Hell hath frozen over.
At least that’s how it felt upon hearing that the RMOW is finally jumping headlong into the food truck craze with the launch of Outdoor Eats next month, a small-scale festival that will preview the trucks coming to three of Whistler’s parks this summer.
“Food trucks will be a great addition to Whistler’s park experiences, while also giving the food industry an opportunity for business incubation,” said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden in a municipal release. “We heard through the Recreation and Leisure Master Plan process that people wanted more diversity in the food available at Whistler’s destination parks, and I’m looking forward to seeing the program roll out this summer.”
Between noon and 4 p.m. on April 1, seven food trucks will set up shop in the Upper Village, selling sample-sized portions of their fresh-made eats. Admission is free.
Outdoor Eats offers a tantalizing preview of the food trucks coming to Lost Lake, Rainbow and Spruce Grove parks from July 1 to Sept. 5. One truck will be stationed in each park every day.
OK, time to get to the good stuff. What delectable eats will be on offer this summer? I’m so glad you asked. The participating vendors are:
• Function Junction-based Paleo meal delivery service Caveman Grocer, which will offer healthy options that showcase “the local produce and proteins from around the Sea to Sky,” said co-founder Kara McMaster. The truck’s specialty is the Pemby Pad Thai made from zucchini noodles and your choice of protein, as well as, wait for it, caramel chocolate-covered bacon bark served with Lucia’s Gelato. Damn. (www.cavemangrocer.com);
• The Smokin’ Buddha, all the way from Port Colborne, ON., specializing in international dips, appetizers and curries as well as a selection of Japanese, Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern classics. (www.thesmokinbuddha.com);
• Carte Diem-Seize the Souvlaki out of Squamish, a truck that dishes out homemade Greek food, including the aforementioned souvlaki served three ways (I have it on good authority that Carte Diem makes the best lamb souvlaki this side of the Aegean), salads, falafel and spanakopita. (www.cartediem.ca);
• Dups Burritos, the locals’ favourite Mexican joint that has been rolling the Phatties going on 10 years. In case you’re not already acquainted, Dups offers everything from their namesake burritos to tacos, enchiladas, chimichongas and nachos. (www.dupsburritos.com);
• The Schnitzel Shack, also out of Squamish, a family-run operation with a focus on stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods just like momma used to make. The menu features its famous schnitzel sandwiches, a variation on the iconic Philly cheesesteak (there will also be a vegetarian version served with two kinds of mushrooms), homemade sausage, mac and cheese, cold salads, and more. (www.facebook.com/theschnitzelshack);
• Cheeses Crust, a food truck that, true to its name, serves up gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, along with fresh-made lemonades. Its signature is the decadent and explosive sounding Bacon Bomb. (www.cheesescrust.ca);
• Good Mood Food, a family-owned and operated truck out of Whistler producing all natural, gourmet pierogies and handmade, dairy-free artisan veggie and fruit bars.
There has been much talk in the past around food trucks in Whistler. Word on the street is that local bylaws and pushback from the restaurant sector has kept the village a truck-free zone all this time. So bringing them to Whistler’s parks — something the municipality first tried in a pilot project last summer — with its steady flow of pedestrian traffic and dearth of food options, seems to make perfect sense.
“I think (the park program) is a good middle ground and keeps us away from the other restaurants,” said Carte Diem’s Karen Shard, who expects adding food trucks to Whistler’s dining scene will up the level of competition here.
“There’s always going to be that argument between brick and mortar and food trucks, but I think when competition is good, and you’re doing what you think is best for business and providing the best service and the best food at the best prices, bring on the competition and let the customer decide.”
While some larger Canadian urban centres initially dragged their feet, food trucks are now ubiquitous in metropolises like Vancouver and Toronto, and typically drive innovation in the culinary world.
“Vancouver has had a program open for quite a few years allowing more and more food trucks on the road, so you have to bring out unique food to survive in Vancouver,” said Mihaela Boaru, who runs The Schnitzel Shack with her husband. “Especially when there are so many tourists here in Whistler, it only makes sense to provide food from all over the world.”
Diners are invited to give feedback on this summer’s food truck program at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the program is a success, it could return in 2017.
Visit whistler.ca/foodtrucks for more information.