If you have caught an episode of Eat St. on the Food Network it is easy to see the popularity of food trucks continues to grow.
The show is a lip-smacking celebration of North America’s tastiest, messiest and most irresistible street food and while the reality show hasn’t featured any of Parksville’s mobile food vendors, that doesn’t indicate they don’t measure up.
In fact visitors to special events in Parksville have been raving about the great eats that have been served by the vendors who have been parked throughout the city this summer.
One of those culinary wizards on wheels is Mark Chandler, who has been offering creative cuisine out of his brightly coloured Extreme-Eatz truck since June.
Chandler and his wife Karen have always had a passion for cooking and keeping hungry patrons happy.
Before satisfying the appetites of the locals the pair operated Rocky Mountain Food Group as a Western Canadian based food broker servicing restaurants, grocery and specialty food stores.
The company relocated to Oceanside in 2004 and since then the self-admitted foodies have been catering parties and events and creating quite a following of comfort food fanatics.
The Chandlers started the newest chapter of their 13 years in business when they rolled out the Extreme-Eatz food truck and life has been a series of gastronomic delights ever since.
The menu for his kitchen on wheels follows the path of the old Route 66 diners but with some different twists to some of the old classics and bacon is one of the main attractions.
Chandler said they like to try different combinations of things and customers really like their smoked meat sandwiches.
“We try to stick with a deli style concept. We serve classics like amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. Montreal smoked meat is a number one seller,” he agreed.
Chandler also admitted nothing goes better with bacon than more bacon and they always ask their customers “you are not afraid of bacon are you?”
“The only bad thing about a grill full of bacon is that the grill is not twice the size so we can have more bacon.”
Last week Chandler launched his new fish and chips menu including Halibut and Pacific cod with his soon-to -be-famous bacon tartar sauce.
All of the condiments that go into Chandler’s creations are homemade, including different combinations of mustard.
“We are working on our own ketchup,” he declared, but would not reveal any of the secret ingredients.
Even the Extreme-Eatz T-shirts that are available for purchase have the slogan, Practice Safe Eatz … Always use a Condiment.
Chandler noted that since Eat St. has been airing people are starting to realize that some of the world’s most inventive chefs serve their creations through the window of a food truck and a delicious meal tastes even better when you eat it curb-side.
“We have a lot of people who ask us if we have been on Eat St. We hope when they swing through Vancouver Island again they will feature us,” he acknowledged.
The show that highlights many heart attack snacks wouldn’t want to miss out on Chandler’s Extremewich.
The giant sandwich will be on display at Sunday’s event but those who want to chow down on one have to pre-order it at least 24 to 48 hours in advance.
“It feeds four to six people. There is no way someone can eat it themselves.”
That being said he is willing to throw out the challenge and if someone can eat the whole thing including the side dish of bacon-slaw for four, they will get the $32 king of sandwiches for free.
“It is a ridiculous amount of food. I have never seen anyone do it. We have tested it with people at the fire hall Parksville.”
“A crew of guys from an electric company has been threatening to do it … but the other day they ate four pieces between three of them and they had a tough time.”
He said the filling is made with whatever they are serving in the truck that day.
“It’s the who knew combination. Nobody knows. It could have smoked turkey, ham, or Montreal smoked meat.”
Of course it has bacon and lots of melted cheese along with sautéed onions and peppers and lots of savoury condiments.
So what are some of the more easy to finish creations being served from the truck? The menu is always changing but past pork inspired dishes have included smoked turkey and chorizo poutine and tequila habanero cheesy meatloaf poutine.
Chandler stated that besides bacon what makes his poutine stand out is the combination of real cheese curds and asiago cheese as well has his home-made gravy and other condiments.
For those who have more a sweet tooth an order of deep fried cheesecake should hit the spot.
Another popular dessert is the Smo Balls … ice cream encrusted with chopped up smore dessert bars from Mo’s Minis bakery in Qualicum Beach.
Aside from providing home cooked comfort food in the area the Chandlers also like to give back to the community.
Throughout the month of September, partial proceeds from their food sales will be donated to Cops for Cancer.
Chandler who is also a volunteer for the Parksville Fire Department said they have been supporting Tour de Rock for many years and this will be the fourth year that they provide the team with a full blown Texas BBQ during their rest stop and change over in Ucluelet.
Look for them at the Lady’s Mantle parking lot 716 East Island Highway in Parksville most Thursday and Friday afternoons and at the Saturday Orange Bridge Market.
For more information on what the Chandler’s are cooking visit www.extrem-eatz.ca or check them out on facebook.