When the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to burn down Graham Bashford’s Castle, the Kawartha Lakes business owner decided to figuratively fan the flames instead.
“It was basically time and circumstance,” said Bashford, who is in the process of putting the finishing touches on the menu for his new venture: a mobile food service appropriately named Cooked.
“Just when you think your small biz is ‘cooked’ why not roll with it?” quipped Bashford.
Having worked in long-term care since age 14, it was logical that Bashford would move from retirement home administration to launching Castle Keep Retirement Inc. in 2012 as a way of filling a much-needed gap in home care for seniors in Kawartha Lakes. The business had been doing well when the pandemic hit. Bashford took a 40 per cent hit to business.
On April 20, Bashford made the difficult choice to cease operations.
While the business still exists — and lives on in the food truck’s off-set coloured ‘C’ and ‘K’ — Bashford decided to partner with his daughter Ella and take one of his other passions in a new direction.
“Cooking has always been my hobby, but it wasn’t until Ella got me an Instagram account to post my cooking photos that it [food truck] became a real idea,” said Bashford.
When he learned last summer that Dave and Mariska Tomlinson were selling their Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ and Beyond business near Cameron, Bashford felt it had to be a sign. He has since been working on getting the vehicle certified, inspected and wrapped. More recently he has been testing out some unique and upscale spins on food truck favourites like poutine, mac and cheese and sliders.
“It’s been a cool experience,” said Ella, who loves cooking almost as much as her dad. “And I think, when it comes to events, I can connect to people my age more when it comes to food.”
Bashford also appreciates the fact she is “much more tech savvy.” Along with being a sous chef, Ella is also in charge of Cooked’s social media presence.
Cooked will be mobile, providing food at events, special celebrations and venues only. The plan is to have the business hit the road in May.