By James Rose
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Montréal and poutine are like peas and carrots. Milk and cookies. Yan Thérien and Hubert Poirier. These two Québec-born entrepreneurs are the friends and business partners behind the food truck Street Avenue Food, and new this spring, The Snack Bar in Radium.

You may have seen Street Avenue Food. Poirier and Thérien’s truck has been around since 2018 after launching it as a side project. “We found this rundown truck after spotting it from the highway in a farmer’s field,” said Poirier. After lots of tenders, loving care to restore it, they initially had it parked up by Arrowhead. And when nightlife was a thing, in the back parking lot of Copper City Saloon. This year, the truck is located in Athalmer across from A&W.

“The new location is amazing, situated right in the middle of the action between the public boat launch and the entrance to James Chabot Provincial Park,” Thérien said. The opportunity to situate the truck on that parcel of land was a happy accident. When the two took the plunge to start their second outpost in Radium, their landlord offered them the option to park the truck on another parcel of land he owned – the lot across the street from A&W.

Street Avenue Food’s menu is centred around poutine. There’s the original Poutine with French fries, fresh cheese curds, brown chicken sauce and green onions. But then there are the more creative takes on the Québécois classic, such as the Galvaude, which is the original but with green peas and duck confit. There’s even a vegan option that features French fries, mushrooms, green peppers, sautéed onions, green peas, cashews and a marinara sauce.

At The Snack Bar, located next to Blooming World Cannabis and the soon to open Radium Brewery, the menu mirrors the food truck but with a wider selection of choices. There’s a Montréal smoked meat sandwich and the Blooming Onion – a unique take on deep-frying a whole white onion.

Thérien and Poirier take the ingredients for their menus and the processes for food prep seriously. They import never-frozen cheese curds twice weekly from an Edmonton cheese factory run by fellow Québécois. They double blanche their fries. As much as possible, they infuse locally grown produce into all of their various dishes. The potatoes are specific. They use Kennebec potatoes – a medium to late maturing white potato because these potatoes have a lower sugar content. “A lower sugar content allows for better browning,” said Thérien, who’s worked in fine dining for thirty years. “The difference between good food and great is the knowledge behind it. We’ve nailed our recipes and love sharing them with the valley.”

Montréal born and raised, Thérien, 46, went to culinary school before apprenticing at one of Montréal’s top kitchens. After moving west (for a more fleshed out backstory, see this week’s Columbia Valley Origins column), he worked for several years in Fernie, Canmore and Lake Louise. For a short spell, he was the executive chef at Panorama’s Earl Grey Lodge.

Thérien met Poirier, 26, while working in Canmore. Instantly they became friends. “Hubert reminds me of myself when I was his age,” said Thérien. So while Thérien is the master chef of the operation, look more to Poirer for the savvy hustle skills. Poirier is one of those natural born entrepreneurs. As a kid in his hometown of Champlain, for instance, he had a lawn mowing business for a while before starting a business of raising and selling chickens in a barn he rented. That’s not to say, however that he’s not as talented in the kitchen. He is. For a time, Poirier was the head chef at the upscale Heather Mountain Lodge near Golden.

To finance their growth, the pair turned to Community Futures East Kootenay. “Community Futures has been so very helpful for our growth since day one,” said Poirier of the Cranbrook based business development service. Serving the East Kootenay, Community Futures provides small-business loans for start-up, expansion or the purchase of existing businesses.

They’re already thinking of what more they can do to grow their business. Currently, they’re planning a HelloFresh style meal kit delivery service. Their five-year plan aims to have more food trucks and snack bars spread throughout the many mountain towns in B.C. and Alberta.