Right now it seems like there is a new Toronto food truck coming out every week.
And we aren’t complaining.
Yesterday, Toronto’s first BBQ themed truck, Hogtown Smoke, launched at 99 MRKT – an indoor/outdoor market that takes place every Sunday at 99 Sudbury Street.
The event was well attended with just enough people for the Hogtown Smoke guys not be overwhelmed but still be busy enough for them to sell out of food by 3:30 p.m.
The Hogtown truck features an on board smoker, flatscreen TV, an iPad POS system and an attractive blue/black wrap featuring their logo and a cloud of smoke.
On the menu were BBQ staples like pulled pork, smoked brisket and pulled chicken, as well as less traditional smoked fish tacos.
We caught up with Mark Wasserman and Scott Fraser, the guys behind Hogtown, last week and asked them some questions about Toronto’s lastest food truck.
TFT: What did you guys do before opening a food truck and where did the idea for Hogtown Smoke come from?
Scott: After university I got into DJ’ing and nightclub owning and when that ran its course I got into corporate sales – and like a lot of people I eventually grew tired of it. During that time my stress release became cooking and BBQ’ing.
One of the benefits of the sales job I had is that I got to travel all over the U.S. and I began to visit authentic southern BBQ joints. And then about ten years ago I was in Memphis at the same time as the World BBQ Championships and fell in love with the whole pit-style of BBQ. The true smoke – not cooking with just heat but with smoke.
So I came home and bought a smoker for my backyard and within a year or two it seemed like every meal at every family get together and holiday was done on the smoker. So what started as a passion began to look more like a legitimate business opportunity and I began to think about opening a restaurant. But then the whole food truck phenomenon hit and for the last year we’ve been trying to look at how we can have a smoker on board a truck and still have enough room on the truck to operate and offer a full menu.
Mark: I was in sales and marketing in the beer industry and that’s how I met Scott. I’ve always had a passion for food and I thought that my marketing and branding experience combined with Scott’s skills in the kitchen would make for a successful and quality food truck.
TFT: Can you tell us about the concept behind the truck and the food?
Scott: The food truck is called Hogtown Smoke. ‘Hogtown’ being slang for Toronto and ‘Smoke’ referring to the fact that almost everything on board is smoked. And we didn’t just put in a commercial or even a competition grade smoker, we put in a smoker that’s won more world champion BBQ contests than any other smoker on the market. So we know the product is going to be great.
And BBQ is different depending on where you go, especially in the States. You ask somebody in Texas ‘what’s BBQ?’ and it’s brisket. You ask somebody in Kansas City and they tell you it’s pulled pork. In North Carolina you’ll get a different answer than in South Carolina.
So what we’ve tried to do is take the best BBQ from everywhere whether it’s Texas brisket or North Carolina pulled pork and then added some Mexican influences like our fish tacos for example.
TFT: Can you give us a few more examples of some of the menu items you will be serving?
Scott: We’ve got traditional pulled pork with your choice of three or four different homemade BBQ sauces that we make on the truck. As I mentioned we’ve got some texas-style brisket which is smoked on board for about 18-20 hours, homemade cornbread and bake beans. We’ve also got a smoked pulled chicken that’s been brined and marinated in Patron tequila with some lime and cilantro and it’s served with jalapeno Patron relish and smoked cheese.
TFT: Can you tell us some more about your truck and it’s features?
Scott: In terms of having an actual smoker on a food truck in Toronto or the GTA, the only people with something similar have been competition BBQ teams with 53 foot trailers that compete for awards. Our challenge was trying to fit the smoker on an 18 foot Purolator truck. It’s a little tight but we managed to do it.
We believe it’s really important to be able to control the quality of the product and we didn’t want to smoke our meat in a backyard or commissary kitchen and then pack it up in foil and bring it to the truck. We want people to enjoy our food when it comes straight out of the smoker.
Mark: In addition to the smoker we having a satellite dish installed on the top of our truck. We’re also going to have a modular arm that swings out from the back of our truck with a flatscreen TV so if there’s a game going on – for example the Euro Championship this month – we can show it. And from a social media standpoint, we’re also hoping to get interactive and show live Twitter feeds on the screen so if you’re at an event and you want to tweet a picture of your food you’ll be able to see it show up on the truck. We’ll also have a wifi network enabled on the truck that people will be able to hook into so they can access the internet while they’re hanging out.
Another cool feature from a tech standpoint is our POS system which is all run on iPads. That means at events we can send staff out to take orders from the crowd that automatically wire back to the truck which we think will speed up service.
In other words, we think it’s going to be a pretty state of the art truck.
TFT: Do you have any regular locations planned yet?
Mark: We’re going to be at the food truck hub that exists down at Queen and Jarvis and we’re excited to join forces with Blue Donkey and Buster’s Sea Cove and some of the other trucks that are there already.
TFT: Where can people find you online?