Street Chicken Biryani. That was my lunch today, bought from Seemab Ahmad’s shiny new Central Asian/Persian food stall in front of City Hall. One of several pilot projects launched today by the City’s Toronto a la cart project to increase the ethnic and cultural diversity of street food, Seemab entered the fray of street food vendors parked at Nathan Phillips Square.
The cart itself is much more open that the traditional hot dog stand, with black flaps in the front and back held open as well as exposed sides, revealing a kitchen complete with a fridge, tap and sink and even a bit of a stove top. Along with the green “Pass” stuck onto one side and the name of the cook on the other, the cart definitely gives off more of a restaurant vibe than the traditional enclosed hot dog stand.
A little further west was Blair and Kathy Bonivento’s Greek food stall (pictured above) who were serving delicious-looking souvlaki.
Although it’s great to have more choices of street food, it’s too bad the stalls themselves don’t reflect the diversity of the food being offered. Not only were the two stalls at City Hall identical, but all the cooks were wearing the same yellow uniforms, as if they were part of one big chain.
Maybe this chain-aesthetic is only temporary as part of the pilot project. Hopefully these vendors will be able to compete with the slightly cheaper hot dog stands (meals seem to be $5 at many carts). Then they might be able to individualize their carts and outfits like their neighbours selling poutine, hot dogs and burgers out of a range of vehicles and sidewalk stalls while dressed in their own clothes.
Photos by Jake Schabas