Gorilla Cheese – Voted Best Food Truck

We asked Canadian Living Facebook fans, Twitter followers and Canadian foodies to share their favourite Canadian food truck with us. Find the top choices – along with a delicious pulled pork recipe – in our June 2013 issue (on stands now).

One food truck stood out as a clear favourite, getting the most comments and votes on our Facebook page – Gorilla Cheese.

The Gorilla Cheese Food Truck

This gourmet grilled cheese food truck based out of Hamilton, Ontario has a huge following. The black truck adorned with a giant gorilla travels between Niagara and Toronto dishing out delicious grilled cheese sandwiches to hungry masses.

We reached out to owner and operator, Graeme Smith, to answer a few questions about the ups and downs and ins and outs of running a food truck. Here’s what he had to share:

How did you get started in the food truck business?
Many years ago, I came up with the concept of Gorilla Cheese, a restaurant that would specialize in different types of high-end grilled cheese sandwiches. While I was working on the business plan, a friend suggested doing it as a food truck, and I thought it was a great idea that could launch the company at a lesser cost than a brick-and-mortar establishment. The food truck boom had started a year or so before in America, but it was new to Canada, so I knew it could be an ideal platform for the concept. The business license and trademark was purchased, and a few months later, Gorilla Cheese had it’s grand opening on the steps of Hamilton City Hall.

What is your working background?
I’ve had a hundred jobs over the years. At one time, I was a car salesman, a private investigator and a disc jockey! For the past 7 years, I was a steelmaker, and the frequent layoffs and lockouts provided me with the opportunity to go to culinary school and start the business.

What’s the best part of owning/operating your food truck?
I’ve been able to visit great places that I would never have been to had I not been operating the food truck. The experiences and the great comments from the customers are the best parts.

What’s the biggest challenge involved in owning/operating a food truck?
One word: Winter.

What was the inspiration for your menu? How did you develop your menu?
Many of the current menu items were from a project I did in culinary school on Gorilla Cheese. I wanted to marry the classic grilled cheese with unique flavours, and I’m always thinking of different combinations that would work. Luckily, grilled cheese is very versatile. I try to balance the menu with carnivorous and vegetarian offerings, and often look to combine classic flavours and integrate them into grilled cheeses. Some are wholly original, and some are based on the classics.

Does your menu change? If so, how often?
There’s always our four or five staples that you can almost always get at the truck, but we often develop new ones that get put into the rotation based on the season and their popularity.

How do you determine the location of your truck?
We get a LOT of emails inviting us to functions, events and festivals, so during the prime season, we’re usually booked into unique places. We fill the other days with our various curbside locations, trying to spread ourselves out and hitting the various communities of Hamilton and surrounding cities.

How do you let folks know where to find you?
Our website has a schedule that is updated on a weekly basis, and we post our services on Facebook and Twitter. This year, I’d like to introduce a telephone hotline, for those people who aren’t necessarily computer-savvy.

What is your favourite food truck?
That depends. There’s so many awesome ones! I like El Gastronomo Vagabundo out of St. Catharines for unique, high-end fare, and I like Hamilton’s Southern Smoke when I want to gorge on glorious meat.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
There’s never a dull moment in the food truck industry. I get approached often by people looking to start up a truck, and I always tell them it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. It ain’t no retirement gig, that’s for sure. But it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and making a living out your passion is the greatest success anybody could ever have. It’s not easy, but it’s awesome.

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