Sew Hungry – Hamilton’s Restaurant Food Truck Rally

Attention Ontario Foodies: one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year is only one week away!

Sew Hungry Restaurant and Food Truck Rally will shut down Ottawa Street in Hamilton on Friday May 2, 2014. With over 55 food vendors, the award-winning event brings a large foodie crowd to the Garment District of the city for its 4th year running. This event garners more attention and interest each year, cultivating and preserving the culinary community within Hamilton. Alongside the many vendors that will surely satisfy even the ravenous appetites, chefs will be doing cooking demonstrations throughout the day!

I had the chance to talk with event organizer, Elisha Proietti, who graciously spoke to me about the ways in which Sew Hungry has grown.

FGFS: How did Sew Hungry come about? What drew you to Ottawa Street?

Elisha Proietti: I was hired by the BIA about 4 years ago as the Manager for the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market as well as the Events Coordinator for the Ottawa Street BIA.  Ottawa Street has been booming for awhile now and the BIA wanted to add more events to the street to bring more attention to its growth.  4 years ago when Sew Hungry started, the food truck scene was just starting to rear its head.  Gorilla Cheese had just hit the streets and El Gastro had really just paved the way for this movement to begin.  We wanted to remind people that Ottawa Street, although famous for it’s textiles, had a lot more to offer!  Including some great restaurants!  Bringing in food trucks was a perfect way to expose foodies to the great eats we have to offer on the street.  Typically people will go out for lunch on a Friday and we wanted to get them thinking about Ottawa Street when they do that!  So, I called in Graeme from Gorilla Cheese and proposed the idea of a Food Truck Rally along Ottawa St to him and he loved it!  We rallied together about 9 trucks (we were begging trucks to come at the first Sew Hungry) and here we are today!

FGFS: Congrats on having such a successful event last year! What makes this year even better?

EP: Thank you! We were blown away by how well received the event was last year!  As an event planner, you are always looking at the event from a different angle than the attendees.  I think sometimes we are our own worst critic, which can be a good thing!  This year there are a lot of new additions to the event that we are excited about.  We have firstly added more trucks to the roster so that we can accommodate the crazy numbers we saw from last year!  We will have 35 trucks this year serving curbside, which is pretty awesome.  We also have Roux Commercial Kitchen and Commissary who is sponsoring and providing what they are calling the Sew Hungry Kitchen Stadium!  The stadium will feature Local Guest Chefs which are being sponsored and provided by Go Cooking of the Hamilton Spectator, who will be doing cooking demonstrations throughout the day!  We will also be shutting down 5 side streets this year to provide additional tables and seating for people.  It is shaping itself up to be the best Sew Hungry yet, and we are constantly making sure that each year outdoes the last.

FGFS: You have so many amazing vendors, how do you pick the participants?

EP: The growth of this event has been pretty surreal to watch.  In the first year we had 9 trucks and it was difficult to get those 9.  This year we have 35 trucks participating and we had 53 trucks apply.  This was just by the deadline, I still have trucks calling me on a daily basis asking if they can be a part of the event.  It is a great thing but it is also makes it that much harder.  The Events Committee agreed one of the best ways to decide, was to taste test all of the new trucks that applied to the event.  OnFebruary 26th, we had 6 judges come in to the BIA office.  They got to meet the new trucks and try all of their food first hand.  It was a really incredible day.  The trucks all brought their A game and it was inspiring to see how passionate they are about food.  They have really taken street food to a whole new level and you could see it in the way they presented the food and in how simply delicious the dishes tasted.  Needless to say, we were all absolutely stuffed at the end of the day.  Maybe next year we will be sure to spread it out over a week.  26 taste tests in 4 hours proved to be very difficult!  I think some of us didn’t eat for days after that!  As the event grows, this aspect is going to get harder and harder, but at 35 trucks we are already maxed out on space and we also want to ensure that our own restaurants have a great business day as well!  We have an incredible lineup of trucks this year and we are so excited for Hamilton to have the chance to try them!

FGFS: Organizing a Food Truck Rally isn’t a small feat! How do you it all?

EP: There is a lot more work that goes into it than what people realize!  We take that as a compliment though.  I have had people in the past ask me if we could do it once a month, or every weekend, which would be impossible!  Part of the fun of the event is that it’s something to look forward to every year.  Planning for Sew Hungry starts in the fall, and each year I seem to try and get things started earlier and earlier.  The BIA has an amazing Executive board and Events committee that always step up and help wherever they can.  Other than that it takes a lot of organization and planning to make sure that every detail is looked after!  Event planning always comes off to people as this whimsical, fun, party job but thats not the case.  It’s a lot of hard work and you have to really love and care about what you are doing in order to do it well.  Just like any other job!

FGFS: Any advice for a Sew Hungry first timer, like myself?

EP: I think my best Sew Hungry advice is to come in a group and divide and conquer.  We have an amazing website that was done by Orbital Studios and there is a great interactive map on the homepage that can help you plan ahead! I also recommend a pair of stretchy pants (jogging pants, Lululemons, Modrobes for the old schoolers). The least busy times are usually 11am – noon and 4pm – 5pm so if you can get here then that will help too!

FGFS: Lastly, favourite place to eat in Hamilton?

EP: Hamilton has become such an incredible place for food so it’s really hard to pick just one. I think my Italian roots always draw me to Café Limoncello. Those pizzas are just so good. Bruno is a fantastic chef and Nancy Leo, who owns the restaurant, is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met and it shows!

Come out and enjoy this delicious community on Friday May 2, 2014 from
11am – 3pm and 4pm – 8pm. We’ll see you there!

Sew Hungry on the Web:
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