Back for their second year running at this year's Kultura Festival, Tocino Boys has seen a lot of changes from their last year to this one. Their scope has expanded from their pop-up cart to catering at different events, including weddings and convention meetings, and their clientele, contrary to their expectations, is composed of an estimated 65% of other ethnicities other than Filipino. Seeing "Sweet Bacon" on the menu has done more than pique interests, it has also brought in repeat customers.
Watch out for their longganisa skewers and tocino steamed bun at this year's Kultura Filipino Arts Festival, on August 10th at Artscape Wychwood Barns! Catch up with John DeBlois of Tocino Boys after the cut.
(Q1) Looking at Tocino Boys from the last Kultura festival to now, what do you think has changed and what has stayed the same? Has the public perception of Filipino street food, particularly your brand of street food, changed at all?
John Deblois: From our first day we started Tocino Boys until now, we have grown in so many ways. From the start we did not expect that it would be accepted by the people of Toronto to this extent. About 65% of people who visit Tocino Boys are from another ethnicity other than Filipino and all along we thought that our guests would mainly be Filipinos. We had to adapt to this change and had to constantly come up with new things on the menu that would be appealing to Filipinos and non-Pinoys.
After several months of trial and error we finally found our niche and started to get calls to pop-up on weddings, birthday parties, restaurant pop-ups, convention meetings and our biggest request is the $15 in house 5 course tasting which is by far the most popular within the people who live in condos in Toronto. With all this change, one thing that remains the same is our hospitality and the way we serve our food which we always try to keep consistent.
Most non-Filipinos did not know what to expect when they read "Sweet Bacon" on the menu and most were curious, but the Filipinos were blown away when most thought that Tocino and Longanisa was only good with rice and egg. We serve our Tocino and Longanisa in forms of Tacos, Poutines and "Supreme" Sandwiches which has five types of bacon including Tocino. After a while it went from people giving it a try to people bringing other people that brought more people to give it a try. It has been a crazy few months that changed a lot of things that we do.
(Q2) Do you think that Filipino street food fits right into the street food culture that the city of Toronto has?
JD: Yes, I truly believe that Filipino street food fits right in with the rest of the street food of Toronto. I am confident that it has the potential to be a Toronto favorite. With how we keep Filipino street food simple from drinks to pastries, I am sure that it will soon be accepted in this city. Our type of street food appeals to both kids and adults and this differentiates us from the others.
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