This is part of a series profiling the businesses involved in the Sexy Men of YEG Food calendars, which feature photos of local coffee roasters, and food truck and restaurant owners. The proceeds from the calendar, now in its second year, benefit the Edmonton Food Bank.
It’s a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Churchill Square, and the food trucks are lined up on 99 Street. I’m here to profile another of the businesses featured in the Sexy Men of YEG Calendar — this time it’s Drift Food Truck, featured in the 2015 calendar. Even though it’s past the lunchtime rush, there’s still a brisk business happening at the truck, and it will be a few minutes before I can speak to Kara Fenske, who, along with Nevin Fenske (a.k.a. Mr. June) owns and operates Drift. While I’m waiting, it’s time to eat!
My trusty photographer-slash-husband and I decide to share the first item on the menu: the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich and, of course, a side of fries. The sandwich, topped with coleslaw and house pickles, looks good and tastes even better. The seasoning of the chicken is reminiscent of a pakora, and the flavour is balanced but not overwhelmed by the slaw and pickles. In my opinion, a food truck is defined by its fries, and Drift’s do not disappoint. They’re hand cut, nice and crispy, and disappear way too fast. And of course we have to try Drift’s own homemade ketchup, seasoned with ginger and cardamom.
After we eat, I am able to catch a few minutes with Kara. She and Nevin are starting to wind down from the lunch rush, but are still cheerful, friendly and energetic. With over 30 years of experience in the food industry between them, Kara and Nevin (both graduates of NAIT) have been operating Drift since they were inspired by the Portland, Ore., food truck industry back in 2011. They shop local whenever possible, and use environmentally friendly packaging. While Nevin got to represent Drift in the Sexy Men of YEG Calendar, both proprietors agree it was a good experience. Not only is the calendar supporting a worthwhile cause (the Edmonton Food Bank), “it’s great cross promotion,” says Nevin, as it brings attention to both the food bank and unique local businesses.
Drift offers a streamlined menu of gourmet sandwiches with flavours influenced by foods and cultures from around the world. To keep things interesting, the menu is reinvented every season. This year, Kara says, the Buttermilk Fried Chicken is edging out the Pork Belly Sandwich as the customer favorite. Customers can even take a little bit of Drift home with them — both the signature Drift spice blend and the homemade ketchup are for sale at the truck.
I tracked Drift down using the schedule posted on their website, and by following them on Facebook. In addition to the downtown lunch scene, Drift can also be found at events and
festivals around Edmonton. When pressed to pick a favorite event to work at, Kara says she enjoys the Interstellar Rodeo, because she can take some time while working the three-day festival to enjoy the music. Drift promotes upcoming events on their website, and both Kara and Nevin enjoy all the sights they see as a part of the Edmonton street food culture.
That culture has grown considerably since they started their food truck. These days Drift is one of more than 70 food trucks in the Edmonton area. But with their creative menu and delightful personalities, Kara and Nevin’s little green truck has a loyal following. I know I’ll be back (I really need to buy some of that ketchup). The business continues to evolve and, as Kara says, “the sky’s the limit.”