With the sun slowly crawling out of its hole, foodies around the city are rejoicing the return of food trucks. There are a lot of changes, new additions and locations this time around, and we really wanted to dig deep and get everything you need to know for this year, so we caught up with Melissa Simard, the Owner of food tour company Round Table Food Tours. Not only does she host thematic tasting expeditions to restaurants, food production sites, specialized grocery stores and culinary academies, but she also created the Montreal food truck cycle tour – the ultimate meals on wheels experience.
When did the food truck season officially launch this year?
The food truck season officially started on May 1st, although the 1ers vendredi du mois where they all get together at the Olympic Park, was on May 2nd. They also do catering and events all year.
There seems to be some challenges facing food trucks this year…
There are many challenges facing the food trucks; there are 50 of them and only 30 chosen by the city. Some that were part of the pilot project last year no longer are this year. The spots are mainly in parks, schools and business districts, but they still aren’t allowed in places like Saint-Catherine Street or Mount-Royal where there is a huge volume of people. Another challenge they face is the misperception that what they sell is expensive. It is all homemade with an emphasis on local ingredients, and they are selling it for the same price as McDonald’s sells their food, which makes their profit margin very low… yet some say it is too expensive. They have also been called “too fancy” by some, but they are trying to make gourmet food for the masses affordable. Unfortunately often people just will buy things like poutine, hamburgers, and hot dogs. Many that tried to promote healthier food had to adjust to heavier, more caloric foods. Yet for others, they find it is too meaty and starchy of an offer, so they have to cater to that crowd too. They walk a tight line. There is always the over-arching insecurity of it being just a “pilot project” with the city, the stressful and often discouraging process of selection, and the insecurity teamed with participation fees for being at events. They are also scheduled from 7am to 10:30pm at a spot, but they probably won’t make money half of that time, so that is a problem they’ll have to figure out. Because there are many more trucks, the application was more rigorous and less personal and trucks could only supply documents and photos for the first round of applications. They had to get to the second round to get the committee to taste.
What’s new and exciting?
There are new spots this year at Concordia, Dawson, le quartier de santé, place d’armes, amongst other new spots. The Zeste TV food truck, Pas de Cochon dans Mon Salon, switched from a trailer to a truck so they could be part of the city’s project. They serve the best pulled pork sandwich; Zoe’s Sandwicherie is making an eggroll-style spanakopita; Ta Pies based out of NDG does New Zealand and Australian Pies, Indian, cupcakes and doughnuts. Some of these offers are not part of the city’s project, but just part of the larger offer.
Any specific trucks that we should be excited about?
Le TukTuk is working on a very traditional Thai dish that people have not seen before. Zoe’s grilled halloumi sandwich with figs is taking the world by storm, Smoothfruit has added soups and cold soups to their repertoire, Nomade S06 is serving their sausages with bread and commercializing their them. Winneburger has added the Chicago dog.
What festivals or events can you recommend if our readers want to experience a lot of these trucks in one spot?
Les 1ers vendredi du mois or 1st Fridays has all of the food trucks at the Olympic Park (Sun Life terrase). This was inspired by similar events in the US. Otherwise, on my tour you will eat at and learn about six food trucks cycling on the Lachine Canal, Old Montreal and Downtown. Burn those calories and taste a plethora guilt-free while seeing the sites.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)
Cover image: Gaufrabec
Collage of food image: Montreal Street Food
TukTuk image: Mélanie Dusseault Photographe: www.melaniedusseault.com