Make no mistake about it, this article is 100% ego driven. Sometimes even more valuable than the check to keep the lights on is the all important “bragging rights” that come with a confident foreshadowing, and I have the full confidence that one day I am going to be able to say that I knew Jesse and Erin before their first hot dog cart.
Truth be told, I have had Best In Show Hot Dogs on my writing docket since the minute I was gifted the opportunity to write about food in our area. I worked with Jesse at Forbes Mill Steakhouse and listened to Jesses “pipe dream” on numerous occasions. “Oh the things he could do with a pickup truck and a hot dog cart.” We have all heard it before until you find that person years later at a different restaurant, pouring the same drinks, serving the same food, and telling the same story…”oh the things I could have done….” But not Jesse. In the short amount of time since he left the Steakhouse, Jesse Gilbert-LaVere and his other half, Erin Ernst, have realized their dreams by building their product, reputation, and dare I say, empire.
It’s just a hot dog cart you say. I say you are wrong. Best In Show opened in July 2010 with a philanthropic philosophy and a working knowledge of the clients they serve. This mobile duo has exactly what it takes to make it big and they have carefully cultivated their passion to an award winning business venture.
The corner stone of this beef dispensary is their charitable work within our community. They have represented multiple little league organizations, schools, fund raisers, and church events on stages as large as the Oakland Coliseum and every time they do they give 30% of their profits back to the cause they are working for. Best In Show selflessly donated their services and 700 hot dogs to the 9/11 event for San Ramon Fire in 2011. They are the only mobile vending business in the tri-valley to earn a 5 star rating on yelp and work directly with Troops Direct. In a word, they are established, not to mention, they make the best hot dog I have had in years. The kind of flavor that brings you back to a better time and reopens an experience you had as a child.
The cart only serves Evergood Hot Dogs and Sausages including Hot Links, Chicken Apple, and Polish Dogs served on authentic Chicago Poppy Seed Buns, and no cart would be complete without your standard toppings of Ketchup, Mustard and nuclear green Chicago Relish to which Jesse added Chili, Cheese, Sauerkraut, Celery Salt, 2 kinds of peppers and Fried Onions. Further proving that the proverbial finger is on the pulse, Jesse pays attention to the weather, and if the forecast calls for a cooler evening then look for his homemade Southern Style BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches.
Charity is the corner stone, but business smarts drive the success and Jesse can be found outside Meenars Bar in Danville Thursday-Saturday from 10pm-2:14am (smart enough to have a firm quitting time to minimize the challenges that can come from hungry patrons leaving any bar at 2am), but just in time to set up shop Sunday mornings at the Walnut Creek Farmers Market on Locust and Cole.
His team has grown, his equipment has multiplied and his visions continue to soar and Jesse hopes to move his empire indoors soon and is currently shopping for a brick-and-mortar solution (insert potential bragging rights here).
Let me remind you that Burger King, McDonald’s and In-n-Out all started with this American Dream foundation and I have no doubt that Jesse’s generations will be supported by what was once a simple hot dog cart and a man with a dream.
Best In Show Hot Dogs, www.bestinshowhotdogs.com, 925-330-3429