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Introducing: Fidel Gastro’s new food truck, the roving home base of the rebel without a kitchen

Introducing: Fidel Gastro’s

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Matt Basile launched his Fidel Gastro’s business last year as a roving pop-up operation. Yesterday, for a crowd of 300 or so, he graduated to a food truck at the RBC Food Truck Plaza on Front Street. Basile first dreamed up Fidel Gastro’s after quitting his copywriting job. Surrounded by food his entire life (he worked in butcher shops as a kid), he knew that he wanted to engage with the food industry, but was reticent to open a restaurant because of the huge potential losses. With a little support from Toronto Underground Market founder Hassel Aviles, Basile decided to spin himself as a “rebel without a kitchen” rather than as a cook in need of one.

Basile first exchanged labour for kitchen access at the Butcher’s Son, but now rents space at a commercial kitchen shared by a handful of Toronto cooks. He uses that space to braise all the meat for his new food truck, christened Priscilla. (The truck is named after Elvis Presley’s wife, Elvis being a mascot of sorts for Fidel Gastro’s—they’ve had his golden bust at every pop-up thus far.) Basile hadn’t planned on opening a food truck (it didn’t seem financially viable), but he ran into some luck when he was serving at the Toronto’s Next Food Truck event and a stranger offered to sell him his used truck. At the inaugural street food service, Fidel Gastro’s was dishing up three different sandwiches (served alone for $7, or with fries or slaw for $8.50), as well as a play on Pad Thai ($6) made with fries rather than noodles. The first sandwich to sell out was a beef short rib and kimchi version called the King Zilla. The two other sandwiches were the Diablo’s Right Wing (butter chicken, carrot slaw and blue cheese) and the Sergeant Slather (barbecued pulled pork, crushed tortilla chips and guacamole).

Yesterday’s financial district siege was made all the more hectic by the buzzing of a film crew. The expansion of Basile’s Cuban fare-inspired empire is being documented for a 13-episode series entitled, fittingly enough, Rebel Without a Kitchen, which will air next April on Travel and Escape. When we asked Basile what his next step would be, he was firm that there would never be a bricks-and-mortar Fidel Gastro’s restaurant, but that the empire was going to expand—how, exactly, he refused to let on. “I’ve got a million ideas, but I’m lacking the cash to fund them,” he said. ”Investors are welcome!”

Fidel Gastro’s,, @fidelgastros

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  • HUM

    Mediocre at best. Waited an hour in the heat to try these sandwiched out. The meat was cocked nicely but the sandwiches overall lacked flavor and had very little toppings on it … not worth it.

  • Fidel

    Hum, that’s the first bad review I’ve ever received. Email me at food(at)fidelgastro(dot)ca and I’ll see how I can fix this for you. Cheers

  • Sam

    I still don’t understand why one of those trucks can’t hit the Trinity Bellwoods Park area some time?

  • RS0

    I’m hard as a rock!

  • quasimime

    i’ve got ideas but would love to mash them with others. i’d be happy to invest in FG.

  • David K

    Had the King Zilla today at Yonge/Gould with a side of Pad Thai fries. Awesome! I’ll definitely be back. Giving Black Camel a run for its money as Toronto’s best sandwich.

  • Hogtown smoke

    Reson we can’t go to trinity park is city of toronto will not let use park on public property.

    Complain to council. All us food trucks want to bring our food to the people!!!

  • Rylan

    Had some of this goodness during beerfest, dying to make it to a pop up soon!

  • Griffin

    Why would anybody name their business after the ruthless dictator Fidel Castro? Do the owners realize how offensive this is to Cubans who suffer under the Castro regime, struggling to survive on the meagre food rations they get?

    What’s next, Hitler’s Hotdogs?

  • james fortner

    Hi there Fidel I’ve never mist one of your shows. And I truly believe you ve got a great thing going there congradulstions on you indevers and your journeys ahead I’m just an okd man but did a lot of cooking in my time Ive cooked for thr Royal youk and had ny own joint I live in tgr scarborough area I’m poor speller I suffer with cancer but I believe I have something you might be able to use plesse text me if interestted I really look forword from hearing from u and I’m a mnight hock so feel free to text any time your a stair my friend abd ill fok low u as long as your on the air abd don’t mind ne sending you some feed back every now and then your new friend and admierr


    James Fortner