For Salar Madadi, the idea of spending the rest of his life behind a computer for his career in IT simply didn’t appeal. His true passion was cooking unique meaty creations inspired by his mix of Filipino and Iranian cultures, and lots of bacon.
A few years after moving to Hamilton, he decided to chase his dream of sharing his love for cooking. Despite no restaurant culinary experience and a long and difficult journey ahead of him, Madadi was committed to bringing his Meat Wagon to life.
It’s been three years since the Meat Wagon sold its first piece of bacon. A framed five-dollar bill commemorates the beginning of the journey, while an enormous stack of order sheets from the Wagon’s last and busiest weekend ever, mark the end.
Everything in between is worth celebrating too. The Meat Wagon evolved from serving pulled duck sliders and candied bacon crème brûlée from a cart at the Village Station Bazaar, to cooking up dishes for several Pop Up Hamilton events and winning the Canadian National Bacon Championships.
“Our food has always been about taste being the most important thing. I know a lot of cooks that focus really heavily on using local ingredients and that’s awesome, but it’s not my style. So many different cultures have come to Canada and brought their flavours with them, and I feel like Canadian food is something that should bring in all of those flavours without boundaries,” explained Madadi.
The MeatVentures’ crew was always experimenting, challenging themselves and pushing the limits. A good team environment and passion for making good food led to many success and memories.
“[W]hen we’re in the middle of a busy service, we have a good crew, the music is loud, and we’re having fun and moving quick. There’s nothing like that feeling of the rush and that first breath you take after serving the last customer in line,” said Madadi.
“After four years, it’s taken a toll on both my physical and mental health… I plan on spending more time with the family and friends I’ve missed while working so much”
Madadi and his team have also had their fair share of struggles, from long and tough work hours to time consuming business tasks. A first time entrepreneur, Madadi was fortunate to have the support of the Hamilton community, including the Roux Commissary and the Dirty South, who were there to help when the team needed it.
Despite a strong presence in the Hamilton food truck scene, Madadi and his team have decided their Meat Wagon’s carnivorous treats will be going into hibernation until 2019.
“After four years, it’s taken a toll on both my physical and mental health… I plan on spending more time with the family and friends I’ve missed while working so much” explained Madadi.
“There’s always this overwhelming pressure in business to continue to grow and expand, but I’m starting to realize that approach isn’t for me. So another part of this is to step back, reevaluate, and figure out how I want to continue in the future”.
This doesn’t mean the end for MeatVentures, but rather clearing the slate for new ideas and taking the Wagon to the next level when it returns in 2019.
Since announcing the break, Madadi has been introduced to other opportunities while also been able to focus his energy on other projects he has been meaning to dedicate more time to.
“[W]e ended up not opening [the second location of Pokeh Bowl] until right in the middle of food truck season, so I just didn’t have the time to devote to it… I’m lucky to have an amazing crew there that keep it running smooth while I run the truck and I’m looking forward to spending more time working with them,” said Madadi.
Over the next few months, Madadi will be introducing new bowls, sides and even drinks to the Pokeh Bowl’s expanding menu of fresh ahi tuna, salmon and vegan bowls inspired by Hawaiian appetizers.
As for the Meat Wagon, fans should keep a look out for pop-up events throughout the year featuring some beloved menu items and new creations by the MeatVentures team.