Food cart festival reborn as a single-day feast in Surrey

SURREY — Last summer’s inaugural Surrey Food Cart Festival left a bad taste in the mouths of some. There were delays in getting the weekly event off the ground and, once it all finally got going last August, a revised site in a dusty corner of Holland Park didn’t exactly make crowds flock to the festival.

This is 2015, however, and the current organizers of the event have re-imagined it as a single-day festival devoted to food-cart offerings from around the region.

On Saturday (July 25), 20 members of the Fraser Valley Food Truck Association will park at Surrey’s city hall plaza for the six-hour event, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The 2014 festival was supposed to be held in the plaza on 104th Avenue but its construction wasn’t yet complete, forcing the move to Holland Park under the management of Vancouver-based Arrival Agency, operators of that city’s popular Food Cart Fest.

The festival in Surrey is now organized by Laine Ogilvie, Maple Ridge-based president of the host association and operator of Memory Laine Events.

“This will be the first food cart festival at the (Surrey city hall) plaza,” Ogilvie told the Now.

“It’s a very nice (venue) – brand spanking new and beautiful,” she continued, “and it’s good because they have the road that kind of goes around it. If they didn’t have that, it wouldn’t be a good site for this (festival) because of the weight restrictions, due to the parkade underneath the plaza. So we’ll have all the trucks parked on that roadway and then the band (The VooDoo Chill), the beer garden and all the seating in the plaza itself.”

Cloverdale’s Rick Picard has made a business of parking his Taters truck – a tastefully renovated motorhome – at similar festivals and community events around Metro Vancouver.

For the past year, he’s been into selling people baked potatoes – the kind covered in lobster, crab and cod (a dish dubbed “the Sea Ya Later Tater”) and chicken with rice, peppers and spices (the “My Thai Tater”), among other ingredients.

To get his enterprise cooking, Picard imported four King Edward ovens from Britain.

“It’s this little wood-burning oven thing, and I can cook 80 potatoes an hour,” Picard boasted. “And I don’t really have any throw-away, because I take my unused potatoes, cool them, quarter them, salt and pepper them, add a little oil, stick them back in the smaller oven for about 15 minutes and you’ve got the best potato wedges you’ve ever eaten.”

Picard, who remains in the home-moving business, has driven his Taters truck to several events in Surrey since last August, including the city’s tree-lighting festival in December, the recent FVDED in the Park concert at Holland Park and also Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair.

Some events are more profitable to him than others, revealed Picard, whose wife and niece are front-line operators of Taters.

“We do big ones and little ones, and some better than others,” he noted. “This year we did the Cloverdale Rodeo and you’d think it’d be a good event but it turned out to be a bit of a dog’s lunch because there’s just so many other cheaper food options available to people. You know, if you can get a four-dollar hamburger, why pay $10 for a lobster and crab baked potato?

“And then there are catering jobs for businesses that are (profitable),” he continued. “We’ll go there for two and half an hour and make $800, everybody loves it and is happy. We love those kind of events, and we do street food festivals, like the one coming up in Surrey, where there’s 15 or 20 trucks, five or six thousand people there and everyone has a great day.”

Other food trucks at this Saturday’s festival include Dougie Dog, Old Country Pierogi, TNT Wraps, Tasty Torpedo, Uncle Kebab, Poomba’s Smokehouse, the Aussie Pie Guy, Mollies Minis and more.

Festival admission is $2, or free for Vancity members and kids 13 and under.

“Fingers crossed, we’ll have a good turnout,” Ogilvie said. “We’ve had good response on our Facebook events page, with about 4,000 people attending.… People seem to like a festival like this, where they can spend the whole day with their family, if they choose, and have both lunch and dinner, and also try a bunch of different food. With our events, we make sure the trucks offer some smaller portions – at least one item on their menu for less than $6, so people can try (food) from multiple trucks.”

The plaza is located at 13450 104th Ave., Surrey. For more festival details, visit Fraservalleyfoodtruck.com.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

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