Food truck finishes second in 'Eat Street' contest
Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012 06:00 am
A local food truck owner has placed second in the top five of fan favourites in a recent video contest that was held by the Food Network.
Jo Klitzke is the owner of Westcott Country Kitchen, a mobile food unit that specializes in home-cooked offerings that include cabbage rolls, roast beef on a bun, lasagna, sausage rolls, fudge, cinnamon buns and cookies.
Her entry got 3,305 votes, just 500 less than the winning entry, Hamilton’s Gorilla Cheese.
“I love to cook and I love to feed people,” she said. “I have a passion for gardening and cooking.”
Klitzke first heard about the Eat Street Video Contest through friends, who told her she should consider entering.
“I started to watch the show and I thought, that’s cool,” she said. “You could join as a vendor on a website and post your menu on there.”
It was an easy task for Klitzke, whose former career was in software.
“Then in late October, Eat Street sent all the vendors an invitation to join the contest,” she said. “They said there were 58 vendors in Canada and the United States who ultimately entered.”
Vendors had to submit a 90-second video for the contest, explaining why they were different and why people should vote for them.
“We had to describe what we do in the food truck industry that nobody else does,” she added.
“For me, it’s the fact that everything is homemade. We don’t use any deep fryers or grills and we don’t use frozen french fries or burgers.
“A lot of the ingredients I use in my meals come from my own garden and I use local sources as much as possible.”
She enlisted the help of her son’s best friend, Phil Harrison from Carstairs, who is a professional videographer.
“He said he would love to do the video for me, for free,” she said. “He had already done some work for the Food Network and he told me that they would want a story, a personality and good food. He said that I already had it all.”
Klitzke recruited dozens of her regular customers, inviting them to her place in Westcott for the filming of the video, offering them free food in exchange for their testimony and appearance. A technical glitch with the sound forced them to re-shoot another day.
“We used a similar theme as in the movie, Field of Dreams,” said Klitzke. “If you cook it, they will come.”
She added that her theme song in the video was Queen’s hit, Don’t Stop Me Now – I’m Having Such a Good Time.
Finally, the 90-second film was edited and submitted to Eat Street.
“Shortly afterward, we got an email from Corey Dilley, the marketing manager at Eat Street,” said Klitzke. “He said he loved the storyline and the choice of music.”
Dilley also said that it was “quite obvious that Klitzke’s food truck was the closest thing to homecooking out of all the vendors.”
“All her patrons appreciated her homecooking,” Dilley said. “Plus, there was a cool community feel to her business.”
Eat Street has been on the air for about a year. This is the first food truck contest they’ve run.
“Our goal was to get about 60 entries for the contest,” Dilley said.” “We were surprised at the number of vendors who took the time to make a video.”
The voting ran from Jan. 11 – 31. “We told people to report their votes and for every vote recorded, we would enter their name in a draw for a $50 gift certificate for our great food,” Klitzke said. “Lots of people said that if their name was drawn, to give the $50 to the food bank instead. I announced that for every vote cast for Westcott Country Kitchen, we would donate 50 cents to the food bank.”
Eat Street producers were impressed with Klitzke’s method of garnering votes. “Her back-end contest with contributing money to the food bank was very cool,” said Dilley.
In total, Klitzke ended up contributing nearly $573 to the food bank.
“The whole food channel is about food and some people can’t put Kraft Dinner on the table,” she said. “It just made sense to make the connection to the food bank.”
The top five winners receive a bio on Eat Street’s webpage. As well, Klitzke’s video will be played on the show.
“I have won new customers and I’m ecstatic by the support,” Klitzke said. “Being just 500 votes behind first place was just amazing. It was neck and neck at the end.”