As 40 food trucks prepared to gather at the Olympic Park Esplanade this afternoon for the last First Fridays event of 2014, Gaëlle Cerf took a few minutes to sum up the season that was in Montreal street food.
The Grumman 78 partner and vice-president of the l'Association des restaurateurs de rue du Québec will have little time to relax: as the city widens the purview of street food operators beyond the borders of Ville-Marie, the 2015 season promises to be busy.
How do you feel about the 2014 food truck season?
I'm happy. I know the trucks are emotional, it's like the end of summer camp. The party's over. We're planning next year because obviously we're going to have a bigger playground.
Why is that?
The city is supposed to open up street food beyond Ville-Marie. They passed a règlement municipale. I'm not sure how the boroughs will react but this was the plan two years ago. It's amazing that they're following the schedule.
How do you coordinate so many trucks over such a large area?
Our concern is we want to make sure that the calendar of the trucks is centralized. If every borough runs their own calendar, it will be chaotic. We have 46 members in the association and 19 boroughs. For the last two years we've been running the calendar. We hope it will continue that way.
How do you make sure that happens?
We can't ensure it will be us. We hope that the city will be wise enough. It's a lot of work and it takes a lot of time. I'll need two people on that for six months, probably more.
What I also hope is that we open up year-round service. Some are able to do it. But we need more trucks that are winterized and more cooperation from the city. Most trucks are shutting down in the next month because you need running water. What I'd also love for the next season is something that's well thought out. Some spots work better on weekends, others at night, others at lunch. We need more coordination, to open up spaces near more parks in residential areas maybe, next to pools, arenas. I'm sure the boroughs know their needs and can help us with that. We can coordinate that. It would be great.
Overall how do you grade 2014 in comparison with 2013?
This season went better. We had better spots. But obviously what we did in Rosemont, for lunch, in such a residential area, we needed more trucks at night. That was a lesson.
But we should be proud of what we have in Montreal. We hosted some food truck people from Los Angeles for a First Fridays event earlier this summer. I told them how First Fridays in L.A. had inspired us and they said that the L.A. scene was nothing like Montreal. That was really nice to hear.
What do you expect from tonight, the last First Fridays of the year?
Tonight is going to be amazing. The Dead Obies are playing and it's their only free show of the season. I just heard the soundcheck and it was awesome. We have 40 trucks ready to go - they're starting to set up right now. The weather is cooperating. I'm wearing a t-shirt. And we have a shitload of cold beer.