Whitehorse gets curried away

What started as a trip to India ended with a shiny stainless steel food truck in Whitehorse. The Silver Bindi is the latest food truck to pop up at Rotary Peace Park.

What started as a trip to India ended with a shiny stainless steel food truck in Whitehorse.

The Silver Bindi is the latest food truck to pop up at Rotary Peace Park.

Vanessa Younker and Kyle Marchuk are behind the venture, which is named after the shiny silver Indian jewelry.

“We ate so much Indian food, we talked about cooking classes, opening a restaurant,” said Marchuk, remembering his trip to India in 2012.

“I got home and never followed through,” he said.

Until now.

The food truck offers a different menu every day, with a vegetarian and a meat dish. They both come with naan bread, basmati rice and dal.

When the News recently dropped by the Silver Bindi, chickpea curry or garam masala beef were being served with sides of coconut tomato dal. The truck recently raised its price for a plate to $12 to help cover costs.

Marchuk was working on opening a local cafe in February this year, but it “fell through,” he said.

Meanwhile the plan to open up an Indian food restaurant came one step closer to reality when he and a friend, Vanessa Younker, joined forces.

Younker is a certified Red Seal chef and used to work in an Indian restaurant in Vancouver.

“It made things a bit more of a reality,” he said. Younker and Marchuk are co-owners of the food venture.

Marchuk also got some unexpected help from nobody less than the famous Vancouver-based Indian chef Vikram Vij, owner of several restaurants in B.C. and a food truck based in Vancouver.

Marchuk cold-called the chef after he got a hold of his personal cellphone number. After some initial awkwardness – Marchuk recalls Vij hanging up on him at first due to the unexpected nature of the call – the two of them started talking. Vij offered him cooking advice and even offered to help with some of the marketing once the business was established.

“He said ‘next time you’re down, come to the restaurant. Come say hi we’ll give a tour of the restaurant’,” said Marchuk.

“Next thing I know, I’m in touch with all these people down there (in Vancouver) and it all started happening,” he said.

The food truck has been operating since mid-May, and both Marchuk and Younker seem pleased with the turnout so far.

“We’re testing Whitehorse’s appetite for Indian food, so we’re starting small with 11 (a.m.) to 2 (p.m.), we might extend our hours to evenings or events,” said Marchuk.

For Younker, the food truck is a bit of a change from the usual kitchen settings she is used to working in.

A steam table, an induction oven, a stove, a griddle, a fridge and other appliances are crammed into less than 100 square feet, with Younker cooking and a staffer dealing with customers.

“It’s cozy, two of us in there – we manage to work in sync, each of us stick to our stations,” said Younker.

On top of her previous experience, she keeps learning about Indian cuisine thanks to the local community.

“I’ve had some cooking lessons with some excellent Indian cooks in Whitehorse,” she said.

As she is talking, a woman bikes by the food truck and notices Younker being interviewed.

“Best place in town, guys!” she shouts on her way to the waterfront.

That friend is Mira, from whom Younker has been receiving cooking lessons.

Marchuk met up with Mira when he was visiting India.

“That’s when I was introduced to authentic Indian food, and that’s when I fell in love with (it),” he said.

Younker deals with the food and Marchuk with the day-to-day operations, while his wife is helping them behind the scenes. Working closely with Younker hasn’t affected their friendship, he said.

“It’s week two and we’re still friends!” he said laughingly.

The Silver Bindi is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Rotary Peace Park, by the parking lot. To find out about the menu, go to facebook.com/thesilverbindi.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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