Aleem Syed, a paraplegic, is a chef who is the owner-operator of the first wheelchair accessible food truck in Canada. The food truck is called the Holy Grill and Aleem serves Halal dishes. His life is featured on a thirteen episode documentary called “Food Spin with Chef Aleem” available online.
Aleem named his food truck the “Holy Grill” because he says his doctors do not understand how he made it through a random shooting that resulted in a spinal cord injury. Aleem was motivated to become a chef by a fellow chef who uses a wheelchair.
“I was really fortunate to have met an individual by the name of Pascal Ribreau, he’s a chef who is paralyzed and used to own (Toronto restaurant) Celestin. He came into my hospital room and was like, ‘Hey, I heard a lot about you. Would you like to come and see how I do things?” And I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ I had cutting board on my lap and starting preparing his crab bisque and he was like, ‘You don’t have to worry. I think you’re going to be fine.’"
Aleem’s food truck has an electronic ramp underneath the truck. He states that is how he and other wheelchair users board the truck. Aleem had to make sure there was enough room on the truck for him to maneuver throughout with his staff and guests.
The Holy Grill is a stationed food truck, but they do catering for weddings. Aleem is Muslim, and the menu of the food truck is Halal dishes - which is meat that is blessed or prayed upon.
“(The Menu is) pretty much food that I love to eat on my day off: Steak frites. Our Holy Burger (with) the special sauce we have on it. We also do three signature poutines, the butter chicken poutine is phenomenal. Philly cheese steak fries.”
Aleem is working towards his dream of one day opening his own restaurant.
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