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Curbalicious had a slow start when it opened in October of 2013. The food truck’s late entry into the serving season – and the impending onset of winter – forced owner Brittney Pawlick to shut down the business.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2014, one rebrand and a few carefully-chosen events later, and it’s safe to say Pawlick has put those days long behind her: “I’m fully booked for the next two weeks – I don’t even have a day to breathe.”

The truck, which serves a rotating slate of hearty, home-style dishes, has been kept busy with streetside services, private events and festivals around the GTA since the spring, with no signs of slowing down.

That comeback is all the more impressive, given that Pawlick’s making up for lack of a culinary background with sheer hustle. She floated in and out of the hospitality industry before eventually deciding to pursue opening a food truck in 2012.

“I saw a few food trucks, and it was getting big in the States, and I was like ‘How fun would it be?’”

She purchased a truck at auction in Atlanta and drove it back home to Toronto, fixing it up and customizing it with her own two hands in her dad’s metal workshop. “I know where every single wire in my truck is,” Pawlick says, adding that when she’s on board, “it feels like I’m cooking in my house”.

The truck offers an informal and intimate menu to match. The ever-changing lineup of “gourmet homestyle” dishes tends to stem from whatever ingredient Pawlick wants to spotlight; past creations include meatloaf poutine and Asian salmon cakes.

“I always find inspiration in things that I love,” she says. “I love duck. I figured I couldn’t put a duck confit on a food truck – so I did a pulled duck, put it on a slider.” Braised for four hours and topped with homemade cranberry-apple compote, the duck sliders are one of her most popular items.

The other staple: Pork schnitzel on a bun, topped with mayo and mustard, that pays tribute to Pawlick’s Polish heritage. Diners often order the decadent-sounding sandwich with a touch of shame, she laughs: “‘The schnitzel, it’s deep-fried? And it’s on a bun, eh? And there’s mayo? … Yeah, I think I’ll have that.’”

As the summer stretches on, she’s planning to introduce some items that cater to the late-night crowd – “a little more greasy, a little more fun”. She’ll likely be seeing a lot more of them: Pawlick just helmed the launch of a new food truck alley near Adelaide and Brant, set to attract diners from weekday lunch-breakers all the way to the Saturday night after-bar crowd.

Add that to the slew of summer events ahead, including the Beaches International Jazz Festival and a trip to Muskoka’s Ribfest, and Pawlick’s got an awful lot on her plate.

“By tomorrow, I could end up with another four festivals I don’t even know exist yet,” she laughs. “I think that it should be a good year.”

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