Eats, Chews and Leaves: The birth of Dead Beetz

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The streets of Victoria will be much tastier (and zombie friendly) come May, when the Dead Beetz food truck opens for business.

Chef and owner Karrie Hill, 37, has spent over 20 years in the restaurant industry, but wanted a change. “I’ve been talking about this for years and finally decided to go for it,” says Hill.

Her biggest challenge? Raising the funds.

“For me, I have the drive, ambition and the set of skills, but I never had the money,” says Hill. She heard of other food truck owners raising money through crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter and followed suit. Her campaign, hosted through Indiegogo, helped her reach her fundraising goal. “Without social media, I wouldn’t be doing this. I would not have raised $7 000.”

With the funds, Hill can complete renovations on a 1980 Grumman truck that was once a Canada Post truck, including the installation of a grill and deep fryer.

One of her first priorities was naming and painting the truck. “I wanted the truck to be unique,” says Hill, who combined her love of zombies with food, deciding on the name Dead Beetz.

The truck features graffiti-style zombie beets in vibrant purples and pinks, courtesy of the artist solely known as Soak, who is now based in Vancouver.

The interior space is small, ideal for two or three staff members at most. “The logistics is something you have to think about. You are totally bound by space,” says Hill in regards to menu planning. “I’m building a totally self-contained kitchen on wheels.”

Her menu will be tiny, but not without flavour or originality. Still in the concept phase, Hill plans to offer eclectic and healthy items, with a focus on gluten-free and vegetarian choices.

“I want to have stuff that people can come to the truck for a couple times a week and not feel guilty about what they’re eating. A lot of street food can be heavy.”

Devoted to local and seasonal ingredients, Dead Beetz will have West Coast offerings. A seafood roll (cousin to the classic East Coast lobster roll) with scallops, spot prawns and a preserved lemon tarragon aioli served with a side of beet and yam chips will be on the menu.

Hill gave Eats, Chews and Leaves a sneak preview of future menu items, and I had to stop myself from asking for seconds. The butter paneer masala over basmati rice, gluten free and vegetarian, stood out. Hill swaps chicken for paneer (a cheese common in India), while keeping the masala rich and creamy.

I was also smitten with a grilled steak sandwich with chimichurri sauce. The chimichurri, an Argentinian sauce made with parsley, cilantro and garlic, lent the perfect amount of acidity to the meat, provolone cheese and crispy onions.

Hill is also working on a Moroccan chicken curry and a vegetarian burger. For those craving sweets, she hopes to serve donuts and Frannie’s fudge, a secret recipe from her cousin. (I tried the fudge; it’s phenomenal.)

Hill plans to offer most items around the $10 range, aiming to appeal to the downtown lunchtime crowd. Presently, she’s working on obtaining a permanent parking spot through the City of Victoria.

Victoria city counsellor Lisa Helps has spoken out in favour of a pilot food truck program like the one in Vancouver, where businesses apply with the city to receive official permits, but no city policy has been made. “It creates such vibrancy on the streets,” says Hill, who hopes Victoria will one day have the same food truck culture as Seattle or Portland. In the meantime, food trucks can make arrangements with private property owners to set up shop.

I’ll be on the lookout for Hill and the Dead Beetz truck this spring, for the food of course, but also to ask her one last question: how does one kill a zombie beet? My guess? Eating it.

 

To follow Hill’s progress, find Dead Beetz on Twitter: @deadbeetztruck

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