To borrow from an upcoming post that will round up the food and drink options at this year’s Westfest, including a peek into the VIP area…
…when people describe their experiences at street festivals, they usually mention what is being celebrated. In the case of the four days that comprised the tenth annual Westfest, it was Canadian artistic expression, so performance art from music to dance and spoken word.
Westfest was founded in 2004 by producer and artistic director Elaina Martin. The inaugural festival was a one day event, drawing 5,000 people. Thereafter, it grew. A partnership with the Westboro Village BIA paired main and community stage programming with a street party, closing off a long stretch of Richmond Road from McRae to Golden Avenues.
Still, just as media events and product launch parties are underpinned by the catered nibbles served, concessions at festivals are important.
“The medium becomes the mmmmmmmmessage,” says branding expert Dennis Van Staalduinen of Brandvelope Consulting.
Martin has a very long waiting list of concessionaires that want to participate in and sponsor the Westfest, keeping it free and inclusive. This year, one on-street food vendor that stood out was Ulises Ortega’s Mr. Churritos.
Honestly, churros sell themselves. Think extruded sweet dough that can be filled with caramel like dulce de leche or chocolate. They are deep fried until golden, drained, and coated in cinnamon and powdered or granulated sugar.
Every culture has a fried-dough pastry that loosely fits into the “not quite a doughnut” category, Ottawa’s iconic Beavertails being another example.
[Incidentally, Beavertails can be found south of the border at carnivals, sold as elephant ears.]
The thing is, when the weather gets warmer, as it has this month, I find a Beavertail an unwieldy portion. The churro is much more appealing.
“Churros are very popular back home, but I couldn’t find them here, so decided to bring them to [Ottawa],” said Ortega between rushes at his stand on Richmond Road.
Hailing from Tepic Nayarit, Mexico, he studied Business Management and Entrepreneurship at Algonquin College. There, Ortega found himself working with small to medium-sized enterprise business models, so adapted one for churros. Three years later, his venture, Mr. Churritos, still takes orders for pick up and delivery. But, Ortega now has the equipment to outfit a stall at outdoor festivals. And, he has purchased a street-side cart. It is being inspected by the TSSA for use this summer and fall.
Ortega is one of the 18 newly licensed on-street vendors. Once he gets through all the inspections, expect to find him on O’Connor, just south of Sparks Street.
A family affair, his sister and fiancé will operate the stand at events while Ortega works the street.
When everything is up and running, he hopes to top his best day’s sales of 2000 churros.
At Westfest, on a rainy and miserable Saturday, Ortega had shifted approximately 400 by mid-afternoon ($5/3), just 100 churros shy of his daily average.
My thoughts, these bloody things are addictive!
Tags: churros, featured, food cart, Food Truck Friday, Mr. Churritos, Westfest