Popular Toronto caterers, Food Dudes, are set to launch a gourmet food truck in mid August.
The plan is to take their globally inspired flavours and adapt them to a street food menu in a truck that’s just arrived from Miami and is fully loaded with plasma tv’s, a satellite dish and custom painted propane tanks that say ‘Sauce’ on them.
They plan to use the truck to take their ‘food driven entertainment’ philosophy to the next level by taking a live video feed of the chefs cooking inside the truck and displaying it on some of the flatscreens so customers can watch.
The truck will also be vegetarian friendly with each dish having it’s own veggie spin.
Food Dudes is a joint effort by owners Adrian Niman, Brent Mcclenahan and chefs Dan Frenette and Dave Mcintyre. Running social media and events for the truck will be Jamie Zuckerman.
Yesterday I sat down with Adrian, Brent and Jamie to talk about the new truck.
TFT: Can you tell us a bit about what Food Dudes is?
Food Dudes: We are a full service catering company located in Toronto that started around seven years ago and we’ve had a lot of growth in the last several years. Our whole concept is bringing energy to the industry. We’re all under the age of 30 – or 30 – there’s a few chefs now that have reached 30, and we’re basically trying to be a leader in the young food movement here in Toronto.
TFT: So what made you guys want to start a food truck and where did the idea come from?
Food Dudes: Well it’s been in our business plan for a while and we were kind of waiting for the laws to change but have decided to move ahead now anyway. When we started to see trucks coming out and tried some of the product, we thought we could bring something new to the table just like with our catering.
The Food Dudes concept is ‘food driven entertainment’ which came from our parties where we noticed that a lot of people would start talking about the food so much so that it became evident that it was a driving force in the overall atmosphere of the party – which helped us evolve into what we now call food driven entertainment.
And then we thought, ok, with the food truck, let’s add and enhance that idea at an event by having the truck there and putting television screens on the truck showing live feeds of our chefs cooking inside. And that’s how we see the truck being an extension of our brand. It’s taking food driven entertainment to the next level.
In terms of coming up with the truck, we went down to Miami and we found a food truck park, it was in Jupiter Florida, right beside their city hall. There were about five trucks there and it had this great community feel to it. Seeing the food truck experience down there made us think it we be really cool to try an bring that to Toronto.
Then we talked to one of the food truck owners there and he gave us a referral to a food truck builder in Miami and sure enough here we are.
TFT: What do you think of Toronto’s current food truck scene and what do you guys think you’re going to bring to the table?
Food Dudes: I think we’re going to bring a bit more character to the industry. We’re happy with how the industry here is starting to develop. The fact that there is even trucks coming out is a great thing and it’s going to be ever evolving until we become a more mature and exciting city when it comes to our street food. What’s really important for us is that we make an awesome product and show what Food Dudes is all about.
I think we’re going to bring a better overall quality product and be able to quickly serve large volumes of people. Because of our catering we have a production facility that we can use to prep a lot more food than some trucks which may have to do all their prep right on the food truck where there’s only so much space.
We also have two large service windows in the front of the truck that to open it up and show the chefs working which makes everything really friendly and creates an awesome atmosphere. The speakers on the outside are going to play cool music, we’ll have the olympics on the TV’s and we just want to bring a cool vibe to the scene.
Having a good product with good energy is what brings smiles to people’s faces.
TFT: You mentioned the plasma tv’s and the speakers, but can you tell me more about some of the features of the truck and what they will be used for?
Food Dudes: Well we have a satellite, a brand new generator so we can do a service anywhere without having to plug in, two 60 inch plasma tv’s on one side of the truck which can be used for anything and can be interchanged between photos and videos, ad materials, live tv – anything. And then we have two screens on the service side that run lengthwise with one that will be at eye level that’s for the menu and then the other one we were thinking could have a live feed into the truck so that the people in the line that are further back can see that, ‘ok the guys are in the weeds but they’re cranking it out and they’re smiling and they’re in good spirits’ and they can see what they might want to order. Our sound system is also really good and can pump music really loud.
TFT: Can you give us any exemples of dishes you’re going to have on the truck?
Food Dudes: Basically the stuff that you’re going to see on the truck is what we make together on our day off.
Really outside of the box, flavourful, not messing around with too much. For example you won’t be seeing any liquid nitrogen or molecular gastronomy, just really in your face flavours. Kind of like our catering but more in your face and stuff that maybe you don’t see here but that you’re seeing in Chicago, L.A. or New York – really outside of the box and really creative.
We can’t reveal any completed menu items yet but from a dessert perpective we’re working on a deep fried smores bar with a homemade marshmallow and a dessert taco idea.
We have some renditions of classic street food – we have a hot dog that we might do that’s not really a hot dog but in a hot dog style bun with things like brisket and tempura bits and some other crazy things. We just want to play with bold flavours and interesting combinations of textures.
The menu will be separated as munchies, boxes and ‘sambos’. And sambos to us basically means it doesn’t have to be a sandwich, it can be a po’ boy taco or a cornflake crusted talapia taco – but anything that you can grab in your hand and eat.
And what we’ve learned from our years catering is what already works together, so for us to think outside the box and really do some creative stuff isn’t that far fetched.
Another thing that we want to make known is that vegetarians will not feel out of place at our truck. Anything that is on the menu will also have a vegetarian spin on it. Which is important to us because when it comes to food trucks, vegetarians can sometimes get left out, but I’ve noticed in Toronto especially there’s a lot of people on the veggie kick and we want them to come out and enjoy the truck also.
All of our munchies will be vegetarian. So that means things like crispy lotus root and tarow root chips with smoked lime paprika salt, a seasonal corn on the cob and a really badass pakora.
Items on the menu are going to be represented from around the world. Our style of cooking isn’t like, just Italian for example, but what we do guarantee is that if we are making something more traditional like a meat ball, you will taste all the familiar authentic meat ball flavours. We will have the best meat ball sandwich around, that’s something I can guarantee.
We also like to do Mexican and Asian among others, and that’s what Food Dudes is all about – taking global flavours with local ingredients and making them pop in your mouth.
Another cool thing we are going to be doing on the truck is juices. Things like a rendition on a mojito or a daiquiri that use local ingredients to make some really fresh tasting drinks. And if you happen to have a mickey in your pocket and you want to slip some booze in, we won’t tell on you.
Our hope is that you’ll feel like you’re eating at a four-star restaurant but eating off the street at a much more reasonable price point. Everything on the truck is going to be from $3 – $10 max
TFT: Where can people expect to find you guys?
Food Dudes: We’ll be all over. You can book us for private events attached to our catering but we are open to going anywhere.
TFT: Where can people follow you online?