Article by Rosana Zeng
Photos courtesy of Tacocat
Night It Up! 2012 is fast approaching and what better way to get pumped up than to get a little sneak peek of some of our new vendors? This year we have a group of university students and post-secondary graduates, whom are aspiring entrepreneurs taking the plunge at Night It Up! for the first time. There are nineteen members in this venture and they call themselves the Tacocats.
For a group named the Tacocats, as you could’ve have guessed they serve tacos. More specifically, tacos with Asian inspired flavours that they grew up eating. This group of young vendors may be big in numbers, but each of them has their own individual reasons why they want to serve up some delicious tacos.
Among the Tacocats, one of them is an aspiring chef Mandy Sou who hopes Night It Up! can help launch her culinary career. Ms. Sou is a culinary graduate from George Brown College, and also works at a well known restaurant in downtown Toronto.
When asked how she got started with the idea of running a food vendor booth at Night It Up!, Ms. Sou replied, “I wanted to do this years ago when I first went to Night It Up! but back in high school. At that time we didn’t have the resources to make it happen. Now that we’re older and because it’s just a three day event, we can try it out without a lot of pressure.”
For some of the other eighteen members, they had a different reason in joining their aspiring chef in this venture. Ken Tang, a graduate from Seneca College says, “for me, it’s an extracurricular activity and it’s one way to get together with friends and work towards something together. Now that we’re older and we have new-found skills and abilities from university, we can showcase that.”
According to Mr.Tang, “what’s so special and distinctive about the tacos (they’re serving) is that they’re open-faced tacos. They aren’t hiding anything and patrons can wrap it themselves.”
Their calamari taco, featured above, can easily be a popular summer dish. With salt and peppered calamari, grilled pineapple salsa and romaine chiffonade, you get a zesty and tangy flavour that’s hard to resist in those hot summer days.
“As entrepreneurs, we’ve applied the skills we’ve learned in school and utilized it for this hands on experience,” says Katie Fung, a recent graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Jeet Ghoshal, also a graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University adds, “In school, it’s sometimes hard to see the practical applications of what you learn, but it turns out in a small group project like this, I end up using what I learned and am actually interested in it.”
As for aspiring chef Mandy Sou, she explains the delight of having creative control. “I work in a kitchen and I’m at the bottom of the hierarchy, but by doing this I get to be in charge of the food so it’s fun for me. I hope to be an executive chef one day in my career so this is a great stepping stone.”
Being in a big group, it was hard for the Tacocats to synchronize their schedules and agree on all suggestions. However, they learned how to make democratic decisions to ensure that the venture will be successful. On the other hand, one of the perks they got to enjoy was taste testing all of their taco creations and experiments.
Night It Up! doesn’t have to be just a night market for patrons to enjoy, it can be a learning experience for young entrepreneurs who want to launch their careers, just like the Tacocats. Don’t forget to check out the Tacocat booth booth number I2, at Night It Up! on July 13-15th! Want to learn more about them? Follow them @thetacocat and Like them here! On Facebook.