Corporate banker quits her job to open a food truck in Toronto with best friend

By on June 15, 2021

EL Bosco Food Truck

If you’ve been looking for a fresh and new Mexican joint to spice-up your typical taco experience, El Bosco food truck is a great choice for you.

El Bosco serves Latin American cuisine with authentic ingredients you can’t find just anywhere, such as their Mayan-style pulled pork tacos, made with a rare ingredient that comes from a native Mexican plant called achiote.

The pulled-pork is wrapped in moist banana leaves and slow-cooked overnight with the achiote, giving the dish its vibrant orange colour and authentic Mayan flavour. 

El Bosco Food Truck

“The mayans used achiote as body make-up and also for food,” said Ismael Castro, Chef at El Bosco, as he tossed fragrant onions on the grill. The valuable plant has also historically been used in various markets around the world, and still is to this day. 

“They use it in the textile industry for fabrics, and in the cheese industry to dye cheese… It’s a very rare, very beautiful flower,” he said.

This specific dish originated in Yucatan, Mexico, home to one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world: the Mayan ruins. The achiote plant flourishes in this region, and cannot be found anywhere here in Canada. 

El Bosco Pulled Pork Tacos

“You have to get it directly from Mexico,” said Marcela Geer, owner of El Bosco. “And it stains… If you get it on your clothes, you’re done.” Marcela recalls a time many years ago when Ismael made the signature pulled-pork tacos at a house party she hosted. 

Marcela laughed, “there has been achiote on my kitchen counter ever since.”

Something unique about El Bosco is that they don’t just serve Mexican food, they serve a variety of different Latin American flavours, such as Colombian empanadas, Venezuela arepas, and Salvadorian Pupusas, to name a few. 

Ismael has also gotten much better at creating foods that cater to Canadian taste buds, such as their vegan pop-corn cauliflower served with chipotle sauce or their slow-roasted chicken, in addition to other gluten-free options.

“That’s the interesting part about it,” Ismael explained. “Mexican food is very homogenous.”

El Bosco Empanadas

Marcela, originally from Colombia, came up with the idea to open the truck with Ismael in 2019, leaving behind her job as corporate banker. She met Ismael, originally from Mexico, 30 years ago where they worked together as bartenders at a nightclub in the Peter and Richmond area, the old entertainment district in Toronto. 

Right off the bat, Marcela admired Ismael’s talent as a chef and his deep-rooted passion for cooking that he inherited from his mother. They hit it off for years before Marcela decided it was time to make her food and entertainment dreams a reality, putting her financial background and Ismael’s cooking to the test.

“I was in banking for over ten years, but my heart was not in it… My passion has always been more in the entertainment and hospitality industry,” Marcela explained. “I have the financial background, and Ismael can cook… It was the perfect partnership to start a business.”

The two had initially planned on opening a restaurant and catering business together, but after attending a massive backyard party with hundreds of people that featured exclusive food truck catering and pool-side service, they decided to take things in a different direction.

El Bosco Food Truck

“I thought, ‘that’s such a great idea, I’d love to do something like that,’” said Marcela, noting that she has always loved to host. “So I came back to Toronto with that in mind, and when I was developing my business plan and proposal, I decided to add it on and see if it will work out.”

Lucky for Marcela, it worked out. 

In fact, unlike most food truck businesses, El Bosco’s first day open was at a massive festival event— the 2019 Rolling Stones concert in Barrie— with over 100,000 attendees looking for tasty food to chase their beer with.

“It was the most incredible experience because of what we went through to make it happen,” Marcela said.

The pair faced extenuating circumstances that day. Not having the fully completed food truck, appropriate inspections, and all the necessary materials until just moments before the concert made their first day open one of the most difficult yet rewarding moments of their lives. 

El Bosco Food Truck

“That one day we sold the most we’ve ever sold, the line-up was just unbelievable” Marcela explained. “I swear I was gunna lose my mind, we didn’t sleep for two days leading up to that event… But we managed and we did it and it was amazing.”

That event was the writing on the wall that foreshadowed Marcela and Ismael’s successful careers from that point on.

“We did that— and now we can do anything,” Marcela said confidently. “Anything else is possible.” 

Both can agree that operating a food truck is hard work with long and strenuous hours to commit, but the benefits surely outweigh the disadvantages.

“There are always going to be challenges, and that’s something I love about this industry, you know?” Ismael said. “You have to know what you’re getting into, otherwise it will become a burden… You have huge amounts of people and it’s non-stop, so it’s kind of surreal sometimes. It’s like a race, and you’re running on adrenaline.”

El Bosco Food Truck

El Bosco is in the process of opening another food truck location at the Street Eats Market at Scarborough Town Centre and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

El Bosco also has plans to open a truck at the Docks Entertainment sports and recreation complex next to Rebel nightclub, where you can play beach volleyball and have contactless meals brought right to your tables from the truck. They will also be participating in the Street Eats Night Market this summer.

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