From poutine burgers to mac and cheese balls, Torontonians chowed down on some of the best street food Ontario had to offer at the first Food Truck Festival Ontario on Sunday.
“Ontario curbside cuisine has become some of the very best in North America,” event organizer Stev Baycetich said. “The idea behind the food truck festival is to bring the finest and most delicious food trucks together in one place, for one day, so that food fans can try every taste.”
Hundreds of hungry foodies headed to Ontario Place to sample the menus of 17 different food trucks. Vendors dished out a variety of foods such as pulled pork hotdogs, international-inspired meals, fried rice balls and “naanchos,” a combination of naan bread and nachos.
“I think [the reception] is awesome! Everyone is happy, it feels like summer still and the food truck line ups are incredible,” Baycetich said. “I really hope the trucks continue with their innovation. You have so many trucks putting out such unique combinations of food; they’re really turning food into the rock star.”
While the festival-goers seemed happy, the same cannot be said for some food truck owners who are currently struggling with the city’s food truck laws.
Some owners complained that, while Toronto city council relaxed food truck bylaws in April, it still poses strict restrictions on operating downtown.
“The license is too expensive,” said Ahmed Duale, owner of Kal & Mooy, a truck serving Somalian-inspired food. “I looked around in many cities in the US and in Canada and there is nothing like it.”
A food truck permit allows owners to park anywhere curbside in Toronto, as long as the food truck is 50 metres away from another restaurant.
However, some owners, such as Bryan Siu-Chong, founder of Me.n.u food truck, say they still get complaints from other hot dog and food court owners even though he makes sure to keep his distance.
“One time they called the city on us,” Siu-Chong said. “But the city official came and measured with a measuring tape and we were fine.”
Despite the strict bylaws, both food truck owners hope to be a part of the festival again next year.
“We hope to build this into an annual event and to get bigger and bigger,” Baycetich said. “We’re looking to moving it around Ontario, going to different cities to showcase Ontario’s curbside cuisine.”