Satisfying your cravings for Cuban food just got a lot easier. Visiting the Cuban Thing will guarantee two things; you’re going to eat good and indulge in more than just food, but the culture behind it. This flavourful food truck serves up Cuban food with a Miami twist; including Cuban frita burgers, chicken and steak bowls, sandwiches and tostones.
The Cuban Thing is a family owned and operated business, founded by Chuchi Rivero and his wife. The truck came together in October 2020 after Rivero made the transition from cinematographer to chef.
“I’ve been doing cinematography for over 40 years and one of my clients for the last 20 years has been the Food Network. I also directed MasterChef Latino. Through the years, I’ve been looking at the culinary world from a photographer, director perspective,” said Rivero.
After finishing a film in Ecuador back in 2020, COVID-19 hit. Rivero ended up returning to Toronto during the first stay at home order. While in Toronto Rivero noticed Cuban food options were seriously lacking.
“I asked myself ‘where are people going to get Cuban food?’ Cuban food and being in the kitchen is second nature to me. I told myself, ‘let me prepare to give people what they deserve,’ which is our culture and Cuban food. I went to culinary school to better my skills and in October of 2020 we came out with our food truck,” said Rivero.
Preparation for the Cuban Thing starts at 6:30 a.m. Rivero talks with his vendors throughout the week and in the morning to place inventory orders. After that, Rivero starts making his homemade sauces, fresh rice, meat and beans. The entire process takes about three hours to ensure each dish is served fresh for the day.
Rivero wants his customers to feel transported with each authentic Cuban-Miami dish. “We know that Canadians love going to Cuba. With COVID-19 here and travel is hard, we thought why don’t we bring Cuba and Miami to Toronto? We want people to understand this is Cuban authentic food, but it’s got the Miami boldness to it,” said Rivero.
The frita burger is based off of a 90 year old recipe tracing back to a Cuban food cart according to Rivero. After multiple tests, Rivero and his vendor Totera Fine Foods were able to perfect the frita burger recipe last July.
Rivero grew up with tons of home cooking, fresh beans, rice and the frita burger. Connection to Cuban culture has always been an important part of business and Riveros upbringing.
“Even though I was raised in Miami, I was born in Cuba. My mom is miss super Cuban. She made sure that as I grew up, even though I was at an American school in American society, that I knew where I came from. You’ve got to know your roots to be real and authentic,” said Rivero.
If you asked Rivero about some of the signature dishes at the Cuban Thing, he’d tell you the top four are the BG crispy chicken sandwich, the frita burger, the el cubano sandwich and the Cuban steak sandwich.
The BG crispy in particular is the perfect example of Miami and Cuban flavours coming together. Rivero gave the classic chicken sandwich a tropical twist with mango chips and a berry guava sauce.
To any aspiring food truck owners, Rivero offers a simple piece of advice he’s always lived by, “Show up. Whether it’s family life, partnership, love life or businesses. Be in the now and whatever you do, do it with passion.”
Rivero continues, “We are very faith based. When everything starts to fall in place, when you don’t have to fight it no matter what you do, things start happening that way. I told myself this is the road we’ve got to take and thank you from up high. We’re ecstatic to be able to give Toronto Cuban food.”