In under a year, Fidel Gastro’s has gone from pop-up sandwich shop to full blown food truck.
Entrepreneur Matt Basile began serving up his ‘extremo sandwiches’ to the people of Toronto last November when he popped up for the first time in a tiny rental space on Tecumseth Street.
Since then, he’s gone on to become a staple at the Toronto Underground Market and favourite among Toronto foodies not only for his food, but also for his friendly and boisterous personality, shouting ‘Olé’ wherever he goes.
And if that wasn’t enough, he’s now filming the first season of his new reality TV show, Rebel Without a Kitchen, which chronicles his transition from pop-up to food truck.
Basile, who used to work in advertising, got into the food business because he wasn’t satisfied with his 9-5 job and felt that creating food for the people was his calling.
Realizing that starting a restaurant was going to be too financially prohibitive and risky, he decided to become one of Toronto’s first pop-up food businesses.
The ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ nature of a pop-up allows entrepreneurs to minimize risk and financial investment while still being able to test their menu concepts and start to grow a base of customers and fans through their food and with social media.
Basile was able to use the pop-up model to make a name for himself and make a business case for launching the truck.
His sandwich focused menu features slow cooked meats with various toppings.
“Our two most popular sandwiches right now are the ‘Sloppy José’, which is a braised brisket, baked bean and roasted corn aioli sandwich – and our ‘Sgt. Slather’ sandwich, which has pulled pork with homemade BBQ sauce, guacamole and crushed tortilla chips”, explains Basile.
Now that he has the truck, Basile also plans to role out some new items such as a fish and chip sandwich he’s calling ‘The London Fog’.
“I’m pretty excited about it. It will just be easier to pull off on the truck with deep fryers on board.”
He also plans to bring back some of his rarer sandwiches that he’s done in the past like the ‘Olé!, Olé!, Olé!’ – a poutine-bacon sandwich and his ‘La Senorita’ sandwich which is a turkey chili and jalapeno popper combination.
In addition to his sandwiches, Basile intends to roll out some non-sandwich items on the truck. He told us he’s planning a ‘French Fry Pad Thai’ which uses french fries instead of noodles and pulled pork instead of chicken.
Another new dish is what he’s calling the ‘Gorgeous Jorgé’ which is a peanut butter braised pulled pork with bacon jam and pigskin crackling.
Basile sees Fidel Gastros as a food experience company and for him, the truck is just the latest spoke in the wheel.
You can catch Fidel Gastros tomorrow on Front St. just West of Bay St. from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. as well as all weekend at the CNE’s Food Truck Frenzy.