By Marshall Jones
Part of the growth and success of the local farmers market is owed to the inventiveness of some of the vendors and few can claim they are as unique as Okanagan Street Foods.
You might expect burgers and fries off a catering truck and you’d be half right: The fries are home-cut with a homemade blackberry ketchup, so good even young kids take it instead of the tomato. The chalkboard menu describes it even better: Butter chicken, classic curried chicken with jasmine scented rice and crisp poppadoms. Or candied salmon risotto fritters with yogurt, cilantro and chili dipping sauce.
From experience: the panfried snapper with fresh tomato salsa, spicy lime and avocado mayonnaise and cilantro is like nothing you will ever find at a typical outdoor market. It’s the creation of chef Neil Schroeter. After seven years at the Sumac Ridge restaurant, he found a need to go a different way. He had a specialized truck built in California and is now on his second season doing regular duty at the market.
“The idea is just to do something different, step away from the French fries and the hamburger and do something more inventive and local and seasonal,” he says between orders from a hungry and growing crowd.
I was too late for the breakfast wrap of house-cured bacon, egg, potato, fresh salsa and aged cheddar because it’s sold out—again.
“I sell a lot of those,” he says. “I usually run out between 10 and 10:30.”
He spends most of his summers at all three local farmers markets, some special events and catering. The higher end foods—though not prohibitively expensive—are building a regular clientele. It’s vendors like Schroeter that rounds out the market and brings new clientele—and keeps them coming back. One man I spoke to said he comes every weekend and makes sure he stops by Street Food.
Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market General Manager Bob Callioux says that’s what keeps the market fresh.
“He brought in a different aspect of a little cafe on the street with a couple of tables where people meet and greet and have one of those wonderful wraps for breakfast,” he says.