By NICK FEARNS
The Canadian Food and Wine Institute isn’t happy just feeding people at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, now it’s sending Bench on the GO, the college’s food truck, to fill the stomachs of Welland campus students with tasty offerings.
The food truck is part of the culinary students’ food innovation class. Students have input on the menu, and this freedom allows them to implement new ideas.
“This was the second time the food truck has come to the Welland campus,” says Gary Torraville, manager of Business, Student and Community Support at Niagara College. “The students take what they learn in class and get a chance to apply it.”
“The demand has been amazing,” says Torraville. The visit was promoted and marketed through Facebook, Blackboard and email and was worked “beyond expectations.”
Food trucks have become increasingly popular across North America with TV shows like Eat Street and The Great Food Truck Race, both broadcast by Food Network Canada.
“Go to all the major cities in North America and you can locate where all the food trucks are in the city. We want to be part of that culture,” says Craig Youdale, the acting dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, in a press release.
The Niagara College food truck has a fully equipped kitchen including a sandwich station, flat-top grill, multiple fryers, two convection ovens, full refrigeration and two freezers. The stainless steel interior helps maintain cleanliness, and is attractive for its aesthetic appeal.
“We can hook it up but we could also drive it to the middle of the vineyard and cater an entire dinner,” Youdale says.
Torraville says that the food truck will be coming to the Welland campus more regularly following the break week, making appearances on Wednesdays and Fridays.
On Oct. 18, the truck was offering a menu of traditional poutine, curry with an option to add chicken, peameal bacon with sweet balsamic onion jam and mustard, and a deep-fried brownie with Niagara College beer caramel.
The food truck had a slight set back, running short of gravy, but rectified it by offering curry poutine in lieu of the traditional gravy.
Greg Glidden and Gordie Gaston, both Niagara College students, each had the curry poutine, which Glidden described as “fantastic.” Gaston says the curry poutine was “really good” adding that he had never had anything like it before. Glidden and Gaston agreed they would definitely come back to eat at the truck again.
Gerold Miller, 29, in the Electrical Engineer Technician program, says that he hadn’t visited a food truck before, other than a fry wagon. Miller says the offerings were “definitely different” and that he would probably be back again.
He added that he really liked the fact the menu was posted online and prices were “very fair. “
Echoing that, Glidden says the food truck had “great prices.”
The most expensive item offered, the crispy peameal bacon on a Kaiser roll, was $6 with the least expensive item, the deep-fried brownie, costing $3.
Those hoping to try a deep-fried brownie may be out of luck for now as the menu will change from week to week, giving culinary students a chance to experiment and share their love of food with students at the other campus.