Enid Grace has been traveling since she was 15, feeding her hunger for world culture and cuisine. Now she has turned what she’s learned into a way to make a living, serving up flavours from around the world to casual diners in Wellington, from a funky little food cart she calls Passport. Here Enid tells her tale.
“I launched my food truck on Canada Day and I’m having a great time. I’ve spent years collecting recipes from around the world, but this venture came together in about three weeks. The time was so right for it. I wanted something fun and light to do for summer. My girlfriend runs the Slow Taco food cart in Bloomfield, and we got talking. I decided to set up in Wellington because I know the owner of the building I work in front of. My friend has a gallery there. In a matter of days I figured out the concept, bought the cart and opened.
I call my food truck Passport because it’s all about my love of travel and my love of food. I travel a LOT, and wherever I go, I learn the culture and the food. I talk to professional cooks and to home cooks, and I learn their recipes and bring them home.
I’m aiming to feature a different food each week. This weekend it’s New Orleans, next week it will be Barcelona and so forth until, weather permitting, the end of October. Mixing it up keeps people coming back because there’s always something new, and it keeps me from getting bored, because I love it.
I started traveling at 15 when I went to the Netherlands and then France and Belgium. I’ve visited Italy the most, and I’ve lived there for long stretches of time. I’ve lived and traveled in Spain and lots of places in Europe, the Southern United States, Central and South America. So there will be a LOT of cuisines featured on my truck! I’m inspired not just by the food, but by the people I meet in different places, the people cooking and serving and eating it. When they see my strong and genuine interest in their traditions and cuisine they are happy to teach me recipes. Today’s sauces are very old Catalan recipes I learned from older ladies running restaurants in Spain. The woman who gave me this particular one got it from her grandmother, so it’s not your modernized version. You get the flavour of how food was prepared 50, even 100 years ago.
Food carts definitely add to the culinary scene in The County. They are small and fun and keep people interested. People wonder where I’m going next with the menu and they ask me where I’m going to actually be on a certain date because they’re planning their next visit and want to find me.
It’s fun to give people a surprise, a bit of variety. Instead of committing to a big plate of food they’ve never tried before, say this Catalan-style sausage, they can just try a little bit with me. I give them a five-minute trip to somewhere else. I really try to make it an authentic taste, too, not the tourist version but food the locals eat every day. Food that I shared with them and learned how to make.
I grew up in Rednersville and moved back to The County about six years ago. My fiancé and I are rebuilding an old farmhouse on County Rd. 10. He grew up here, too, so this is home. We have great community support, most of my family lives here. He and I travel together now as often as I can. If we’re lucky, we can go away for two or three months, but we always have something to come back to.
These days there really is enough diversity and creativity and new things happening here to keep people our age interested. We’ve got friends from 20 to 80 years old. I have friends I’ve known since kindergarten, and we mix with such a variety of people who we’ve worked with here and there or who are visiting. Doing my food truck is great because I meet people constantly. You get to hear everybody’s story.
My fiance bought our property 12 years ago and has single handedly stripped it down and rebuilt it. It’s his masterpiece. He did the wiring and plumbing and everything. It’s been a labour of love for 10 years, and now we’re just about finished. I’ve helped, but I’m mainly aesthetics. He was a landscape architect but he’s at home right now writing his first book. Like a lot of people in The County, we do as many things as we can just so we can have a life here. I never wanted that 9 to 5 same thing every day or going back and forth to the city for work.
I run my food cart four days a week and the rest of the time I’m working on another business. Really it’s branding myself. I’m making a food and travel website with recipes and food photography and stories of where I’ve been. It’s been in the works for eight months, but I got sidelined when I took on an overwhelming position last year. That’s part of my inspiration for the food truck summer, it gives me more time. I can work at home three days a week and then mix it up in Wellington for four days and make some money. It works perfectly for our no kids, just-the-two-of-us lifestyle.
For the website I have to build considerable inventory before I go live. I’m doing a lot of recipe testing, food photography and recipe development. People are encouraging me to do travel fiction and non- fiction writing, so I will probably spend the winter doing that part.
I already have a following for my food because I was a pastry chef for a few years in Wellington, and people asked me to come back and do something. I’ve got customers and fans of the food truck, and I’m putting stuff out on social media now about the website, so when I’m ready to go live I can trigger my social media following and send them to the site.
Practically speaking, I got my food cart from Willie Dogs in Napanee. Andrea Brown who runs Slow Taco is my girlfriend from high school. She really helped me get this off the ground. I drove to Napanee and said show me what you’ve got, and then said, yep I think I can work with. Three days later I picked it up, it took four days for the inspections and permits and insurance and it all came together 24 hours before Canada Day.
I had no problem with the bylaws or arranging permits. I am health inspected, fire inspected and TSSA inspected. I’m fully insured and protected and everybody around me is protected! And I’m having a lot of fun.
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