Food truck festival here April 16

More than 20 food trucks will roll into Heritage Park for the Fraser Valley Food Truck Festival event in Chilliwack on April 16.

Alan Watson serves up a chicken shawarma from Stolovaya

Alan Watson serves up a chicken shawarma from Stolovaya

Enjoy tasty food and good times as the annual Fraser Valley Food Truck Festival rolls into Chilliwack on April 16.

Presented by Memory Laine Events, there will be upwards of 20 trucks parked at Heritage Park this year, and event organizer Laine Ogilvie expects to see more visitors than ever before.

Their first food truck festival event in Chilliwack back in 2014 was “insane, and awesome,” Ogilvie said. Trucks and organizers were a bit overwhelmed by the 7,000 excited foodies who showed up, “but we knew we were onto something,” she explained.

They expanded into additional cities across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley for 2015.

This year, they’ve restructured the event and dropped the $2 admission fee. They’ve also introduced an artisan market into the mix, with vendors selling jewellery, baked goods, handmade soaps, and much more.

The 2016 festival plan includes eight events, now expanding into Langley for the first time. “It’s great. Cities are coming to us and saying, ‘We want to do this in our city,'” Ogilvie enthused.

The first event in Port Moody last weekend was a huge success, with over 10,000 people in attendance. They’re hoping to keep that momentum going as events continue through the spring.

At least three of the participating food trucks this year are from Chilliwack, including Stolovaya Russian Cuisine.

In 2014, after a 35 year career in the broadcasting industry, Alan Watson was looking for a new project to ignite his passion.

“I thought, ‘Well, the food truck craze is going full tilt. Let’s give it a shot and see what happens,'” he explained.

He spent more than a year designing and building his shiny red 25-foot trailer, decked out with all the amenities and appliances of a commercial kitchen, including his favourite piece – the computerized convection steam oven.

Together, Alan and his wife Evgenia developed a menu of borscht, salads, and blinis – a crepe-like wrap using sweet or savoury ingredients – inspired by the cuisine they enjoy while visiting Evgenia’s hometown back in Russia.

“Because it’s Russian, nobody else is doing it,” he said. “And that’s a good thing, it gets peoples’ attention.”

They took the truck out for it’s first big season in 2015, and learned a lot through the process.

It takes a bit of trial and error to know which events to go to, what to bring with you, how much to make, and most importantly, which menu items will be successful.

This year he’s presenting his newly refined menu that’s quick to serve, cost-effective, and delicious to eat.

They now offer a Russian take on shawarma wraps. Alan marinates boneless chicken in a Middle Eastern spice blend, olive oil and lemon juice for 24 hours. He then cooks it on the vertical broiler for three hours, before combining it with a homemade fresh vegetable salad, wrapping it into a tortilla, with a generous squeeze of garlic aioli.

This duo also serves up delicious “lazy” cabbage rolls, perogies, and pelmeni, served with sour cream and fresh dill.

After a sell-out event like Port Moody last weekend, Alan’s excited about all the fun community events they’re booked into for the season, like Party in the Park, the Chilliwack Air Show, Garlic Festival and many more.

“Come try us,” he says, as he proudly holds up the debit machine he’s added to the truck this year.

While enjoying great food with family and friends, attendees will enjoy music from Big Voodoo, face painters, balloon twisters, access to the artisan market, beer garden and more.

The Chilliwack stopover of the Fraser Valley Food Truck Festival takes place Saturday, April 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Heritage Park (44140 Luckakuck Way).

Admission is free, parking is by donation. The event is rain or shine. Visit fvfoodtruckfestival.com to learn more.

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