Feast in the East is the work of collaborative partnerships

Operating a food truck means being a part of a small, lively industry for Margaret Hope of BLAM!Wich Heroic Eats.

“There were about eight trucks last summer and we got very close,” she said of the relationships between herself and the other vendors. Hope serves a variety of fares from what used to be a Handi-bus.

“There’s healthy competition, there’s a lot of collaborative marketing and collaboration on different events, we’re trying to make everybody a success,” said Hope.

The Feast in the East food truck festival, featuring 19 trucks, took over Confluence Way in Calgary’s East Village Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27.

For Hope, this was a great opportunity for the food trucks to come together for one last time before some of them shut down for the winter. Individuals braved the chill in scarves and mittens to enjoy onsite music and grab a bite to eat before retreating indoors.

Taking a bite out of the cold

“I think if this festival were in January it’d be busier. People are still adjusting to the cold,” said Rocco Bartoletti of Cinquecento Cucina, another food truck at the festival.

Despite cold weather both inside and outside of the trucks, Kaori Shimobayashi of Shogun Teppenyaki said she was happy to be a part of the community.

Feast in the East took place in the East Village on Friday and Saturday, seeing a decent turnout despite cold temperatures.

Photo by Nicolle Amyotte
“It’s fun being out here with our partners, we’re all one big family,” she said.

“Everyone helps each other. My truck broke down yesterday, and everyone kind of knows the hiccups of the truck so they all got together to help fix it. We all really help each other out.

“Events are so much fun, with all of these people getting together and having a good time. That’s the fun part, seeing people enjoying good food.”

The festival, organized by YYC Food Trucks, was intended to be a “last hurrah” for the trucks before the snow fell, although Calgary weather ended the season early.

Two Calgarians who braved the cold to take part in the festival were James Bigelow and Kristin Miyauchi, who decided it would be “a decent idea for lunch.”

“I kind of like the idea of food trucks, it brings a different atmosphere,” Miyauchi said.

“It’s cool to see them all in one spot, you don’t have to chase them all over the city,” said Bigelow, whose southeast office is a regular spot for food trucks.

So, what is it about food trucks that is so appealing to Calgarians?

“There have been food trucks all over the world for decades,” Hope said, adding that in Calgary it is still quite new.

“The Food Network has done an amazing job of marketing our business before we even started,” she said of the channels specials on food trucks as a whole.

Margaret Hope smiles from the BLAM!Wich food truck at the Feast in the East on Saturday.

Photo by Nicolle Amyotte
“I don’t know if Calgary would have been ready to eat food out of a truck if it had not been for the Food Network making it trendy, but also making it familiar.

“They’re always filming inside of the trucks so that people can see that it’s an actual restaurant and not cobbled together with duct tape. People had a really good introduction to it before it hit Calgary,” she said.

Hope added that running a food truck is a more difficult endeavor than a lot of hopefuls anticipate.

“You need a significant amount of cooking experience, it’s a small kitchen so you’ve got to be really creative with the space.

“Start-up is less expensive than a restaurant, but care and maintenance can be costly. You’re running a restaurant, which is difficult, and this restaurant happens to move.

“Anything can happen here.”

Nicolle Amyotte

namyotte@cjournal.ca

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