Sure, the musical acts are fantastic, but have you heard about the food? Arboretum Festival has just announced a stellar addition to its eating lineup — a pop-up kitchen featuring top chefs Marc Doiron (Town), Mike Frank (Bar Robo), and Simon Bell (formerly of Oz Kafe). The three plan to take over a food truck for the weekend and collaborate on a fun menu of festival eats.
City Bites caught up with Chef Mike Frank to get the inside scoop on what he’s cooking up. The food truck will be operating at the main festival site at City Hall on Friday, August 19, and Saturday, August 20.
How did this collaboration happen?
Rolf (Klausener, Arboretum Festival organizer) comes into Bar Robo quite a bit — it’s the new kid in the Ottawa Music scene — so we got to talking about it. He wanted to get a few chefs together to do some kind of pop-up food thing at the festival.
And then you just gathered a couple of buddies?
Pretty much! Simon Bell [formerly of Oz Kafe] and Marc Doiron [Town] and I were available. We thought it would be great to get together and do something really different.
And your kitchen is…?
We’ve borrowed a food truck for the weekend so we’ve got a mobile kitchen. We’ll have a tent. We’re going to create a quirky space with knickknacks and posters. We’re making it up as we go along — it’s creative, which is what Arboretum Fest is all about.
What’s your food concept?
People are there for a concert, so we’re keeping that in mind. We want people to grab some easy-to-eat-while-walking–around food from us, enjoy a show, maybe get a kombucha from Buchipop or a Beau’s. Our truck is located right between the two festival areas [Festival Village and Concert Village] so everyone can find us.
When will you be open?
Friday night, from opening to close [5pm to 11pm] and Saturday from noon to close.
Cut to the chase. What are you making?
Everyone knows Town’s meatballs, so Marc is doing a meatball sandwich.
I’m in charge of the vegetarian. I’m planning food with a fun, concert vibe to it. I want to do zucchini pogos with sweet mustard and spicy ketchup. Maybe some coconut bacon. I’m working on a mushroom patty melt.
And of course we’re doing a fry station because I just found out that no one’s doing French fries. What sort of festival has no fries?! When people smell the fries, they’ll start zombie walking over to my food truck. There’ll be regular fries with garlic salt, and Simon wants to do red curry fries with basil leaves and maybe a lemongrass vinegar. I’m going to do a Nordic fries with sweet mustard and onions.
Oh, and cold soba noodles. It’s a summer Korean dish. You marinate the noodles in garlic, ginger, sambal, soy, and sugar then you put them in a cup. I’ll cold-brew some dashi with mushrooms. So people will get the noodles and dashi, which I’ll top with cucumber, pickled daikon, cilantro, green onions, sesame oil. You can walk around and eat the noodles and drink the cold broth.
What’s your pricing?
We’ll keep it affordable. Most things will be $5. And maybe combos with fries for $10. We’re still working that out.
And we hear you’re doing a Saturday brunch?
It’ll be breakfast sandwiches, fruit, homefries. Something a bit greasy, but easy and fresh. It will hopefully help with some of the hangovers that will be there after Friday night.