Surgeon From Richmond Starts Up a Food Truck Business To Help Local Charities

Surgeon From Richmond Starts Up a Food Truck Business To Help Local Charities

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Dr. Sharadh Sampath, a Richmond specialist began a food truck called Cultivate to help raise money for charity, and give training and work to individuals from marginalized and under-addressed backgrounds.

“I am super happy to be a part of this,” said Hamilton, who’s now the manager for Cultivate after 10 years of owning Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck, which she sold in 2020.

Executive chef Ken Iaci (Joe Fortes, the Cannery, Papi’s Ristorante Italiano) and Hamilton plan a solid, healthy, fresh menu each and every week, and there are always vegan and gluten-free choices. The truck shows up at Peace Arch Hospital on Wednesdays, and shifts back and forth between St. Paul’s and Vancouver General Hospital on Thursdays, Richmond and Mount St. Joseph clinics on Fridays. Hopes are that they can start to cater soon.

“We’re building a business right now and getting it out there,” Hamilton said of the fledgling culinary social enterprise. “And Sharadh has huge plans, it’s not just this one truck. Once we get this up and running, he said, ‘Let’s take this across Canada, and there’s no reason why more people can’t be doing this.’”

The latest menu highlighted tempeh tacos, chicken fiesta salad, a delicious tuna salad croissant with exactly the right amount of mayo, and chicken tortilla soup.

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Sampath’s grandma, when she wasn’t protecting creatures, went through her days taking care of hungry schoolchildren and bringing food to civil workers back in India.

Her dedication to the local area and her graciousness motivated him. He even wrote a letter to her when he was only seven years old to inform her that he would one day help others as well, by becoming a surgeon.

“When Sharadh was first talking to me about this idea,” said Dr. Ekua Yorke, a colleague of Sampath’s, “I thought, ‘Yeah, it’s great,’ but I just didn’t see how he was going to implement it. He’s a busy surgeon, he’s doing all these things, and now he’s going to galvanize a group of people to come together for this cause,” She continued. “Seeing what he’s been able to do and where it’s come to, it’s a beautiful vision, I think it’s inspirational for us all.”

Sampath had batted the thought around for quite a while, zeroing in on a physical  brick and mortar start up.

“That idea got crushed hard with COVID, obviously,” he said.

So he turned to the possibility of a food truck.

“You recognize that while everyone had it rough during COVID, there were certain segments of the population, especially folks from marginalized backgrounds, that had it way worse than the rest of us,” he said, popping out from Richmond Hospital between surgeries. “Part of the goal here is that everyone in the community can feel like they are supporting growth within their own community, local charities, hospital foundations.”

The food truck outgrew Elevate Society, whose goals Sampath’s culinary social enterprise mirrors.

The definitive delight would be seeing individuals prepared and trained at Cultivate continue on and begin their own culinary project, Sampath said.

“If we can inspire folks to think, ‘Okay, if this guy can do it, maybe there’s something I can do for my community to make life just a little bit better for those less fortunate than me,’ then that would be amazing. If someone came back to me 20 years from now and said, ‘Hey, your truck was good, but look what I’ve done, it’s better!’ that would be a real win.”