Chef Stephen DeKastle with a Gatekeeper sausage-on-a-bun offering from the Taste of Heaven food truck, at Surrey Urban Farmers Market last Wednesday (June 14). (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Surrey’s newest food truck cooks gourmet sausages to help feed Whalley’s hungriest people

NightShift rolls out Taste of Heaven as a social-enterprise vehicle

Buy a meal, help feed someone who really needs one.

In a nutshell, this is the concept of Surrey’s newest food truck, a social-enterprise van rolled out by NightShift Street Ministries.

Their month-old Taste of Heaven truck serves gourmet sausage (on a bun) for $8.50, and a percentage of proceeds help fund NightShift’s outreach work to provide hot meals to Whalley’s neediest people.

Chef Stephen DeKastle’s trio of tasty sausage creations have been given biblical names, including The Gatekeeper (chorizo), Pillar of the East (Banh mi-style pork) and Mindful Saint (spiced glazed carrot, a vegetarian option).

MaryAnne Connor, NightShift’s founder and president, says the non-profit organization wanted to “rev up the food truck business and take it to a more gourmet place, and I think we’ve achieved that and have a lot of fun in the process.

“I think we’re the only non-profit food truck out there that is supporting a non-profit,” she added.

The $97,000 needed to buy and repurpose the truck was raised at NightShift’s annual golf tourney last spring.

Connor dreamed up the concept long before that, and today she’s on Cloud Nine about the state-of-the-art Taste of Heaven truck.

“Two or three years ago, I think it was in your paper that I saw an article about Apollo (the Surrey-based food truck manufacturer), and I was I was intrigued,” Connor explained. “I pulled that out of the paper and held onto it because in the back of my mind, I knew that we’d be needing to replace our outreach truck, our mobile kitchen, and what would it look like if it could serve as an outreach (vehicle) as well as a social enterprise, and that’s where the idea first came from, and we’re actually doing it now.”

Taste of Heaven rolled to its first public event on May 6, and the truck’s summer schedule is a busy one, Connor noted.

The four-wheeler was parked at Surrey Urban Farmers Market for the first time on June 14, and it’ll return to North Surrey rec centre plaza every second Wednesday afternoon.

DeKastle said he designed gourmet menu items that wouldn’t take him 30 minutes to craft in the truck’s mod kitchen, with ingredients including spinach, fennel, Thai chili, chimichurri, spiced pumpkin seeds and more.

“We also wanted to showcase Stapleton Sausage, a local company we’ve partnered with, and they’re awesome about supporting community things,” DeKastle noted.

NightShift sought a part-time kitchen assistant to work alongside DeKastle, and also “fun, friendly and focused” volunteers to join its new food truck team. Visit nightshiftministries.org for details, or check out Tasteheaven.ca.

Taste of Heaven will replace NightShift’s old mobile kitchen, which has been operating on “faith and duct tape” for the past dozen years, according to Connor.

“We’ve had the old truck for so long, it’s served literally thousands upon thousands of meals, and what we had in 2005, after 12 years, it was limping pretty badly,” Connor said. “So we needed a new truck, and we also had this idea of social enterprise, and I couldn’t believe the response when I presented the idea to everyone (at NightShift) – it was phenomenal. We raised enough money to fabricate this truck without dipping into our operational budget.”

In the winter months, the Taste of Heaven truck will be used for the organization’s outreach work.

“How many people will line up at the food truck in December in the rain, right?” Connor said. “During those months, we’re looking at converting it back into serving on the street here, so it really has dual purpose as an outreach and social enterprise. It’s either that or park it for the winter, which doesn’t make sense to me.”

tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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