“Ketching up” with Ronnie Dejohn, The Hot Dog chef

“Ketching up” with Ronnie Dejohn, The Hot Dog chef

by Alyssa Gilman   

   Donning a white chef jacket and hat, The Hot Dog Chef, otherwise known as Ronnie Dejohn, can be seen almost daily on Martine Avenue. After serving treats for the past 11 years, The Hot Dog Chef has become a community staple.

   Before working with his hot dog cart, Dejohn was in the construction field, working on large power plants in New Jersey and New York.

   Dejohn used to live in Linden, New Jersey, where another man sold food from a hot dog cart after retiring from construction. Seeing his success, Dejohn decided to start a similar practice in Scotch Plains to keep busy after retirement. He got his own hot dog cart and coined his new title,“The Hot Dog Chef”. “I used to watch a lot of different cooking shows, but I never saw a hot dog chef. It’s something different,” said Dejohn.

   While his food cart is a popular spot for members of the nearby Highland and Willow Grove swim clubs, it attracts a wide range of customers. Dejohn will even deliver food directly to the car of road-side customers.    “[The hot dogs] are definitely much better than any hot dogs sold at similar places in New York,” said sophomore Erin Schetelich.

   Customers can buy a hot dog for $2.00 and choose to add any toppings for no additional cost. Toppings include ketchup, mustard, cheese, sauerkraut, relish, cooked onions, and homemade chili. Dejohn will combine any toppings to fit a customer’s preferences; He adds tobasco or red pepper to his chili for spice-lovers. Also available for purchase are chips for $0.75, water for $1.00 and soda cans for $1.50.

   Customers can find Dejohn selling food from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. almost every day throughout the year. He takes some time off once it starts to snow around Christmas time, but is usually back outside ready for business on March 1st.

   A customer favorite in the summer is a hot dog with ketchup, while chili becomes a popular topping during the colder months. With how much time Dejohn has dedicated to this practice, his presence is well-known throughout Scotch Plains and Fanwood. “I think it’s encouraging for the youth that he is still an entrepreneur and runs his own business,” said senior Kayla Brady.

   The Hot Dog Chef’s customers seem to be the most rewarding part of his job. “I like meeting people. I get in a lot of conversation,” said Dejohn.

   He enjoys the younger side of his customer demographic, even keeping lollipops as a treat for the kids who stop by.

   Charisma and spirited service mark The Hot Dog Chef and his cart as a town gem.