Let them eat toast: how one group of Torontonians is tackling street food by grilling bread

Winnie Yip is attempting to give street food a makeunder. Tired of forking over five (or even ten) dollars for streetside nosh, Yip banded together a group of rogue street food enthusiasts (conveniently, her friends) — and started making, and selling, toast. Yes, toast.

Calling their thick, grilled, white-bread-and-toppings concoctions “grilled specialty toasts,” Yip’s group of Hong Kong expats (four women in total, including a former Metropolitan Hotel chef) set up shop at the Taste of Asia Festival a few weeks ago. They wound up selling almost 3,000 portions of these Taiwanese-inspired, snack-sized treats.

“Street food is getting more and more expensive,” says Yip, taking a quick break from her marketing day job. “You can easily pay eight dollars or more for a sandwich or pork bun at these street festivals. So we wanted to keep the price low, but still keep the food delicious.”

Offering six flavour options (including green tea and red bean, cheese ‘n’ bacon and chocolate-Oreo), and already working on a few new sweet and savoury combinations, Yip says the most expensive specialty toast clocks in at $2. The majority of toasts, though, go for a mere $1.

“We’ve had lots of repeat customers,” she says, adding that one Taste of Asia reveler visited her street food booth a half-dozen times. “We also make it easy for people to go from booth to booth — to sample. If you think about it, you really shouldn’t need a knife and fork to eat street food, right?”

Building on their initial success, Yip and her crew enjoyed another successful run last week at Taste of Lawrence. Oh, and fear not, toast lovers: the toastmasters will also make a four-night appearance next week at the T & T Waterfront Night Market (July 21 to 24).

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO