By Lezlie Lowe | TheChronicalHerald Opinions
Sometimes Halifax is slow on the uptake. That doesn’t faze Nick Horne in the least.
The mechanic/foodie-cum-streetside restaurateur is plotting, with wicked methodical muster, the next great takeover of the Halifax food scene.
Secret weapon? His Nomad Gourmet food truck, hitting Halifax streets in August.
While other cities have embraced gourmet street eats — Hamilton’s got Gorilla Cheese; Ottawa loves Relish — Halifax has maintained its practised wait-and-see stance.
Horne says his food truck will be a solution to what he calls “the lunch conundrum,” when you want great food but don’t have time for a great restaurant.
“Nomad,” he says, “bridges the gap.”
The truck will pick up where Bud the Spud falls from gastronomic grace.
Horne is targeting Haligonians, not tourists, and he’s not hawking grease.
“I’m a foodie at heart,” he says.
The 33-year-old cures his own charcuterie, bakes bread and puts away food from his 1,000-square-foot Tantallon garden.
Not what you might expect from a Beaver Bank boy who has spent his adult life as an auto mechanic.
Nomad Gourmet isn’t what you might expect from street food, either. There isn’t even a fryer on the truck.
Ah, the truck. Horne picked up his 1977 Chevy one-ton step van (like a Purolator truck but with a four sinks, a steam table, a griddle and two fridges) in Los Angeles, the street-food mecca, back in June.
“I ate a few tacos (in L.A.),” Horne says. “I ate some great carnitas.”
Horne planned his 12,000-kilometre, round-trip, truck hunt (because “down there, the trucks have no rust on them”) around a “beautiful,” red step van.
He soon discovered the truck’s kitchen wasn’t up to code.
“I ate at Denny’s,” he laments. Nomad Gourmet won’t feature anything close.
“We’re starting with fusion tacos,” Horne says. “Southwestern-inspired, pulled pork, brisket.” Nomad will have sandwiches, eastern Canadian dishes, some seasonal dishes, Hibiscus flower sweetened tea and agua frescas.
Horne’s only promise: “If something is working, you’ll see it stay.”
If the menu seems like a moving target, that’s precisely the point. Flexibility is what differentiates food trucks from bricks-and-mortar restaurants.
Street chefs were early adopters of social media tools like Twitter, where followers can find trucks as they move around. Horne is @NomadGourmet.
So will Nomad sneak from its city-sanctioned spot on Argyle across from the World Trade and Convention Centre?
Horne likes that he’s subject to the same health inspection as regular restaurants and happy to rent his spot from the city because it offers stability.
But he wants to offer breakfast and current rules don’t allow vending before 9 a.m.
“The premise of a food truck is that it moves around,” he says. “But your vending licence with the city is tied to that spot and that spot only. So we are lobbying council to lift that so food trucks can share spots or have more than one spot.”