The revolution may not be televised, but if Korey Klein has his way, it will be delicious.
"We're trying to change the way people think about eating food," explained Klein, who launched the Whistler Wood Fire Pizza Company with his wife six years ago.
Since then, Klein has dished out made-from-scratch pizza at weddings, festivals and even the odd movie set throughout the Sea to Sky and Lower Mainland, and as his business has grown, so too has his food truck.
What started with a small Forno pizza oven has since evolved into a state-of-the-art, custom-made mobile truck that features a 360-degree rotating wood-fired copper oven that can bake a full pizza in less than 90 seconds.
"This is a project that, when we first started in 2010, this was the vision we originally had, but it was just too expensive and there were too many unknowns," Klein explained. "It's almost like the Swiss army knife of food trucks."
It was essential for Klein's latest truck to not only stay true to the traditions of authentic Neopolitan-style pizza — the oven's French-made ceramic insert is almost two centuries old — but also that it offer diners a window into the cooking experience.
"The inside of the truck had to be special, but the outside had to be more special. I wanted a concept where people could see (the oven)," said Klein. That means the Le Panyol oven was designed to be able to rotate outside of the vehicle. This not only protects employees from the weather, but creates an added element of animation that Klein said is unlike any other food truck he's come across.
"Food trucks are kind of all the same, they're cookie cutter. They're very standard. I understand why, because you need a box and a kitchen," he noted. "But we wanted to change the game. We wanted to elevate how people look at food trucks. We wanted to bring an experience that was something completely outside of the box."
After years of discussion, the Resort Municipality of Whistler finally opened the door to mobile food trucks this summer with a rotating cast of vendors that will set up in Whistler's parks on select days. Although he's happy to see the long-anticipated project get off the ground, Klein said he wouldn't be participating in the pilot program.
"I was quite excited that they were able to establish a pilot program for food trucks but the access isn't sustainable for our business model. The way they've structured it is very one-off," he said. "A successful mobile food truck needs to be in locations when it's busy and it's hopping and we can't be sustainable if we're showing up and there are only two or three people in the park. You can't stuff a round peg in a square hole."
Instead, Klein is hopeful local officials will adopt a program modelled after Vancouver where food trucks are permitted to roam instead of having to pay to set up in pre-determined locations for a limited number of days per year. Ideally, he'd like to serve in the village, and thinks other restaurants would benefit from the added competition.
"Competition is what makes your business strong, it keeps you sharp," he said. "It's like when the farmers' market first came to the Upper Village, people were up in arms over it. But it brought so much business and so much commerce to the Upper Village, which was just a black hole. I'd say the same thing for food carts: There's definitely a window where there's no way to feed all these drunken folks walking around and late-night food eaters, and it would be better all around to create a vibe where we have different food (vendors) roaming there. But the village, as they say, is a sacred cow.
"I love Whistler, and it saddens me that I have to drive two hours to leave my thriving town to actually have a food truck."
The Whistler Wood Fired Pizza Company is available for private events and catering, and will be travelling to a number of events this summer, including the Pemberton Music Festival. Check www.whistlerpizzacompany.com to find out when the truck will be appearing near you.
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