Artists don’t wait for approval, permits or government sanctions — they paint, snap, create and push the envelope. This weekend saw food artists do the same with their awesTRUCK 2012 celebration and competition at the Brickworks.
According to key food truck activist and event organizer, Suresh Doss, this has been 12 years in the making. “Since amalgamation of Toronto’s Mega City, there has been a moratorium on food truck permits and bylaw changes.” (At the moment, events like these are the only way food lovers can see, taste and understand this style of street eats.)
Event co-host Pay Chen explains that food trucks are an underestimated small business art form. “Creating artisan food in a small space with the inherent restrictions of a kitchen on wheels is a challenge that deserves recognition.” Beyond that, they need to design their trucks and create an appealing marketing plan and sell their wares against all odds (and legislation).
The awesTRUCK event is the first of its kind and it sold-out during a week when the city had a lot of TIFF competition. The 600 VIP and 1,000 general admission tickets were gobbled up.
The clear winner, well respected El GastronomoVagabundo, is owned by Australian chef Adam Hynam-Smith and his Canadian partner Tamara Jensen. They pulled in three awards: Best Concept, Best Menu Item and Best Road Warrior.
Hynam-Smith and Jensen have been operating the longest (a mere three years) and appear to be the leaders in this determined, creative and growing group of food truck artisans. Their Fish Taco with smoked pineapple and habanero hot sauce, red cabbage green apple tarragon slaw, toasted coconut sour cream was a big hit.
Finding a food truck to explore and support should get a lot easier in the coming summer if this event speaks for anything. As co-host Michelle Jobin of Global Toronto remarks: “This event will help change the perception that food trucks are all about burgers and fries. Including a visual artist competition ties it all together (competition winner, Racheal McCaig also took the photo on right). The food art inside the trucks, the art on the trucks and the spirit of the movement highlights the genre.”
Doss says that the association is working on an event for Halloween and hoping it will be in the Distillery District, but the best way to get the most up to date information is to join the OntarioFoodTrucks group on Facebook or @ontariofoodtruck on twitter to stay up on the news and find out about future events.
awesTRUCK finalists’ top menu picks:
• El Gastronomo Vagabundo — Fish Taco — Winner!
• Dobro Jesti — Risotto Rice Balls in a bed of marinara
• Gorilla Cheese — El Jefe grilled cheese with ham, pork, pickles and swiss
• Rome’n Chariot — Meatball slider with parsley and basil
• Southern Smoke — Applewood smoked brisket with smoked mac & daddy cheese
• Cupcake Diner — Caramel Apple Cupcake