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Cheese Boutique’s food truck is hosting Toronto’s top chefs for parking lot pop-ups

By Renée Suen| Photography by Daniel Neuhaus
Cheese Boutique's food truck is hosting Toronto's top chefs for parking lot pop-ups
Chef Julie Marteleira (centre) with her mother and sister, for their food truck takeover at Cheese Boutique

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As if there weren’t already enough reasons to visit the Cheese Boutique, owner and maître fromager (so, cheese master) Afrim Pristine is adding one more: He’s handing the keys to his on-site food truck over to a different Toronto chef every weekend from now until August, turning the space outside the Ripley Avenue shop into a pop-up dining destination.

The idea started on a whim when chefs Ivana Raca and Alida Solomon used the truck for their December pop-ups. “It’s kind of a no-brainer: I’ve got a truck, the chefs get to keep all the sales and they bring customers in who then get to enjoy really good food,” Pristine says. “Everybody wins.”

So far the food truck has hosted the likes of Victor Barry’s Victory Burger and Petisco Kitchen, Leña chef Julie Marteleira’s new Instagram-based business. Although she’s never worked on a food truck before, Marteleira approached the experience the way she would for catering without sit-down service. “We designed a quick-service menu with a couple of made-to-order things. But in terms of service—the way you set up the line and the kitchen—it’s similar,” says Marteleira.

Cheese Boutique's food truck is hosting Toronto's top chefs for parking lot pop-ups
Ladling out some caldo verde soup, perfect for what happened to be a chilly weekend

 

Cheese Boutique's food truck is hosting Toronto's top chefs for parking lot pop-ups
Crispy salt cod fritters

Her food truck menu last weekend featured hearty caldo verde soup, a traditional potato, kale and chorizo soup; shrimp patties served with a spicy aïoli; freshly fried salt cod and potato fritters; and pork bifana, shaved pork shoulder on a flat-top griddled bun.

Other restaurants and chefs on the lineup include Antler, Carbon Bar, Chen Chen Hot Chicken, Curry King, Familiglia Baldassare, Kitchen Guerrilla, Marben, La Palma, Peter Pan Bistro, Primrose Bagel Co., Le Swan and celeb chefs Devan Rajkumar and Romain Avril.

Cheese Boutique's food truck is hosting Toronto's top chefs for parking lot pop-ups
The pork bifana, a hulking pork shoulder sandwich

 

Cheese Boutique's food truck is hosting Toronto's top chefs for parking lot pop-ups
A gorgeous slice of the almond tart

“I’m really happy with the lineup. I wish we had more dates available,” says Pristine, who also hints that something big is in the works for August. “Now more than ever, the Cheese Boutique is trying to bring the industry together. And we’ll continue to do so throughout the spring and summer.”

The food truck is parked on Ripley Avenue across from Cheese Boutique’s soon-to-open gift store and café. Chefs and their menus will be announced every Wednesday on Cheese Boutique’s Instagram. Covid safety protocols are in place, but Pristine plans to install some spaced-apart outdoor benches when the weather warms up.

Cheese Boutique, 45 Ripley Ave., cheeseboutique.com, @cheeseboutique

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