If there is one food trend I love, it is food trucks! I often find that the most creative and unique dishes do not come out of the standard brick and mortar restaurant but from tiny kitchens on top of four moving wheels. For any food truck enthusiasts like me you are in luck as one of the largest food truck festivals is returning to Ontario: The 3rd Annual Food Truck Awards, AwesTRUCK 2014! This year it is being held at Celebration Square in Mississauga on September 5th and 6th, 2014.
For people who don’t know what AwesTruck is all about, it is a premier food event in the city where 30 Food Trucks will continue on the tradition of recognizing the best and brightest of local curbside cuisine. This year for the first time Spotlight City Events will be collaborating with this food truck festival that will not only bring some of the best street food this city has ever seen, but it will also bring the annual food truck awards ceremony at 6PM on September 6th. Seven awards will be handed out this year in the following categories:
- Best Menu Item
- Best Graphics
- Best New Truck
- Best Concept
- Best Pop-up
- Road Warrior
- People’s Choice
Last Saturday I was invited to take part in the AwesTRUCK 2014 Preview VIP Hour where selected media were able to get a sneak-peak into this food truck rally a full week before the actual event would take place in Mississauga. With the help from Matt Dean Pettit (of Rock Lobster and Boots & Bourbon) and Samuel Adams Brewery, they hosted a preview of this event at the parking lot of 495 Wellington Street West in Toronto that featured many of the contenders for this year’s awards along with past winners as well. This preview was great for the people who live in Toronto but would not be able to make it all the way down to Mississauga for the event since in the previous years this event was held at Fort York. I was able to get a private taste from three of the food trucks before the preview opened up to the general public along with downing some award winning beer at the very same time.
During the event I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Dean Pettit who would be hosting this preview. Matt is the owner and chef of one of the busiest restaurants in Toronto, Rock Lobster Food Co and also recently opened up a country themed restaurant filled with great music, line dancing, and even bull riding (yes, there’s actually a mechanical bull in this restaurant!) called Boots & Bourbon Saloon. He can also add author now to his credentials as his very first cookbook will be coming out this October called The Great Lobster Cookbook. The cookbook will include his favourite lobster recipes from lobster rolls, lobster eggs benny, lobster poutine, and even vanilla bean lobster ice cream. Although the cookbook will be sold in stores nationwide next month, you can already pre-order a copy today here.
We started off with some craft beer samples from one of the sponsors and hosts Samuel Adams Brewery where we got to taste their Boston Lager and Latitude 48. The Boston Lager was awarded the Best Beer at the Great American Beer Festival, and has gone on to win more awards than any other brewery in the world. They were kind enough to always fill up our glasses as soon as they were empty while we walked around merrily eating and drinking away. We all certainly felt like VIP with a #Saminhand!
The first food truck we visited was Caribbean Provisions On Da Go Inc and they prepared for us the Jerk Chicken Wrap. Their secret sauce added a great flavour and heat to the wrap and the inclusion of plantain added a unique texture and crunch to it that makes it stand out from just your ordinary wrap. We were all transported to Jamaica just for a little bit while we indulged in some delicious jerk chicken.
Jerk Chicken, Rice, Beans, Plantains
Moving on to the second food truck, a “Corn Star” was waiting for us from Cornehcopia who prepared first their Mexican Elote Corn on the Cob. I have never experienced eating corn on the cob this way before so it was such a treat to try with all these flavours from the cojita cheese and zesty mayo exploding in my mouth. This certainly seemed like a fan favourite from all the media who attended.
Grilled Corn, Mexican Mayonnaise, Freshly Grated Cojita Cheese, Butter, Chilli, Lime
One of the downfalls that many people think of when eating corn on the cob is just how messy it is to eat it. Cornehcopia has literally solved this problem by creating a bowl form of their corn on the cob so the exact same dish pictured above where you would have to eat with your hands is now accessible cleanly with a spoon. Move over froyo, corn in a bowl with all the fixings could just be the next big thing!
Grilled Grated Corn in a Bowl, Mexican Mayonnaise, Freshly Grated Cojita Cheese, Butter, Chilli, Lime
Canadian Maple Corn in a Bowl, Maple Syrup, Dijon Mustard, Maple Butter
The third and last food truck we tried before the VIP hour was over was Curbalicious, a new food truck that started just a year ago. One of my favourite comfort foods (mac n’ cheese) were being served up here called the Cheezy Jalapeno Bites in the most unique and delicious way in bite size pieces of deep fried heaven!
Jalapeno Mac N’ Cheese Squares Breaded, then Deep Fried
They also did their own spin on nachos, but instead of using tortilla chips they used naan bread instead creating an Indian flare which was cleverly named as “Nanchos.”
Naan Bread topped with Butter Chicken, Cheese, Mango Lime Sauce, Crema, Cilantro
If you are free on these two days, I highly recommend you drop by Mississauga’s Celebration Square to indulge in what will be the biggest food truck festival this province or even country has ever seen. In the past years people who wanted to attend this festival had to pay an entrance fee but for the first time admission is absolutely free for everyone! When the festival first started 2 years ago, VIP tickets were $60 but as a thank you for the outpouring support from the hungry crowds who have attended this event, AwesTRUCK 2014 will allow you to enjoy all the food these vendors have to offer without letting you worry about what’s left in your wallet. Please remember that this is a cash only event with the exception of the food trucks using the Tab Payments app. This is one food event you do not want to miss!
Some more pictures below from the VIP Hour. Photo Credit to Mauricio Jose Calero courtesy of Samuel Adams.
AwesTRUCK 2014 Event Details
Date: September 5th – 6th, 2014
Time: 5PM – 11PM, September 5th
6PM – 11PM, September 6th (Awards Ceremony)
Location: Celebration Square, Mississauga
Ticket Price: FREE
Spotlight City Events
Samuel Adams Brewery
Matt Dean Pettit of Rock Lobster and Boots & Bourbon
Aimee Cook of Branding and Buzzing
Caribbean Provisions On Da Go Inc. Food Truck
Cornehcopia Food Truck
Curbalicious Food Truck