boiled hot dogs and big salted pretzels—is going gourmet as a new generation of entrepreneurs use food carts—and trucks—to offer such choices as Taiwanese-style fried chicken and Kobe-beef burgers. (Take a look at 10 gourmet food carts in our slideshow .)

And unlike the traditional street vendor—often an under-educated immigrant—the new strata of vendors is a well-educated, tech-savvy one, using Twitter and other social networking sites to build a brand and customer base.

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