The story of the Locavore food truck and Cloudburst Café in Squamish starts 20 kilometres up the road, on the soft, green pastures of Glacier Valley Farm.
Steve Moir and Cory Belano run the local-market, free-range farm on the Squamish Valley Road.
There, they raise heritage pigs, free-range chickens; they grow greens and collect eggs.
Chef Jason Nadeau first became familiar with Glacier Valley about five years ago, when he met with Moir and Belano to discuss a catering opportunity for events at the farm.
"I started (arranging) large catering events for them (from Squamish)," Nadeau recalled. Until then, there had been private caterers coming from Vancouver (to cater at the farm) and one day I decided to make a pitch for it."
Nadeau, who was the chef at the North Vancouver Outdoor School, got the gig and bought a food truck to carry out the work.
But the truck was only being used at the farm a month or so every year. Nadeau likened it to "building a M.A.S.H. unit in a farmer's field."
He said: "It was a full-on working kitchen, health board approved, and was serving 400 people a day for three to four weeks— it deserved greater use."
At the same time, On the Farm Country Market opened on Mamquam Road, with a garden store and small boutiques, and the owner was looking for a food truck to serve customers and to round out the location.
"(The food truck) was sitting unused for 11 months of the year. Why not use it? I worked on a concept and tied it with farm," Nadeau says.
He went to Moir and Belano, who he said put a lot of faith into his abilities as a chef by investing in the venture.
"They had a working farm... and I wanted to utilize that," he said. "The farm was struggling to make enough money to cover the cost of the product. Of course, farmers make the least. They were selling at markets... so we thought, 'What if we added some value to the product and sell it from the truck?'"
Keeping this in mind, Nadeau began to formulate his menu "based on a farm mentality."
The food truck opened in May 2013, with chef Letitia Wan joining the venture. Their menu can be seen at www.locavorefoodtruck.ca.
Locavore's offerings include handmade sandwiches with Glacier Valley pork and poultry, as well as vegetables and eggs. There are rotisserie chickens, salads and roast potatoes.
Nadeau said he looks for top-quality substitutes when needed and buys Pemberton Meadows beef and hotdogs supplied by Two Rivers Specialty Meats.
"I think to be successful in the restaurant industry, because of the amount of energy that goes into it, you really need to do your homework. You need to know who's looking and who wants it. I had a strong feeling that the community would enjoy this," he said.
Before Locavore and Squamish, Nadeau worked in restaurants in Kitsilano and Downtown Vancouver, including Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill in Yaletown and The Boathouse, moving to Squamish to take on the role of chef at The Vancouver Outdoor School.
Five people work in the Locavore truck on a busy day.
"It's big, but five people fill it up. It's not a standard kitchen you can walk around, you've got to move people to be able to open the door," Nadeau said as he readies his team for a busy weekend during the Squamish Valley Music Festival, taking place a short walk away this weekend (Aug. 7 to 10).
"The festival wanted to feed the volunteers here, they approached us about doing breakfasts. But we're also here for our loyal customers. We are open for the whole weekend, morning to night," he said.
Then last November a café space became available at the market. With the continued financial support of Moir and Belano, Cloudburst Café opened, serving Bean Around the World coffee, and providing an indoor place to sit down.
"We felt it was almost a necessity. And it really helped us through the winter. In Squamish, people dress for the weather and they don't mind, but it was nice that people had the choice of coming in," Nadeau said.
Several splashes of olive oil
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks
A few zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
a few onions, sliced
4 or 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Several garden ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
A bay leaf
A few sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
A sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 or 2 bunches fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Begin by sautéing the eggplant and zucchini in a large skillet over high heat with a splash or two of olive oil. Continue cooking, stirring and tossing, until the vegetables are golden brown and tender, 10 minutes or so. Set these vegetables aside in a bowl.
Turn the heat down a bit and continue with another splash or two of olive oil and the bell peppers, cooking them just until they're tender, another five minutes or so. Add them to the first batch of reserved vegetables.
Next, sauté the onions with another splash of olive oil until they soften a bit. Add the garlic and continue for another few minutes.
Lower the heat. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme and simmer until the mixture thickens, another 10 minutes or so. Break up the whole tomatoes into smaller pieces.
Add the reserved vegetables and season the works with salt and pepper. Simmer until everything is heated through.
Stir in the fresh basil and balsamic vinegarand serve immediately.
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