Street Food USA Co-Creator Brian McGinn On What Defines Street Food - Exclusive

From the co-creator of the Netflix show "Chef's Table," Brian McGinn is back in the food world, this time documenting street food. The show, appropriately titled "Street Food," showcases chefs and restaurants all over the world that are serving up quick and accessible cuisine. The most recent iteration of the "Street Food" series is "Street Food USA," which focuses on ready-to-eat cuisine across the United States. The show, which is premiering now on Netflix, highlights all the delectable tastes and the people behind them.

It begs the question, though: What exactly is street food? Street food is something that everyone knows, but everyone has a slightly different definition of it. We sat down with co-creator and producer of "Street Food" Brian McGinn for an exclusive interview to discuss what the show defines as street food and how they use that definition to inform what they feature on the various iterations of the series.

There's no strict definition of street food

When asked what defines street food, Brian McGinn responded, "It's really difficult [to define]. Everyone has very strong feelings on what is street food and what isn't." 

He explained that they try to use the city they are filming in as the basis for their definition. As the rationale can change, they try to stay sensitive to what it means in that area. "We cast a somewhat broad definition of street food, because each city also has its own definition. A lot of the street food in Miami comes from these Ventanita Cuban coffee kiosks ... That's very different from LA, where we have so many taco trucks and taco carts, and that's different from Portland, where they've built these food pods."

McGinn concluded that while there is no one definition of street food, "We try to learn about each city and then come up with a new definition based on what it means in that place."

What makes good street food

As for what makes good street food, it turns out that it's not much different from any other kind of cuisine. "It's not so much what defines a good street food chef as it's what defines a good chef in general, and passion and really caring about sharing something with the world," Brian McGinn told us.

He also produces the Netflix show "Chef's Table," which focuses on high-end chefs from around the world. But McGinn explained that they don't necessarily showcase that style of cooking differently from the way they document street food, even if most people view street food and high-end cooking as worlds apart.

"We approach it with the same enthusiasm and passion and dedication. We want to shine a spotlight on anyone that we're taking our lives and our time to share someone else's story with the world," he said. "We're going to come into that with the same dedication and passion, no matter what the show is."

"Street Food USA" is streaming now on Netflix.