The Niagara Region has always been known as the hot-bed of culinary excellence and world-renowned viticulture in Ontario, and Adam Hynam-Smith and his partner, Tamara Jensen, wanted to be a part of it.
Australian Adam and Canadian Tamara met in England and decided to return to Tamara’s homeland. Tamara felt stagnant in her job in research and analytics, and they decided they needed a change. They shared a love for food and travelling and decided they wanted to open their own restaurant. Knowing that opening a conventional restaurant was expensive, the duo decided that a food truck was the way to go. They were excited about the freedom a food truck would afford them that a conventional restaurant simply couldn’t.
In April 2010, El Gastronomo Vagabundo started its journey, and became the first gourmet food truck in Ontario. Since then they’ve been serving the Niagara Region an eclectic mix of food from all over the world, inspired by the couple’s travels.
They chose to leave their home and Ottawa and move to Niagara after a vacation in the area. Adam and Tamara loved the area, and thought their business could really thrive in Niagara. Their business continued to grow through hard work, great food, and continued support from locals.
Adam and Tamara wanted to support the locals as well. The pair have always been very environmentally and sustainability-minded. The ingredients they use are locally-sourced from Niagara farmers, purchased at local, independent businesses, or grown themselves in their vegetable and herb garden. El Gastronomo makes a huge effort to be environmentally sustainable as well. On the truck, they use only biodegradable service items and eco-friendly cleaning supplies. All organic waste from the truck, is composted and used in their vegetable and herb garden, while all vegetable oil is turned into biofuel which is distributed to local farms to use in their machinery that runs on biofuel.
The people behind El Gastronomo truly believe in working in and with people of Niagara, in order to foster a sense of community. ‘It’s vital to work with and support other businesses in the community,’ said Jensen, ‘the more you do that, the better off everyone will be.’ Besides teaming up with local farmers and independent grocers, they also have formed partnerships with wineries and breweries in the area. El Gastronomo was a frequent sight at Pillitteri Estates‘ Pop-Up Patio Series this past summer, and the truck can be found every weekend during the summer at Oast Brewery during the winter. They have developed a solid partnership with Oast, and are the in the midst of creating a catering menu for them.
Without the community, the truck would not thrive as it has. They have been supported by Niagara, and they in turn, will continue to support the area. The next step for El Gastronomo Vagabundo is a stand-alone restaurant. Adam and Tamara are currently scouting locations in the St. Catharines area. Either way, El Gastronomo will continue to pump out excellent, inventive food, and they will certainly keep on truckin’.
Follow @ElGastronomo on Twitter to see where they`ll be next.