Stories of career-changers looking to make a buck in the food industry are a dime a dozen at the National Restaurant Association show, which opened Saturday at McCormick Place. Here's just one:
Canadian Bruce Gibson was, at one time, a banker. Five years ago, he got fired. He started a concessions business in Ontario, Gibbys Grill (two locations strong now), got his three boys -- all nicknamed Gibby -- his wife and other relatives involved.
They started getting a reputation for their fresh-cut fries. Rather than rest on those starchy laurels, Gibson set about developing a signature item that would pair well with the fries. Thus was born the $5 Gibby Dog, a seven-inch, pork and beef wiener stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon and deep-fried.
Last week, he opened a factory that will mass-produce frozen Gibby Dogs for distribution to restaurants, stadiums and the like.
"Honestly, if I'm not the talk of the show...," Gibson said as a steady stream of people whisked toothpick-impaled slices of Gibby Dogs from a tray at his booth Saturday.
Gibson isn't divulging the intricacies of how the bacon adheres to the dog, or how the cheese doesn't ooze all over the place while it undergoes the hot oil bath. The risk he took introducing the product in such a hot dog-educated town as Chicago wasn't lost on him.
"Chicagoans love their hot dog but they've been very gracious and receptive to the Gibby Dog," he said. (Bruce, it's called free food -- only .005 percent of trade show attendees pass it up).
The Gibby Dog can be deep-fried, oven-baked or microwaved.