On The Road With Jamaican Food
What A Jerk Al Foster Is These Days
By Stephen Weir Photographs and story for Caribbean Camera
What a Jerk. Yes, Al “Alos” Foster (Pan Fantasy) has been a big jerk this month. Really. And if his new food truck takes off, it will be Mr. Jerk, thank you.
Last week the Jamaican Canadian chef rolled out a new food truck. The Caribbean Camera missed his very first gig at the intersection of Rexdale Blvd and Islington Avenue, but, the paper did catch up with him on his second night on the streets of Toronto last Wednesday evening. He was selling his jerk chicken at the Winona Drive Senior Public School concert on Winona in midtown Toronto.
There was a large line-up of students and parents when the Caribbean Camera first arrived. The large black truck was parked at the side of the road and had a large sign showing a list of low cost comfort foods. “Menu is elastic based on whatever event I am at.” Said Al Foster. “Tonight we did chicken fingers, chips along with our jerk chicken. We were selling the things that students like. We are going to be introducing jerk pork and other Jamaican dishes in the coming days and weeks.”
The food truck has a big clean kitchen and an easy to reach order window. It also has a logo which has a picture of a chef cooking jerk. “ I used a stock image of a chef for the logo and after I added a beard to the cartoon I was shocked to see it looks like me! We are keeping it.”
Al Foster is an itinerant music teacher (pan) within the Toronto District School Board and is the music arranger for the Ontario’s top steel drum orchestra Pan Fanatsy. Pan Fantasy has won the Pan Alive steel drum competition six times in a row and counting.
“ I have always been involved in hospitality and studied it along with music in my college days,” he continued. “Like I say on Facebook, I'm STILL involved in pan (and music) so don’t ask me if I am quitting, I am not. lolol .“
The What A Jerk truck is leased but Al Foster hopes that as his business grows he will be able to buy it. Just two weeks in, he still getting all his permits put together so that he can work all over the GTA. “The food truck industry in Toronto, is amazingly regulated, but, the people in this city are into food trucks big time. For me it is cheaper than starting up a restaurant.”
While there are now a lot of food trucks working the streets of the city Al Foster is one of the few road chefs serving Jamaican food. As summer approaches the What A Jerk truck is being booked into events around the GTA. Mr. Foster is going to be at the Scarborough Food Truck Festival this weekend and the Irie Festival in Mississauga next month. He will have his truck most evenings near the Rexdale Blvd/Islington Avenue intersection.
Mr. Foster hopes to be taking part in the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and at Mas Camp events this summer. What A Jerk will post food truck location news on its Social Media sites.