Braizen founder realizes potential for mobile catering after late-career change
At 44 years old, Steve Glavicich says he’s exactly where he’s meant to be.
And that means driving around Calgary in a gourmet mobile kitchen covered in bright yellow flames on hot red rims.
As owner and operator of Braizen Food Truck: Chef-Driven Cuisine, Glavicich says while he is the poorest he’s ever been in his adult life, he is by far the happiest.
Born in Montreal, Glavicich was inspired as a young boy by his grandmother’s cooking. “I was always impressed by her ability to make amazing meals out of the humblest of ingredients,” he says.
After moving to Calgary at 25 years old, he graduated from the culinary arts program at SAIT Polytechnic in 1988. He worked his way up from dishwasher to chef and was a founding chef of Pau Hana Grille in 2003, named one of the top 10 best new restaurants by food connoisseur John Gilchrist.
Glavicich describes food as an “equalizer,” bringing people together. He says we associate food with our happiest times and some of our saddest times too.
However, 60 to 80-hour work weeks did not bode well as a husband and new father so he left the kitchen behind to work for a music publishing company for the next 10 years. Eventually though, it also caught up with him.
He no longer felt fulfilled because he wasn’t creating anything, he says. The only solution he knew of was to return to his true passion.
The demanding mistress
In 2010, Glavicich left the corporate world and co-founded the BLAM!Wich food truck with his friend Margie Hope. Soon Glavicich decided he wanted a truck to call his own. Braizen officially launched on May 22, 2012.
The name comes from one of the mobile eatery’s common cooking methods of braising meat. “And a little bit of zen thrown in there,” he adds. Ergo, “Braizen.”
Glavicich believes in providing access to composed, regional ingredients that are high-end but approachable, changing his menu about three to four times per season. Recent menu features range from seafood mac and the signature jerk chicken sandwich.
“I want people to go, ‘Wow! I can’t believe I got lamb shank and rosemary polenta off a food truck!’” he says.
Conrad Walz, Glavicich’s friend for 20 years, describes him as a “rebel spirit.” But Walz says he sees a lot more focus in Glavicich now.
“He can’t be drifting, it’s all him. If he’s not there, it doesn’t happen,” Walz says.
Glavicich says he joined the mobile eatery scene at exactly the right time. Two years after the YYC Food Trucks originally launched in 2010, the food culture in Calgary had transformed into a subculture of its own.
The “original eight” have now grown to include over 30 trucks. This two-year pilot project will soon be made a permanent part of Calgary’s food scene with City Council discussions planned later this year.
“It certainly takes a special breed,” says Glavicich of food truck owners.
He describes his business as a demanding mistress. Glavicich wears all the hats—marketing, chef, CEO, cashier and even mechanic.
“It’s never the same day twice,” he says. “But the rewards are great.”
But those rewards aren’t always money in the bank.
Glavicich says his only problem now is financial but adds that this problem is temporary and fixable.
He says that after serving his first customer on the streets, he knew he’d made the right choice.
When he isn’t working at home or on the truck, he’s playing guitar, eating at his favourite restaurants or spending time with his seven-year-old son, Logan. He says he’s proud to be doing something that his son can understand. Logan has even shared in the experience by hitting the streets with his dad.
Hope says the truck has changed Glavicich for the better. “He’s his own boss and he’s able to be creative in an atmosphere that he thrives in.”
Glavicich says, “Food is my life. And the truck is just an extension of that.”
But you won’t find Braizen on as many street corners as the cold-front rolls in. He says the catering side of the mobile food business has sped off and he plans to focus on adding zing to weddings and even school lunches throughout the colder months.
CORRECTION: The photo was taken by Kenneth Locke, not Kevin. We appologize for this error.