THE BLOG
12/30/2014 11:19 am ET Updated Mar 01, 2015

The True American Food Outlaws are in Chicago

More than any other human on the planet, I would like to have a beer with Bill Murray. You know Bill Murray's walk. It's more of a strut or stutter step filled not with hubris, but with a smirk and some effervescence. You can see it in his John Winger character from Stripes, as he pays for his shoe shine and exits with, "My philosophy: a hundred dollar shine on a three dollar pair of shoes." Bill Murray is from Chicago and I wish I could get a copy of the Cubs game where he sat in for Harry Caray and called everyone on the other team bums, derided the Canadian National Anthem, insulted the umpires' fashion sense and pointed out that the Cubs shouldn't have to play day games because they like to party all night. He also supports cutting off beer after the eighth inning because, "anybody who can't get drunk before the 8th inning doesn't belong here." Bill Murray is an outlaw. I know some other outlaws in Chicago, the true food outlaws of America -- Glutton Force Five. It would be wrong to call Glutton Force Five simply a food truck (Glutton Force Five) and a brick-and-mortar place in a mall (Taco in a Bag.) Glutton Force Five is a food lifestyle brand. Run by Pat "Deepdish" Bertoletti, who handles the food creation part, and Tim "Gravy" Brown, who handles the magical marketing and promotion, Glutton Force Five is as kick-ass as food gets.

As I stared at the graffiti art stained side of the food truck (besides the likeness of Gravy and Deepdish in space suits, other mascots include PartyBot, a drunk robot, a pink Unicorn whose name I don't know and Mr. Snugglesworth, Gravy's porky bulldog), I asked Gravy why he started the distinctive food lifestyle brand and he said he always wanted a real life "R" rated version of a Johns Hughes movie to become his existence. I can ascertain from many late nights spend with Gravy that he has achieved his dream. He once tried to cash in his mortgage check at a strip club in Indianapolis asking for all singles, he played drugs roulette with a baggie of pharmaceuticals the middle of a tiki bar, and after a blueberry pie eating contest to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Stand by Me, he jumped into a creek naked inviting the entire crowd with him. Some would call those nights epic, eccentric or historic, but Gravy called them Friday, Wednesday and Sunday, respectively. As Gravy launched Glutton Force Five, he held down a day job doing marketing for HVac while at night marketing The Admiral strip club (his "Comic Strip Live" at the peeler joint during Chicago's Comicon was a monster hit due to enlisting Harmony, Dakota, and Bambi as a topless Darth Vader being flanked by two topless Stormtroopers. The ensuing concurrent combination of high SAT scores and premature ejaculation has never been topped.

Deepdish went to culinary school at Kendall University and while his classmates were setting up mis-en-place on the line at fine restaurants in Chicago and New York, Deepdish was working as a fish monger, at a giant catering place, and traveling the intestinal byways of America on weekends as Major League Eating's #2 eater. At the catering job while cooking hundreds of duck breast, he removed all the cooked skin and made duck skin tacos with homemade salsa verde and tortillas. It was one of the most delicious and decadent foods I've tasted. He quit all those jobs to focus on the food creations his palette dreams of -- flavors that on paper would be diametrically opposed but together form a harmony of outrageous deliciousness. A lifetime fan of biscuits and gravy, but living in a Mexican neighborhood, he created a chorizo breakfast gravy that is generously layered upon his homemade chips, garnished with tomatillo sour cream, pepper jack and green onion. It is vicious, spicy, and addictive. Also, like the Glutton Force Five brand itself, unapologetic.

There are no appetizers in the Glutton Force Five universe -- just mains and dessert. After selling out of queso cheesesteak Shepherd's Pie, the food truck would offer Elvis bread pudding with a banana peanut butter frosting. Taco in a Bag makes fresh donuts to order with three dipping sauces to follow a meal that might include, The Norberto (spicy braised chicken thigh, sautéed pepper and onion, pepper jack, avocado jalapeño sauce, dried cranberry, Sriracha drizzle), The Sudo (black bean and corn salsa, citrus marinated shrimp, romaine, cilantro and lime) or cheeseburger nachos (ground beef cooked in old style beer, cheddar sauce, poppy seed and crumbled potato chips, special sauce) or all three.

Chicago is an anti-food truck town (food trucks can only operate on private property limiting them to festivals and private parties) and Taco in a Bag is 45 minutes from downtown Chicago in the Spring Hill Mall because Gravy and Deepdish received a year's free lease by winning the Food Network's Food Court Wars. Rumor has it that Taco in a Bag will open a Chicago proper location soon, undoubtedly becoming a foodie haven for those who miss Hot Doug's Hot Dogs. Gravy and Deepish's vision for Glutton Force Five's future may be more esoteric than the staid Chicago restaurant community is willing to commit to -- it's an unabashed bacchanalia of food, a culinary "Caligula," an orgy of '80s movies, tamarind spice, punk rock, and two shirtless men riding a pink unicorn. Simply put, Glutton Force Five are America's True Food Outlaws and one day I expect to be in line behind Bill Murray at Taco in a Bag and we can finally have that beer.