Planting a flag Vegan food truck Bright Side Kitchen rolls with Le Burger Week’s focus on meat-free fare
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This article was published 30/08/2022 (214 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
What better time to launch a vegan food truck than during a national showcase of inventive plant-based burgers?
When Kirstie Brooks found out this year’s Le Burger Week festival was promoting vegan and vegetarian patties, it felt like serendipity.
“It just seems like great timing,” says the owner of Bright Side Kitchen. “We thought we would take advantage of that and come out with our really fun summer barbecue menu.”
Bright Side has been in the works since 2020, when Brooks received a grant of $25,000 for her vegan food truck idea from Earth’s Own Food Company, a Canadian manufacturer of plant-based beverage products.
The project was put on hold due to some unforeseen personal events — namely, a curling accident that left her with a broken vertebra, and the birth of her first child — but the business is finally ready to hit the road.
With the help of Food Trucks International, a local company specializing in food-truck construction, Brooks has turned a vintage service vehicle into a bright, pastel purple mobile kitchen.
“It’s better than I could have imagined,” she says of the retrofitted 1974 GMC Grumman truck. “We had it parked on our street yesterday and everyone thought it was brand new.”
Bright Side is all about vegan comfort food, so coming up with a crowd-pleasing burger was a fitting assignment.
Brooks’ entry, called the Plant Boy, is a nod to the infamous Fat Boy burger from Junior’s Restaurant. The patty and requisite chili sauce are made from Impossible brand ground meat substitute and served with lettuce, pickles and mustard on a soft brioche bun.
It’s a fresh take on a nostalgic burger that Brooks hopes vegans and non-vegans alike will enjoy.
“New foods can be intimidating, so when there’s an item we’re familiar with, it’s an easy entry point to try something different,” she says. “You don’t need to compromise on taste to enjoy a plant-based meal and you don’t need to be vegan to enjoy a plant-based meal.”
The Plant Boy will be available at select times during Le Burger Week, with the first pop-up scheduled for Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Bonnycastle Park on Assiniboine Avenue. Bright Side will also be at Winnipeg VegFest on Sept. 10 at the University of Winnipeg. Follow the truck on Instagram (@brightsidewpg) and Facebook (Bright Side Kitchen) for detailed updates.
More than 200 Winnipeg restaurants are taking part in this year’s Le Burger Week festivities from Sept. 1 to 14, but only a handful are going the plant-based route.
Earlier this year, organizers announced the 11th iteration of the Canada-wide food festival would focus on plant-based burgers owing to “strong demand for meat alternatives.” While restaurants were encouraged to follow the theme, vegan or vegetarian entries weren’t required to participate.
For Danny Van Lancker, co-owner of Rae’s Bistro in North Kildonan, showcasing a meat-free burger didn’t mesh with his restaurant’s year-round concept.
“We’re a meat house; everything we do is meat,” Van Lancker says. “A big part of Burger Week is (getting) new people in the door. We want to make sure that whatever they try is an accurate representation of what we have on our regular menu.”
Rae’s offers a new burger special every week of the year — an ongoing form of product testing that comes in handy during Burger Week. This year’s entry, called Don’t Go Bacon My Heart, features a six-ounce beef patty topped with thick-cut maple bacon, aged white cheddar, beet chips and black currant jam on a toasted pretzel bun. It’s the epitome of an eatery where even the French fries are cooked in beef fat.
Over at Modern Electric Lunch, serving up a vegan burger was an equally on-brand decision.
“Probably 50 per cent (of our menu) is vegan,” says general manager Madeleine Olvera. “So we fit right into that.”
Last year, during their first crack at Burger Week, the breakfast and lunch café on Main Street also submitted a plant-based entry in an effort to stand out from the crowd. Customers responded positively and it was a no-brainer to carry on the tradition this year — especially considering the event’s theme.
“I think it’s a nice direction to nudge people,” Olvera says. “It’s just good for the environment; that’s why our restaurant does it. We try to be as conscious as possible.”
The Burg with No Name — a Tex-Mex-inspired creation featuring a black bean patty, jackfruit pulled “pork,” vegan nacho cheese, candied jalapenos, pickled red onions, charred onion and sambal aioli, hickory sticks, shredded lettuce on a potato bun — will be available at Modern Electric Lunch beginning Thursday.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Le Burger Week, veggie-style
This year, organizers of the two-week food festival are encouraging restaurants to create plant-based burger entries.
See below for a sampling of the vegan and vegetarian options available in Winnipeg until Sept. 14.
Visit leburgerweek.com for a full list of burgers and to vote for your favourites.
The Saucy Fun-gi
Roughage Eatery, 126 Sherbrook St., $20
Homemade black bean and mushroom patty topped with pulled mushrooms in a zesty barbecue sauce, a layer of cashew pepper cheddar cheeze, with smoky Bacun, lettuce, pickles, white onion and soy mayo. Served with tortilla chips and cheeze.
The Impossible Rodeo Burger
Wayback Burgers, 1255 St. James St., $12.99
A plant-based Texan delight topped with cheddar cheese, crispy onion rings and tangy barbecue sauce.
The Power Plant
Big Smoke Burger, 555 Sterling Lyon Pkwy., $13.70
Beyond Meat patty, smoked cheddar cheese, rosemary garlic aioli, banana peppers, onions, chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato.
Joey Kenaston, 1550 Kenaston Blvd., $22.50
Crispy-sweet soy-marinated tofu, pickled daikon, arugula slaw, umami mayo on a potato bun. Served with fries.
Khao House, 625 Portage Ave., $16
Patty of beets, chickpea, oatmeal and red bean with miso yogurt sauce, caramelized onions, chili-orange marmalade, cilantro salad and “cheese” on a pretzel bun.
All Fluffed Up and Nowhere to Go
Saucers Cafe, 570 Academy Rd., $10
Chocolate cheesecake patty topped with berry sauce, white chocolate matcha leaves and whipped cream cheese served inside an Oh Doughnuts doughnut.