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“Streetfood USA” Documentary: These Are the People Who Bring America to Life with Culinary Delights

Netflix docu-series
These are the people who made street food huge in America

Street food king in Los Angeles: Juan “Billy” Acosta (right) with his one and only – his family.

© Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

If you want to know how America ticks when it comes to culinary delights, you need to hit the streets. Street food brings together many cultures. For the documentary series “Streetfood USA,” we look at the masters of street food into their pots and hearts.

It is still dark outside and it is very early. Billy sees his father in the shadow of the fire. Look at him and admire him. Watch him stir the pot with the big paddle. How he turns the skin, belly and shoulder into carnitas. As his father allowed skin, pork belly and shoulder to become carnitas. Billy, the youngest of eight children or, as the father says, his “last breath”, wants to help. When he holds the oar in his hands for the first time, he knows that this is his destiny.

Many, many tacos have crossed the street food counter since then. They have survived many tragedies. And Billy the Kid became Billy the Chef. But nothing. He can call himself the boss of the best taco stand in all of Los Angeles. In the new Netflix documentary Street Food USA , the Acosta family shares how their “carnitas el momo” became a Castro icon in Los Angeles, cooking to survive illegal Mexican immigrants.

The best street food the USA has to offer

Whether it’s Filipino skewers from the grill or Guatemalan churrasco from a shopping trolley, pizza or hot dogs – “StreetFood USA” showcases what America’s streets have to offer culinary-wise. In each of the six episodes, the documentary series tackles a different culinary stronghold in the country. It is a journey from Portland, New York and New Orleans, Oahu to Miami via Los Angeles. The spotlight is on the specialty, the details.

At the heart of each episode is a main character’s story. It’s about food, but mostly about the American dream. About Kiauna “Kee” Nelson, who was in prison before taking his food truck on the street, or Thuy Pham, who came to the U.S. as a boat refugee. They speak of origin and culture, family and unity. It’s a fight to get there and a fight for every dollar. The protagonists do not allow themselves to be seen only in the cooking pot, but in their hearts.

They open their cookware and their hearts

For example, Billy can be seen with his father, Momo. Wanting to finally live after the hardships of a hard working life, Momo loved to travel. After his son “Carnitas” took over the sceptre, he suffered first a stroke and then a heart attack. Momo works out with Billy with rubber bands to regain his strength. The rubber band is a symbol of the close bond between father and son, a bond between generations. One that connects Mexico and the United States.

“I graduated high school and didn’t go to college. That’s all I could do,” says Billy. “Carnitas El Momo” stands for culture, passion, family, love, friends. “That’s it,” says Billy. “I don’t want it to go away.” He loves his job. But at the end of the day, it’s about telling his family’s story. It is a success story. And then he sat there, a bear of a man. And the tears flow.