Guest writer Ada Mok shares her journey from UWaterloo to the Food Network.
I’m Ada Mok and was recently on the season finale of the Food Network US and Canada show Food Truck Face Off – Match Up on Toronto Islands, along with my boyfriend Cameron Pounder (BSc ’09). Spoiler alert – we won a food truck.
For the past 8 years, Cam and I have both been working in offices in Toronto, as a senior reporting analyst, and as a research coordinator respectively. We made good money, had easy hours and everything was status quo. Three years ago, we went on a date to the Toronto Underground Market, and decided on a whim that starting our own pop-up food business would be a completely viable and easy way to do what we like to do anyway (eat and hang out) while making some money – we thought we were so clever. We quickly found out that there was nothing viable or easy about running a food business, let alone alongside a full time job, with no experience or prior knowledge of the industry.
The learning curve was steep and intense as we started feasTO, serving dumplings and other Asian street food at different events and markets around the city. As self-proclaimed home cooks, we loved having the chance to serve our creations to people and the gratification of their appreciation was enough to keep us going. I’m not going to lie and say everything was smooth sailing, it wasn’t, but we never gave up and it eventually got a little easier. In early 2014, we submitted a written application for a casting call to win a food truck on a reality TV show, and after several rounds of interviews, we were chosen. The insanity that ensues can be seen here.
As I sit in my living room writing this article, about to quit my job and embark on the craziest and undoubtedly hardest year of my life, I think back to the day I moved from Hong Kong to Waterloo, and how that has lead me to the current crossroad I’m standing in.
While it may seem like neither of our degrees directly contributed to where we are today, it is becoming clearer as we move from stability to entrepreneurship, how our education has really shaped who we are, both in life and in business. Waterloo has taught us to think practically, to always analyze life as a problem and to be critical. We learned to plan, to keep a level head, and to be innovative and creative in our solutions. All these have been key factors that set us apart from the many other businesses in the food industry. We were forced to write business plans for imaginary businesses, and 8 years later, that class has finally proven to be invaluable.
We don’t know what the next year will bring, and whether we will succeed as food truck owners. And we don’t know what the future will hold for us, but now that we’ve taken this leap of faith, there’s no turning back.
Follow us on twitter and instragram (@feasTOronto), facebook, visit our new website (www.feasTO.ca) to keep up with our adventures, or check us out at events this summer by tracking the feasTO food truck.
P.S. We are still using the giant laminated UWaterloo calendar that once hung in my dorm room in Village 1 to plan all our services.
Check Ada and Cameron out on Global News or visit the University of Waterloo’s undergraduate admissions site.