Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rise of the Pop-Up

After not being able to make it out to the Underground Market this past Saturday, I decided to end my long weekend with a Monday trip down the 401 for a trio of pop-up mastery at the Steam Whistle Brewery.  In celebration of the Toronto Blue Jays Home Opener, Fidel Gastro, Comida del Pueblo and The Rock Lobster Co. came together to feed the masses their delicious sandwich creations.

Pop-up restaurants and retail stores are becoming increasingly popular in today's culture.  An ingenious way to start a business at minimal cost, many young entrepreneurs are taking to the streets in search of the next venue to showcase their products.  With the street food scene growing in popularity across North America, the city of Toronto is starting to stand out as a hotbed for food trucks and pop-up restaurants. 

La Carnita was the first to hit the local pop-up market last summer.  Combining street food with street art, creator Andrew Richmond and his team are serving some of the best tacos and tostadas this taco enthusiast has ever had.  La Carnita's overwhelming success has been pivotal in growth to the street food industry and has inspired several other local chefs to take on their own pop-up businesses.

La Carnita: Buy limited edition art...receive tacos!
Fidel Gastro

Over the past several months, El Presidente himself,  Matt Basile has not only showcased his awesome culinary skills, but he has also perfectly demonstrated the way to market a new business.  Ingenious product branding coupled with a strong social media presence and fresh local ingredients have proven to be a huge success.  Fidel's Extremo Cuban Sandwich menu is ever evolving and Basile recently took a trip down to Miami where he found inspiration through in the flavours and culture of the immigrant Cuban community.  His prep work is done at a local butcher whom conveniently enough also provides the meat, and he sources the buns from bakery in Kensington Market.  No matter which one of his popular sandwiches you order, be ready to yell OLE! when your order arrives.

"Sgt. Slather" and the "El Paisano"

Comida del Pueblo

Comida del Peublo is literally translated to "Food of the People".  This triple threat of young Toronto chefs came together to create some of the best street food the city has to offer.  Using traditional Latin American ingredients, their menu is highlighted by a Jalapeno Cornbread Grilled Cheese Sandwich that is sure to sell out at every event.  Water Buffalo Empenadas are a recent addition to their menu which has garnered significant publicity from hungry customers ready to snap pics of their meal and post online.

Jalapeno cornbread grilled cheese and water buffalo empanada

Rock Lobster Food Co.

Rock Lobster is the newest kid on the Toronto Pop-Up Block.  After trips to Atlantic Canada and NYC, a decision was made to bring the ever popular lobster roll to the streets of Toronto.  Rock Lobster just participated in their first Underground Market and proved to be a fan favorite, as evidenced by having one of the longest lines at the event all evening long.  Rock Lobster is also offering a wholesale line of sustainable seafood from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  For more information on how to order, check out their website!

Lobster rolls and lobster ceviche

All pop-ups are available for private catering, but don't wait too long to book them for your event, as their summer schedules are filling up fast!  Fidel Gastro, Comida del Peublo and Rock Lobster will all be showcased in the upcoming The Next Food Truck hosted by the wildly popular Food Truck Eats events.  In a one day showdown on April 23rd, they will compete along with other budding food truck owners to see who would be best suited to take to the streets of Toronto in their own mobile kitchen.

And be sure check out the Toronto Street Food Project to see how a group of local street food activists have come together to promote a change in municipal regulations throughout their city.