Recap: Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

What the Truck?! has always been at the mercy of the elements, and this was no more evident than on Thursday. Boyle Street Plaza played host to our second Truck Stop of the year, a burger-themed event. And though the forecast had been beautiful in the days leading up to Thursday, that evening was incredibly windy and mostly overcast.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

Boyle Street Plaza

On the bright side, the lines were short, so it was perfect for folks looking for a quick dinner fix before heading off to make the most of their summer evening.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

A break in the clouds

Among the three trucks present (one had to pull out due to mechanical difficulties) was Funky Mango, a Fort Saskatchewan-based truck who specializes in burgers. Mack and I had the Kahuna and the Thai shrimp burger, respectively, and found them to be very good. The latter in particular was very unique, with a handmade shrimp patty, impeccably seasoned, topped with a smattering of peanuts and served in a soft bun.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

Thai shrimp burger

We were happy to have Now Radio’s Trucksicle on site, complementing the savoury menus with a free sweet treat.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

The ice cream men

Our organizing team also debuted our new volunteer t-shirts on Thursday! It’ll now be easy to find us, if you have a question while you’re on-site.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

Just look for the blue and yellow!

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share at least one picture of the cutest puppy to venture down to the plaza that day: Lemons, a four-month old corgi. Couldn’t you see him as our animal mascot?

Lemons!

Lemons!

Thanks again to the City of Edmonton and the Boyle Street Community League for your support! Our next What the Truck?! will be taking place on Saturday, August 16, 2014. Check back on our website for more information closer to the date!

Recap: Truck Stop @ Baconfest

Last Friday, a glorious summer evening, What the Truck?! partnered with the inaugural Baconfest to host a bacon-themed Truck Stop.

Truck Stop at BaconFest

Baconfest Truck Stop

Six trucks, all offering sinful, bacon-filled menus, parked outside the Arts Barns to serve their sweet and savoury concoctions. I loved the creativity, from SoCal Smoothie’s bacon milkshake to Big City Sandwich’s mysteriously named bacon magic cheeseurger.

Truck Stop at BaconFest

Smokehouse BBQ

It was great to have several vendors new to What the Truck?!, including SoCal Smoothies and Keilan’s Creamery. Keilan’s primarily serves ice creams from Foothills Creamery, but also sources from a local small-batch ice cream maker who brings unique flavours (and then some) to the market – such as bacon bourbon, maple bacon and Guinness vanilla.

Truck Stop at BaconFest

Keilan’s Creamery

This was one of our quieter events this season; I think we weren’t able to overcome some of the confusion as to whether or not our Truck Stop required a ticket for admission. Still, those who attended seemed to have a great time, and the short lines meant folks were able to dabble in dishes from multiple vendors!

Truck Stop

Amanda and her poutine from The Local Omnivore

I personally was able to enjoy a few dishes, the most memorable being the Peruvian Pan Con Chicharron (braised & pan seared rib meat, pan seared pork belly, fried sweet potato slices & salsa criolla in a French bun). It was easily one of the best things I’ve ever had from Molly’s Eats – I loved the crispy, flavourful meat and the crunchy bun.

Truck Stop

Peruvian Pan Con Chicharron from Molly’s Eats

The tangy peach sorbet from Keilan’s was a refreshing way to end to the scorching day. It seemed that almost everyone indulged in the cool treat too.

Truck Stop

Felicia enjoys two scoops of coconut ice cream from Keilan’s

Edmonton Public Library was on-site, signing people up for free memberships. And in a What the Truck?! first, there were a handful of peaceful protesters present all night, encouraging people to refrain from eating meat. I suspect they were mostly there because of the media attention attracted by Baconfest, but I hope none of the Truck Stop attendees felt intimidated.

Truck Stop at BaconFest

I heart EPL, too!

I’d like to also recognize the Old Strathcona Business Association and Baconfest for partnering with us on this event.

If you missed the Truck Stop, you’re in luck, we we’re hosting another one this Thursday, July 10, from 5-8pm at the Boyle Street Plaza. This time, the menus are burger-themed, so bring your appetite and come hungry!

Recap: Truck Stop in The Quarters

We usually avoid organizing What the Truck?! events in July because of how busy the Edmonton event calendar gets in the middle of summer, but the Boyle Renaissance Plaza venue was too good to pass up. It was an opportunity for food trucks to animate an area that should be more visible and appreciated, and we were happy that Edmontonians responded with a good turnout, in spite of several concurrent festivals.

Truck Stop: The Quarters

Perfect weather for food trucks!

Though we estimate that a total of 1,000 people came through that evening, about 100 took a tour of the new facility, explored the community centre and learned about the programs offered by the YMCA.

