BATHURST–After travelling around Canada honing his cooking skills and even competing in season 2 of Top Chef Canada, Joel Aubie was ready to get back to the East Coast so he packed his things into a old Snap-on tool truck, drove back to Bathurst in what would become Jobie’s.
We talked with Aubie about what he brought back to the East Coast.
What’s your background?
I’ve been cooking professionally since I was … I started cooking in high school and right after high school I went to culinary school so I’ve been cooking professionally since then. It’s allowed me to do a lot of travelling, which I really appreciated in my early 20’s. I did a lot of travelling across Canada and a little bit abroad.
What made you come back to Bathurst and start up the truck there?
I was missing the East Coast when I made the decision. I did have some intentions of going to Halifax with my business idea with the food truck and I came back to Bathurst, my hometown, and I saw what was here and saw what I had left after high school, being that it’s a beautiful little town. But I also saw the opportunity and the need for something different as far as food goes and the opportunities that were there for a young entrepreneur and of course the support I had from family and friends but also my community, city officials and lots of people who had basically convinced me to stay here and give it a try.
What has the community response been like?
It’s been amazing. When we first opened, we’re in year four now, but when we first started the project we had every local newspaper, every radio station. Basically every media outlet in the Chaleur region wanted to cover it. Of course when you’re opening a new business, a small business, any publicity is an amazing thing. You could say I was welcomed with open arms.
Do you see a lot of the same people coming back again and again?
We definitely have our loyal customers and we see ebs and flows of our regular customers. They might come for the first two or three months of the season lots and lots and then we won’t see them for a little bit, whether they’re on vacation or out of their regular schedule or maybe they’ll go eat somewhere else for a little bit but then it seems like they always end up coming back. It always feels like we’re making new regular customers as well, which is great.
Why did you choose a food truck in particular?
I got the idea when I was in British Columbia and food trucks were becoming really popular out there. I got the idea and went for it. I bought an old Snap-on tool truck that I moved across the country with. So I moved all my personal belongings with it before it was ever a food truck and even camped out in it while I was driving across the country. Once I bought the truck, there was no looking back. I had to do it.
Where do you find inspiration for the food you make?
When I created a menu, and any time I’m thinking of dishes, I always want to do something different than anybody else is doing around here in Bathurst. I tend to find a lot of the restaurants have similar menus and similar ideas so with my experience from being away from Bathurst … ten years I was away from Bathurst so I was able to gain a lot of experience so being able to bring stuff to Bathurst that people may not have ever seen before or may not have had a chance to try, it’s fun to show people different things and maybe educate people a bit more about food. There’s lots of different types of cuisine out there so to sort of stick to one and only do conventional food that people are used to would be a huge missed opportunity for me.
Do you change it up quite a bit?
To be honest, I don’t. Every year I seem to be adding a menu item on and we do some features and stuff but since we’re a seasonal business, when we open in the spring, people want their favourites back because they haven’t had them all winter. Any time I try to take anything off the menu I have a dozen people saying “where’s that item?” I want to give my customers what they want, too. That’s obviously important.
Do you have any plans for the future.
We’re currently working on opening a restaurant here in Bathurst. Because we’ve been in business for four years now and we operate under the Jobie’s brand, for myself I want to do something different and something that I’m able to be a bit more creative at. I have quite a range in my background of different types of food that I cook. We’ll definitely be getting away from the classic food truck food that we do, whether it’s burgers and pulled pork and fries and stuff like that. We’re going to be doing more plated food and stuff that’s a bit higher end but still keeping it accessible for people here in Bathurst and of course for anyone else who comes to visit.