Food truck profiles: Tikka Tomato | Culture
After owning and operating a diner-style restaurant for 20 years, selling it to train in fine dining establishments, and then hosting private events, it’s fair to say that Geeta Patel is a master of the culinary world.
His knowledge does not end there. The month of January marks the third anniversary of the opening of its own food truck, Tikka Tomato.
Tikka Tomato serves high quality Indian dishes fused with popular Canadian cuisine. Their Bombay poutine, topped with authentic butter chicken, melted cheese and yogurt cream, is among the most unique.
Patel, who grew up in an Indian household, first developed a passion for cooking by helping his mother in the kitchen. These early encounters with food and flavor are what inspired the truck menu.
“I like to go the traditional route,” says Patel. “The spices are ground at home, which makes a difference – they are more potent. “
This authenticity and friendliness is reflected in more than just the company’s food. His son, a professional graphic designer, designed the truck as well as the company’s entire web and social media presence.
For the exterior of the truck, Patel was influenced by brightly colored Indian quilts, which her son was able to bring to life.
“We get so much feedback about the truck,” she says. “He’s really good at what he does.
Patel sees the truck as a mobile kitchen and an extension of his catering business. The more she did catering, the more she realized that she needed an industrial kitchen that was clean, reliable and suited to her needs.
Amid these concerns and the growing success of the restaurant business, Patel’s husband was fired. Rather than sit in despair, she decided to take it upon herself to achieve one of her long-term goals: opening a food truck.
“We bought a truck that was just a delivery truck – it was totally empty, dirty, everything,” Patel says. “We cleaned it up, rearranged it and that’s how we started. “
It is this dynamism and determination that make Tikka Tomato the company it is today. People come to the truck to taste the familiarity or even to try something new. Patel hopes people who haven’t had access to flavors like Tikka Tomato’s can find solace in their ignorance.
“We meet people who are a little suspicious, a little scared all the time, so we just tell them what the ingredients are,” she says.
Since operating on the Western University campus for the first time this year, the truck has received an overwhelmingly positive reception.
There were times when the students bought something, ate it, and came straight back to get the same thing to take home. Tandoori chicken wraps and classic butter chicken were the most popular.
“I had a student, she had never tried Indian food and she tried aloo gobi,” Patel explains. “She texted me and said it was phenomenal, she loved it so much.”
Looking back on his college experience and the past three years, Patel has no regrets about entering the local food truck scene.
“I didn’t want to go back to bricks and mortar anymore,” she says. “I thought that instead of people coming to us, we can go to people. “