The pandemic has put the brakes on many aspects of our food culture, but it hasn’t completely slowed entrepreneurial spirit when it comes to food trucks. While some of the trucks from last season may not return this summer, there are a number of new additions to the food-truck circuit – in some cases their appearance spurred on by the realities and changes created by Covid-19. Here is a short guide to some of the new food trucks and the people operating them.
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Humble but unique
Berlin 95 food truck owner-operator Christina Schal is about to debut a humble but unique addition to her food truck family: she’s adding a trailer she calls “Our Humble Little Food Truck.”
“It’s a different concept altogether,” according to Schal, who said that as soon as she saw it, she knew she had to have it. “It’s a trailer that will be pulled, but it also has a different purpose in that it will go out and serve mostly desserts. Bubble waffles, apple fritters, ice cream sandwiches.”
Aptly named, the Humble is smaller than the usual food truck and was built with a lower window that has a wooden counter, which Schal describes as having “a very urban look.” In addition to its facility as a mobile kitchen for serving desserts, it can function as a catering kitchen as well, she says. “People can book it and rent it for a banquet, as a bar, or as an extra kitchen. I think that makes it unique.”
As the food truck season kicks off – depending on weather and eventual loosening of pandemic restrictions – look for Our Humble Little Food Truck to be in service starting in mid-May or by the end of May, Schal says.
Tacos have been a hot commodity for several years: people, it seems, just can’t get enough of them. Having moved from Toronto about three years ago, Waterloo Region-based Jose Delgado was well aware of the solid taco popularity that’s out there, so he opened his Los Rolling Tacos truck just this year.“This is my first food truck,” explains Delgado, who has spent many years in the hospitality industry. “I’ve always wanted to have one.”
Open and up-and-running, Los Rolling Tacos – as you might guess specializing in tacos – fills a gap as a venue, either bricks-and-mortar or food truck, that sells mainly tacos. To boot, Delgado is drawing on his family history. “I decided I’d start doing tacos partly because I have some good recipes from my grandmother. That’s inspired me to do this.”
Most of 2020 was spent building his taco repertoire and experimenting with best taco practices and getting his recipe ratios correct. “It was make-and-fail, make-and-fail,” Delgado says with a laugh. “There was a lot of trial and error, and my family grew tired of eating tacos every week.”
To the front of the line jumps the popular birria taco, a hot taco these days, and Delgado makes his version with locally sourced brisket, chuck and adobo flavouring. “It’s from Jalisco, in the north,” he says. “It’s popular when you’ve had a really bad night when maybe you’ve had too much to drink,” he notes. Traditionally made with lamb or goat, expensive proteins here he says, Delgado has gone with beef instead.
Also on the menu is tacos al pastor, traditionally slow spit-roasted meat that is popular in Mexico City. Los Rolling Tacos prepares it with pork shoulder in a sweet and tangy pineapple marinade with charred pineapple, onion and cilantro. In Baja, you’ll find shrimp tacos, and so Delgado has camarones with roasted red peppers, red onion and cheese.
Look for a pibil taco, from the Yucatan, as well as gluten-free and vegan options. He has guacamole and calls his three salsas his “signature salsas” which are assigned duty for specific tacos on the menu.
“We will have more tacos eventually, but I’m just starting out,” Delgado says about his roll out in the region. “Right now I’m by myself on the truck, and it’s getting busy.”
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The Funnel Cloud swirls onto the scene
Alex Fegaras recently switched from his Cibo Streetery trailer to a 20-ft. food truck called The Funnel Cloud, a company he recently purchased and has rebranded as a mobile business.
“The truck gives me a lot more mobility on a day-to-day basis and makes it easier to head out on the road throughout Waterloo Region than with hitching up a trailer,” Fegaras says.
While he will retain some of Cibo’s Italian dishes for catering functions, Fegaras has done the savoury, he says, and is heading into sweet terrain now: what he calls a few different “high-end fritters,” funnel cakes, lemonade and ice cream will be on board the truck. “There will be some special nights where we do the Cibo deep-fried lasagna,” he adds.
Fegaras makes a from-scratch batter, pours it into a ring mold in a shallow fry in concentric circles and cooks it until it’s puffy and light. “The perfect funnel cake is one that’s a single giant piece so that as you tear it you get all the toppings and textures,” he says. “It’s sort of like a good doughnut.”
The cakes might be topped with candied bacon and tangerine or one with Nutella, Score candy-bar bits and chocolate sauce and more. “Anything that can go on a doughnut can go on a funnel cake,” Fegaras says. And he says he’s working a new technique: “it’s centrifugal force needed to make a deep cone shape – like a funnel cloud.”
One unique aspect of the business is its partnership with long-time food and restaurant entrepreneur – and now farmer – Bryan Izzard and his Two Calves Standing farm in New Hamburg. “We have future plans which will include using the products from the farm on a truck,” says Fegaras.
For now, local produce will come into play soon, according to Fegaras. “When the strawberry fritters are out, I think those will be our number-one seller.”
Look for The Funnel Cloud to be breezing to a location near you by mid-May.
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Coffee on the move
During the pandemic, Sarah Renner turned from library sciences to a favourite comfort of her own from “the before times:” visiting a local coffee shop for a brew and a sweet. That being more difficult to do now, she created her own shop.
“I’m brand new to the food truck scene with Little Tree Wandering Café, which is a mobile coffee shop that features locally sourced coffee, tea drinks and baked goods. For ingredients, I’ve really been focusing on using area farmers and producers as much as possible,” Renner says.
Referring to the mobile unit as a “catering pod,” Renner will operate it on her own, she says, adding that it’s a self-contained unit with an espresso machine and its own water supply.
During the lockdown, she researched the possibilities and made the leap – a common pivot among both people and businesses prompted by the pandemic. She bakes muffins (such as blueberry-lemon and coffee cake), scones and cookies out of a commercial kitchen. “Inside the Wandering Café, I will have some fresh drip coffees, espresso-based drinks, a couple of teas and hot chocolate. Again, products come from local businesses,” she says.
Why coffee and muffins? “I originally was thinking about a bricks-and-mortar coffee shop, but with Covid and the restrictions we are in, I stepped instead into the mobile unit,” she says. “It was appealing because I can take it anywhere.”
She notes that she want a different truck experience for her customers. “There are lots of amazing savoury trucks, but I’m a coffee-shop girl and always have been. During Covid, I’ve missed being able to go and sit in my favourite local coffee shop and have a muffin. I hoping to be able to supply that experience but outside of the norm.”
She anticipates being on the roll a few times a week beginning later in May and is talking with a Galt and Hespeler property owner about being a regular rotating pop-up breakfast stop. She will also be joining the KW Food Trucks locations, as well, as far as health unit restrictions allow. When the time is right, Renner says she wants to get into the outdoor festival circuit too.
“I hoping by next summer for that. This is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
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For a daily listing of where you can find Food Trucks in our region, check out KW Food Truck’s Facebook Page
KW Food Trucks Facebook
Want to read more about Waterloo Region Food Trucks? Check out Andrew’s 2020 blog
Waterloo Region Food Trucks
Andrew Coppolino is a writer-broadcaster, and is a food columnist with CBC Radio in Waterloo Region. Following a stint as a cook at a restaurant in Kitchener, Andrew chose to work with food from the other side of the kitchen pass. As a food writer, he is dedicated to promoting and nurturing culinary businesses and advocating for local chefs and restaurants. Andrew’s work has been published in newspapers and magazines across Canada, the United States and England. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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