Truck Stop: The Quarters

Boyle Street Plaza

Those who attended may have noticed some coloured coupons floating around that day. The Boyle Street Community League had stepped up to purchase vouchers that were distributed to low-income residents and community members so that finances would not be a barrier to partaking in the event. We were floored by their generosity and inclusivity.

Truck Stop: The Quarters

Gorgeous green space

City of Edmonton staff were on hand to provide face painting to children and adults alike, and Virgin Radio provided the soundtrack for the evening.

Truck Stop: The Quarters

Mindy Cooper of Virgin Radio

Mack and I also made sure to line-up before the crowds gathered (good thing too, given three of the trucks sold out!). We were able to share the green curry chicken sandwich from Swich and the pulled pork poutine from La Poutine. Yum!

Swich

Green curry chicken sandwich

La Poutine

Pulled pork poutine

Thanks to everyone who came out! We’ll be announcing the details of our next What the Truck?! event taking place in August next week. Stay tuned!

Recap: Ginger Beef Throwdown

Last Friday, we kicked off our 2013 What the Truck?! season with a Ginger Beef Throwdown. Partnering with the Royal Alberta Museum , the event was organized in conjunction with the current Chop Suey on the Prairies exhibit, which examines the history of Chinese restaurants in our province in the twentieth century.

Although we knew the event would draw a crowd, we never anticipated the sheer number of early birds that staked out a place in line well before the start time. The glorious weather definitely helped, as did the scheduling just before the long weekend, but most of all, I think it speaks to the fact that Edmontonians love food trucks!

Truck Stop: Ginger Beef Throwdown

The line

I have already written about the rationale for our food ticketing system and the “intentional bottleneck” that we created, and in spite of fielding many complaints, I don’t think we could have done it any other way. Given the constraints of the museum space, as well as a desire to streamline food access to enable sampling of multiple dishes, we were happy with how things worked out overall. That said, we could have done a better job in communicating the reasoning behind the system – hopefully those that left hungry and frustrated will give future What the Truck?! events another chance.

Truck Stop: Ginger Beef Throwdown

Controlled chaos

It also bears saying that the trucks just rocked it that night. They pumped out servings like nobody’s business, and continued to push the limits of their capacity. Thanks to The Act , Bully, The Lingnan Express and Smokehouse BBQ for a memorable start to the season!

Truck Stop: Ginger Beef Throwdown

The trucks

As for the food, while we didn’t vote ourselves (The Lingnan took home the crown), we were able to sample Bully’s BLT and The Lingnan’s traditional ginger beef. After the craziness, they really hit the spot! For a more comprehensive look at the dishes that night, check out Teresa and Diane’s posts.

Truck Stop: Ginger Beef Throwdown

Bully’s BLT and The Lingnan’s ginger beef

Partnerships have been vital to What the Truck?! from the beginning, so we appreciated the opportunity to work with the Royal Alberta Museum for the first time. With over 400 people who checked out the exhibit that night, it was counted as a definite success for the RAM!

Without question, this was our most labour-intensive event to date, as we not only had to facilitate the food tickets, but also drink sales. Because of these responsibilities, we could not have run the event on our own, and were indebted to the generosity of our volunteers. Thanks to my Mum, Dad, Felicia, Caleng, Linda, Phil and Robyn for all of your help!

Lastly, thanks to everyone who came – we hope you had fun! We are already in the throes of planning for the next What the Truck?!, which will take place south of the river in June. Stay tuned for more details next week!

Truck Stop: Ginger Beef Throwdown

It’s finally starting to feel like summer, and you know what that means – food truck season! Mack and I are still in the midst of finalizing the What the Truck?! calendar for the year, but we’re excited to announce our first 2013 Truck Stop, taking place next week!

What: Ginger Beef Throwdown
When: May 17, 2013
Time: 5-8pm
Where: Royal Alberta Museum, 12845 102 Avenue

Our Pulled Pork Throwdown was so well received last year that we didn’t hesitate when the Royal Alberta Museum approached us earlier this year with an idea to partner on an event.

To celebrate the RAM’s newest exhibit, Chop Suey on the Prairies, this Truck Stop will serve up different versions of ginger beef-inspired dishes, a staple on Chinese restaurant menus across the prairies in the early twentieth century. The Act Out & About, Bully Food Truck, The Lingnan Express and Smokehouse BBQ will be throwing down the gauntlet and doing their best to earn your vote. Four trucks, four dishes. You decide who made it best.

Ginger Beef

The Lingnan’s ginger beef

The museum will be open until 8pm that night so attendees can visit Chop Suey on the Prairies. Admission will be by donation (the rest of the RAM will be closed). This Truck Stop will be a great opportunity to not only taste some unique interpretations of a classic Chinese-Albertan dish, but to also explore some of the roots of our ethnic Prairie cuisine.

