A Look Inside Calgary’s Food Truck Culture

Food trucks have been re-shaping Calgary’s food culture over the past few years with innovative menus, the use of social media and the ability to move around to multiple locations each week. The number of food trucks you see on our streets has grown exponentially since 2010. As you might recall, the advent of food trucks in this city involved passing conversation with friends and colleagues about a solitary truck that sat in the back alley behind Charcut. At the time, word on the street was that burgers served at this mobile venue were amazing at only $5 and well worth the trip. The venue being referred to was Alley Burger; and yes, the burgers are indeed delicious. 

Fast forward to 2013, where seeing street food culture in Calgary has exploded. Food trucks all around town are commonplace, along with the hungry citizens gladly waiting in line to try each truck’s daily specials. Today you see a wide range of fare out there from the Happy Truck, which offers Indonesian-inspired cuisine, to the Mighty Skillet, which serves up classic brunch items like Eggs Benedict. 

Like many business ventures today, food trucks depend on word-of-mouth marketing along with social media. YYCFoodTrucks is a major proponent of the food truck movement in Calgary. They are responsible for putting out an app that allows you to keep tabs on where food trucks will be stationed each day using a map of the city. Brittany Back, the Community Coordinator for YYCFoodTrucks, gave us the scoop on Calgary’s mobile cuisine and what’s to come. 

How did you get involved in the local food truck scene?
A few years back James Boettcher and I had been travelling to cities that were embracing the most amazing street food culture. We both questioned why Calgary didn’t have a scene like this and thought about how we could make it happen. Shortly after we were attending the FFWD Best of Calgary Party and saw Mayor Nenshi coming down the stairs and James jumped on the opportunity and pitched the idea. It wasn’t long after we were throwing Calgary’s first food truck frenzy downtown on Stephen Avenue with the seven original trucks. The rest is history! 

Are there any unique challenges posed with having food trucks in Calgary?
As we all know, Calgary’s weather is less than cooperative; one day it’s sunny and warm, and the next morning you’re waking up to snow. The food truck scene being new to Calgary brings a lot of learning curves. The City has never piloted a project like this before, so this whole process has been learn as you go.

What kind of impact have food trucks had on restaurants in town?
If any impact at all, I would say it’s positive! What some restaurants don’t see is that food trucks attract people. 

Do you have any favourite trucks?
Such a tough question! I love the “Ivy” from Fries and Dolls, which is Fries topped with Honey, Prosciutto, Truffle Oil and Applewood Smoked Cheddar! Another one of my favorites would be the Jambalaya from Sticky Ricky’s; I had a small meltdown when they took it off the menu for summer but they were nice enough to make a batch for me and freeze it in individual portions!  

What would you say is the role of food trucks in the community?
I think food trucks play a huge role in the community. The trucks bring people together with the common interest of delicious eats.  

Are there any new trucks in town? Any upcoming events?
It seems like there are always new trucks jumping on board. One of our newest trucks is called the “Fresh Mobile Bistro.” The truck started up last year in New Brunswick, but then saw the rate in which the food truck scene in Calgary is growing and the owner moved the operation out to Calgary this spring. The Fresh Mobile truck thrives on using all fresh and local ingredients and the truck has made an awesome addition to the Calgary street food scene.  

As for events, we will be hosting our second annual “Feast in the East” again this October in the East Village. This is a two-day food truck festival with 20+ trucks. There are a lot of fun elements to this festival, including our “Feasty” awards for the top three food trucks in our “Food Truck Throw Down,” where the trucks are given three mystery ingredients to make a dish and then all the dishes are presented to a panel of celebrity judges. We also do a pumpkin-carving contest where each truck carves a pumpkin and we encourage attendees to vote for their favourite pumpkin online. The winning truck receives $500 to donate to the charity of their choice. 

To follow your favourite food trucks and to find out where they’re serving today, click here.


All Images Courtesy Of: YYC Food Trucks