Shea Hierlihy is serving up something Whitehorse residents have been crying out for for years: Thai food.
Hierlihy, fresh from achieving her certification as a Red Seal cook, launched her new food truck, The Thai Box, with her partner Chris last week.
Her timing is good. Whitehorse residents tend to get a little excited this time of year, when the days are long and the weather is fine. Like bears emerging from a long slumber, we’re hungry for sun and on the hunt for tasty morsels to eat.
With the trend of warm, sunny weather forecasted to continue for the foreseeable future, enterprising Yukoners like Hierlihy are well positioned to make a buck.
On opening day they had planned to be open from noon till six, but sold out of food before 3 p.m.
“So far, I think the biggest surprise for me is how popular it is, right off the bat,” said Hierlihy this week.
“I guess I was kind of expecting a slow start, and word of mouth spreading around. But our very first day, we had lineups 20 people long at lunch, and we sold out before we could even do dinner.”
Perhaps she shouldn’t have been so surprised. It’s no secret that Whitehorse residents are known to make pilgrimages all the way to Skagway for a coconut curry and a plate of Pad Thai.
Everyone, including Hierlihy, had been waiting to see which genius would step up and start serving up the favourites closer to home.
“It’s something that we’ve discussed with our friends, like, so many times,” she said.
“For years we’ve said to each other, ‘Oh man, somebody should. Somebody should.’”
She had started making Thai food at home with her partner, a tradition that came to be known as Pad Thai Tuesdays.
It was Chris’s idea first that they should take their show on the road.
“We both laughed about it, and then kind of slowly it became more of a real idea,” said Hierlihy.
They had casually been looking at cooking trailers, and one day the perfect one came up in Lloydminster, Alta. She picked it up and towed it home on her way back from completing her Red Seal apprenticeship.
That’s when it became “a very, very real idea,” she said.
The trailer has a bit of retro feel, a bit rough around the edges but proud in its fresh coat of fire-engine-red paint.
“I don’t think it’s typical food truck food,” said Hierlihy. “I call it a mobile kitchen because it’s not really money and food, handing through the window. Some of the stuff takes a bit of time to cook, because we cook it all to order. It’s fresh, and I’m creating relationships with local suppliers and stuff as much as possible.”
They somehow managed to snag a key spot at Rotary Park, freed up by Compadres Burritos, which now operates solely out of Frank Slim building in Shipyards Park.
Since the opening last week, the food truck has seen crazy lines all through the lunch hours, with hundreds of Yukoners keen to sample the wares.
“Pad Thai – we can barely keep up with it. We can barely keep up with prepping and stuff because it’s just flying off. We’ve gotten a lot of return customers and a lot of people who were told by their friends to come check it out, which is really cool. It’s a crazy, crazy feeling.”
According to the food truck’s latest Facebook post, they’ve cleaned Whitehorse out of rice stick noodles completely, forcing experimentation with other sorts of Thai noodle dishes.
The handmade spring rolls, too, are selling faster than prep cooks can roll them.
The Thai Box is typically open 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Rotary Park, except on Thursdays, when you’re likely to find it from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fireweed Community Market in Shipyards Park.
Hours are subject to change. Visit “The Thai Box” on Facebook for updates.
Contact Jacqueline Ronso at