The upcoming Stuft truck plans to introduce gourmet stuffed hot dogs to the Ontario food truck scene.
As much as we all complain about the lack of diverse street food in Toronto, if there's one thing we're known for internationally, it's our street meat. Our iconic street dogs are sought after by celebrities during film festivals and have been a staple late night snack for many years. Enter David Orzakovski and Lance Freelan, a marketer and an accountant that want to change our perceptions of hot dogs. Or maybe they just want to give you a gourmet option.
Stuft Sausages. Photo by David Krovblit
The Stuft truck will specialize in stuffed gourmet sausages, the look and process is different from what you're used to seeing at Toronto hot dog carts. Where conventional hot dog buns are sliced and then filled with meat and toppings, the stuft sausage bun is toasted on spike toasters, then stuffed with your selection of sauce and meat. The result is an explosion of flavours—it's arguably less messy, too.
I had the chance to chat with owners David Orzakovski and Lance Freelan as they prepped for their launch this weekend at the CNE food truck rally.
Suresh Doss: Walk me through how this happened. So you're an accountant (Lance) and you're in marketing (David), and, now you have a food truck?
David Orzakovski: We have a food truck! *laughs*. Naturally. Doesn't that make sense?
Lance Freelan: You know what, both of us have an entrepreneurial spirit, and we both have a love of food. We had a few ideas, but we ran with this idea.
DO: We were also thinking that the whole burger fad needed competition. There's burger joint after burger joint but no competition on the hot dog front and Toronto is known nationally and internationally for its street meat.
SD: It totally is, funny you should say that. People argue that Toronto doesn't have a diverse street food scene, but we're known far and wide for our street meat.
DO: We wanted to take it to the next level. We wanted to make a better product.
SD: So you're doing something different with the hot dogs?
DO: The food truck opens up the options to do something different. We're not limited like the food carts. We can get creative with the buns, the sauces, etc.
LF: So that started our creative process to do something different with the hot dogs.
DO: We have these spike toasters where we toast the buns, and then we coat the inside of the bun with a sauce and then stuff it with a sausage.
SD: What inspired you to do this?
DO: I saw this on a trip to Spain and I thought it was a cool idea. I approached Lance and shared the idea with him. First we thought, why don't we do gourmet toppings? But then we decided to go with the stuffed sausage concept.
SD: The bread doens't look your standard hotdog vessel.
LF: The bread is called a dutch crunch.
DO: We didn't want just any old bun. We wanted a custom bun. The texture and crunch were important to us.
LF: We're the only ones that have this bread. Ace Bakery makes it specifically for us.
SD: Tell me about the meat.
DO: So we wanted to have all the meats. Lamb, poultry, beef, pork, but we also wanted to take it to the next level. So we started playing around with the meat blends. For example with beef, we mixed it with portobello mushrooms, creamy horseradish, and some thyme. With pork we wanted to go a little sweeter, so we added chunks of pineapple, and some fennel.
SD: So this is all in the blend, we're not talking sauces?
LF: This is all inside the blend. We get all our sausages from The Butcher Shoppe. We fine tuned the recipes with them, and they're now preparing the custom sausages for us.
DO: (picks up another box of sausages) This is our lamb/beef blend with spinach and feta.
LF: We also have a Thai chicken sausage which will be stuffed with green curry, some cilantro, and thai chili.
DO: We're really trying to create a streamlined system, fast service, short waits.
LF: We're trying to avoid some of my pet peeves with food trucks in general. One is running out of food. We have three fridges on this truck, and we can probably fit about 500 sausages on this truck. Also, I don't want people waiting an hour for food. So we're trying to smooth out our process to make sure that doesn't happen.
SD: Okay, but you're opening a truck in a city that doesn't really care about street food right now. A city that's moving at a snail's pace when it comes to any sort of progress on the street food front. Why take that risk?
LF: I think there are a lot of opportunities out there. Give it a bit of time and I believe the city will evolve.
DO: The demand is there. We're not depending on the city though. We're going to get creative with how we use the truck. We may use the truck as a delivery service for private events. We're looking at a number of different types of events.
SD: What is the best case scenario for street food in Toronto?
LF: I'm not looking to roam a lot, and park anywhere. I want good spots. Every week I want to move between food zones. To have that consistency and move between key neighborhoods.
DO: I'd love to see food trucks enter the parks and have some sort of system there. Designated areas with picnic tables.
SD: Sounds like you're both quite conscious about restaurants. What about the restaurants and the complaints and fears about food trucks stealing business?
LF: I think food trucks drive traffic to neighbourhoods, it attracts attention.
DO: There's a fear of our overhead and there might be a little jealously about that.
LF: We're a different kind of business, we're not a full service restaurant.
DO: I am sympathetic to it, but I think we can all work together and evolve and create a better food scene. The restaurants should know that we want to work together.
SD: So you're going to be at the CNE this weekend? What else is in store for Stuft?
LF: We'll be participating in the Queen West art crawl, we have a private event over Labour Day weekend, and a few other events lined up.
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Written by Suresh Doss
Suresh Doss is the publisher of SpotlightToronto.com and Rickshawmag.com. Founder of the Food Truck Eats festival, Suresh has been a pioneer for the Street food movement in Toronto. In 2011, He was awarded the VQA Promoter’s Award for outstanding achievement in the Media category in the promotion of Ontario VQA Wines. Suresh is also the Global Editor for Whitecap’s StreetEats series of travel guides, which focuses on the best street food across North America.