Check back on the What the Truck?! website on Monday for menus. Hope to see you there!

Recap: Truck Stop – Pulled Pork Throwdown!

On August 15, 2012, What the Truck?! held its ever Truck Stop: Throwdown Edition. We didn’t know what the turnout would be like, given it was scheduled on a Wednesday in a packed summer calendar. But we were fortunate to have glorious weather, great coverage in anticipation of the event, and partnership with a wonderful charity.

Pulled Pork Throwdown

Behind the Archives

As mentioned in a previous post, the competition aspect of this Truck Stop had been born from the reality that certain items commonly appeared on the menus of trucks. We were thrilled when The Act, Nomad and Smokehouse BBQ embraced our idea, and agreed to put their pulled pork pride on the line for a good cause.

Pulled Pork Throwdown

Vote for your favourite!

Given we were holding the event at the Edmonton Public Schools Archives, the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation was a natural fit. But more than that, their support for early learning initiatives and full-day kindergarten, vital to getting “bean sprouts” (as Director Sandra Woitas calls them) off on the right track, is without a doubt a worthy charity.

Pulled Pork Throwdown

Dick Mather Park, adjacent to the Archives

Diners were free to try as few or as many sliders as they wanted for $4 a pop, while the opportunity to vote for their favourite required a $2 donation to the Foundation.

The liens grew fast and furiously, but the mood was light, and the crowds seemed to be enjoying the sunshine. We even had some food truck veterans drop by, happy to be on the other side of the window for a change!

Pulled Pork Throwdown

Kara and Nevin of Drift

In the end, The Act took home the prize, earning the most votes from discerning diners.

Pulled Pork Throwdown

The Act’s winning slider

But no question, with a total of $1800 raised (from a combination of donations from voters and the trucks), the real winners of the evening are the school children who will be supported by the Foundation’s work. A big thanks to the Edmonton Public Schools Archive for permitting us the use of their parking lot, the three trucks who were a part of our inaugural Throwdown Edition, and the team at Edmonton Public Schools for being a great partner.

And if you missed this Truck Stop, not to worry – you can look forward to our final What the Truck?! of the season next week. On September 8, 2012, a dozen trucks will be colonizing Churchill Square from 5-9pm. More details here.

Introducing Truck Stop: Throwdown Edition

Mack and I were looking at ways to enhance our Truck Stop events (our smaller What the Truck?! series featuring 3-4 trucks). Typically, we request that participating trucks send us their menus in advance so we are able to vet them for duplication. We know food festivals thrive on variety, so if trucks do have similar items, we have asked them to swap those items out in the past.

But recently, we were thinking – why couldn’t we use this duplication to our advantage? Why not throw a bit of friendly competition into the mix? And with that, Truck Stop: Throwdown Edition was born.

Pulled pork is one of the most common food truck items, so we asked if three of those purveyors, The Act, Nomad and Smokehouse BBQ, would be a part of this Truck Stop experiment. We were thrilled when they agreed. Pork might be a common element between their creations, but their preparations and techniques vary. Truck Stop: Throwdown Edition will seek to answer the question: which truck is the king of pulled pork?

What: Truck Stop: Throwdown Edition
When: Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Where: Edmonton Public Schools Archives (10425 99 Avenue)
Time: 5-8pm

All three trucks will be serving up slider-sized portions of their pulled pork, so you’ll have enough room to consider all three if you so choose.

For your consideration:

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #13

The Act

Nomad

Nomad

Smokehouse BBQ

Smokehouse BBQ

To vote, we ask that you donate at least $2 to the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation in exchange for a ballot. Given the location of this event, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to partner with a charity with a great cause – learn more about how the Foundation supports early learning and full-day kindergarten here.

EPSB Archives & Museum

Dick Mather Park

Dick Mather Park, adjacent to the Edmonton Public Schools Archives, also happens to be one of my favourite parks (I love gazebos), so I think this will be another great opportunity for folks to have an urban picnic in the heart of the city. Hope to see you there!

One Last Hurrah: Old Strathcona Truck Stop

Our final Truck Stop in Old Strathcona took place last Wednesday. Mack and I nervously watched the skies all day, as it had started off rainy and overcast, but thankfully, the grey mostly cleared by the time the trucks pulled up at McIntyre Park.

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona - June 27

The sun was shining!

The crowds weren’t as robust as those that were seen towards the end of May, but a fair number (including many young families) came out to enjoy a casual picnic in the park. A band, Yikes, were also on hand to lend some music to the event (we were told that music programming will be consistent on Wednesdays throughout the summer).

