Laid-off chef that worked in top Toronto restaurants now serving up street food
A chef who was laid off from a Toronto restaurant job ended up following her dream of cooking up street food, and has been doing just that ever since.
Aiko Rudder-Jones has worked in restaurants all over Toronto since she was 16, including high-end spots like Cluny and El Catrin, even helping cater private events for celebrites like Michelle Obama and Drake. She lost a job at Barrio Coreano before starting up Bim Street Eats.
"I remember it like yesterday: March 15, 2020 was the last day I worked at Barrio Coreano," Rudder-Jones tells blogTO. "It was the catalyst that propelled me to excute on my idea of Bim Street Eats."
She started up the project officially in summer 2020, and does a weekend menu with options for Friday and Saturday almost every week, typically highlighting her Bajan heritage. Originally from Barbados, she moved to Canada in 2013.
"The idea of bringing Barbadian food and culture to Toronto was an idea that permeated my mind for a while," says Rudder-Jones. "I was in culinary school when I came up with the businesses plan for a project. The idea stuck with me."
Items on her menus typically top out at $20 and include options like grilled or fried fish, grilled or fried wings, BBQ chicken and saltfish. There are also options like "pudding and souse," pickled pork served with steamed pudding and pickled breadfruit, as well as smaller items like fishcakes.
Though Rudder-Jones' experience working in Toronto's high-end restaurants has given her an impressive resume, her true love of food is derived from her family and culture.
"I really found my passion and love for cooking through my family.
Both my mother and my grandmother love to cook. I believe my mother and grandmother have truly been the influencers behind my unique palate," says Rudder-Jones.
"I love Bajan food. I want others to experience the flavours of the many dishes from my culture."
The weekend menu changes up every couple of weeks and can be ordered for pickup online, but Bim Street Eats can also do menus for events with pricing based on requirements. Bim Street Eats is based near Pape and Cosburn in East York.
"I love receiving peoples' reviews. The joy on their faces as they experience the Bajan palate makes my day," says Rudder-Jones.
"I try to connect with my customers. I always try to meet with my customers and build relationships with them. Many of my customer are regulars. My business reminds me of Barbados, you come for more than food, it's a whole experience. I couldn't have asked for a better response at this time, truthfully."
She doesn't operate the concept without support: her partner Bethany Drakes helps out with aspects of the project like social media and taking orders. That should be helpful as Bim Street Eats hopefully continues to grow.
"I'm a very ambitious person so I definitely have big plans for the future," says Rudder-Jones. "I am appreciating my journey and continuing to hone my craft. Look out for Bim Street Eats in 2023 coming to the streets near you."
Bim Street Eats
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