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A Truckin' Good Summer: From Truck to TV
Canada's first mobile gourmet chef is heading to the Food Network

Restaurant Takeover publicity photo of Adam Hynam-Smith

It was indeed a truckin’ good summer, not just for Ontario food trucks but for those that have popped up across the country, eager to bring gourmet street food to the masses. Some argue it’s a trend that won’t last as more continue to hit the streets, and just like any industry, the strongest will survive. And some get lucky. I started this summer-long truck series with El Gastronomo Vagabundo, considered to be the first gourmet food truck in Canada. It seemed fitting to wrap up this cross-Canada food truck adventure with the same people. Oh, but how things can change in one summer!

El Gastronomo is owned by engaged couple, chef Adam Hynam-Smith and Tamara Jensen. Not only have they been slaving away inside a truck and promoting their appearances at events like other truck owners, Adam was approached to be a key player in a new Food Network show, Restaurant Takeover. A new spin on the popular show Restaurant Makeover, the Takeover version adds some new faces; with the help of hidden cameras, two hosts (one chef and one designer) commandeer a failing restaurant, transforming the menu and décor in just six days.

(Photo: Joel Smith)

Breaking into television is something many people hope to do, but it was never on Adam’s agenda (their truck was also featured on the hit show Eat St). Running a food truck and bolstering support for the industry in his hometown of St. Catharines kept him busy enough.  This was his third summer with his food truck and Adam claims it was busier than ever: “More people know about food trucks and understand them. They’re realizing it’s more than just fries and hotdogs and people know there are gourmet food trucks out there.”

I mention the list of new food trucks that launched this summer and ask if there’s room for more. Adam seems to think so: “There’s room but they’ll have to work harder for the buzz. And they have to constantly raise the bar and be consistent. The food and restaurant industry is a hard one to open and survive.” So now, about this TV show…

(Photo: Mike McColl)

The days are long enough operating a food truck during the busy summer season, and Adam admits juggling the truck schedule with shooting a TV show has been tough. “It’s extra work, extra hours…busy, busy all the time with no downtime.” But he adds that, despite the first day jitters, he’s loving every minute of it. The first shoot day was “nerve-wracking,” with different pressures and learning how to do what he already knows how to do (cook and run a kitchen) but doing it differently for television. “I was really nervous at the start and TV is a different world. Something that might take 20 minutes will take 2 hours for TV. And I have to learn to slow down all my movements,” says Adam. “But it’s fantastic fun. I’m enjoying it a lot. I see it as an opportunity to help people. It’s an eye-opening experience.”

Restaurant Takeover premieres Thursday, Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. on Food Network Canada. If you’re interested in applying to be a part of Restaurant Takeover, direct inquiries to restaurants@triconfilms.com.

@elgastronomo

(Photo: Joel Smith)

____

Pay Chen is a TV host, writer, and producer who puts a lot of things in her mouth. If you have a favourite spot in the city to share, follow her on Twitter at @PayChen.

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