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona - June 27

Lounging in the grass

We recognize that the June series of Truck Stops weren’t as successful as the preceding May dates. Weather played a big factor, and because McIntyre had been booked by another group on June 20, we weren’t able to make it known that “every Wednesday in June” would play host to the event.

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona - June 27

Mack’s calzone from Battista’s

That said, as a whole, we think the venture of What the Truck?! across the river had been very well received! Though we suspected the appetite for food trucks in Edmonton wasn’t just confined to downtown, the response to these Truck Stops proved that. It was also wonderful working with Stephen Liley of the Old Strathcona Business Association and Kathy Stanley, the City’s Vending Coordinator, who helped make this series happen.

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona - June 27

Great day for food trucks

As for the rest of the summer, we’ll be retiring Truck Stops for at least a month. Many events in Edmonton’s packed festival calendar will feature members of our local brigade (including Curb Your Hunger at Taste of Edmonton), not to mention the outdoor farmers’ markets where trucks have become a staple to feed hungry shoppers (124 Street Grand Market and the City Market, just to name a few). And don’t forget – many trucks are out and about every day – just check their Twitter feeds for details!

Mack and I are in the process of organizing two big What the Truck?! events to take place before the close of summer, however. We will announce the dates and locations when they are confirmed. In the meantime, keep on truckin’!

Truck Stops in Old Strathcona: The Kickoff!

The first of five Truck Stops, our mini-What the Truck?! food truck festivals, was held tonight at McIntyre Park in Old Strathcona. Mack and I joked that between these five events and the several larger WTT festivals planned for this summer, we’re bound by the law of numbers to run into a calm, sunny day.

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

Truck Stop

But thankfully, in spite of the weather, many hearty Edmontonians came out to enjoy food from Drift, Eva Sweet, Fat Franks and Molly’s Eats. Drift and Molly’s even sold out of a few items!

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

The line-up at Drift

McIntyre Park really is an ideal location for food trucks – there is ample seating, a bit of rain cover in the form of a gazebo, and some grassy space. As with the two What the Truck?! events last year, Mack and I were happy to see that some people brought their children to the event.

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

McIntyre Park

The Park is also bordered by a busy thoroughfare, with great visibility. I have to say I was secretly hoping some of the drivers in the passing cars might rethink their destination and come check out all of the activity on the street.

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

Parked curbside!

In many ways, because it was less busy than some of our previous events, Mack and I were actually able to sample from all of the vendors! For example, we are rarely able to visit Drift at their downtown location during the day, so it was great to have the chance to finally try their falafel sandwich with a manageable line to boot!

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

Drift’s Falafel sandwich (delicious!)

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

Fries duo from Molly’s Eats (so crispy)

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

Huevos rancheros from Molly’s Eats (loved the crispy tortillas and the runny egg)

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

A meal is not complete without a waffle from Eva Sweet

We really want to thank the Old Strathcona Business Association for their help in arranging these Truck Stops. Their enthusiasm and financial support is much appreciated.

Truck Stop in Old Strathcona

With Stephen Liley of the OSBA

But wait, we’re not done yet – there are still four more Truck Stops to go! Join us for more street eats every Thursday from 5-9pm in May. There will be a different line-up of trucks each time, so you’ll never have to have the same meal twice! We’ll be updating the website every Sunday with the list of vendors for the coming Thursday. Hope to see you there!

Check out Mack’s photoset here.

Announcing: Truck Stops in Old Strathcona!

Although Mack and I are stalwart supporters of downtown, we also wanted to spread the food truck festivals to other neighbourhood as well. So we are thrilled to announce a series of Truck Stops (our mini What the Truck?! festivals) that will be taking place in Old Strathcona.

Every Thursday from 5-9 p.m. in May, you’ll be guaranteed great eats at McIntyre Park, where four trucks will be serving up dishes both savoury and sweet.

What: Truck Stop
Where: McIntyre Park, 8303 104 Street
When: May 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31, 2012
Time: 5-9 p.m.

The line up of trucks will change from week to week, but most of the vendors you are familiar with from farmers’ markets, festivals and street side will be represented this month. There will also be a few new trucks who will be debuting at Truck Stop later in the month, including Battista’s Calzones and The Next Act.

On deck this Thursday, May 3: Drift, Eva Sweet, Fat Franks and Molly’s Eats. A menu will be posted on the What the Truck?! website on Wednesday at the latest, so check back for updates.

Thanks to the Old Strathcona Business Association for their support in getting this off the ground!

Hope to see you there!

Check out our What the Truck?! website here, or follow us on Facebook.