Along with her partner Cameron Pounder (BSc ’09, Science & Business), Ada Mok (BA ’08, Psychology) competed on the closely watched season finale of last year’s Food Network reality show, Food Truck Face Off.
By Dana Ciak
Spoiler alert: they won a food truck.
For the eight years prior, Mok and Pounder had both been enjoying their office jobs, making good money and working reasonable hours.
Three years ago, they went on a date to the Toronto Underground Market, and all that changed.
“We decided on a whim that starting our own pop-up food business and leaving our jobs would be a completely viable and easy way to do what we like to do (eat and hang out) while making some money,” Mok says. “We quickly found out that there was nothing viable or easy about running a food business, with no experience or prior knowledge of the industry.”
With a steep learning curve ahead of them, the couple started FeasTO, a pop-up food station serving dumplings and other Asian street food at events and markets around the city.
“As self-proclaimed home cooks, we loved having the chance to serve our creations to people and the gratification of their appreciation was enough to keep us going," Mok says.
In early 2014, the pair applied for a casting call to win a food truck on Food Truck Face Off, which aired on the Food Network in both Canada and the U.S. After several rounds of interviews, they landed a spot — and once they were able to prove their culinary concept would cut it on the street, they walked away the winner.
Waterloo taught us to think practically, to always analyze life as a problem and to be critical,” Mok explains. “We learned to plan, to keep a level head, and to be innovative and creative in our solutions. All these have been key factors that set us apart from the many other businesses in the food industry.
Now in their first year of working on their food truck, Mok and Pounder continue serving their dumplings throughout the GTA.
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of University of Waterloo Magazine.