Junked Food Co Inc
By Jessica Lockhart

Where hybrid foods reign supreme

Arguably, one could say that the demand for food mash-ups in Toronto first started at the Canadian National Exhibition. After all, who doesn’t remember the year that New York’s cronut – a combination between a croissant and a donut – made its Toronto debut? But outside of the CNE’s Food Hall, there are few opportunities for Torontonians to fill their wacky hybrid food cravings.

“Everyone goes crazy for food mash-ups, but no one really knows where to get them,” explains Brian McKilligan. But, along with business partner Vince Farago, Brian aims to change that. Inspired by Instagram food mash-up accounts where users share their unlikely food combos (think ramen-fried chicken, sushi burritos and spaghetti tacos), the duo opened Junked Food Co. in January 2015.

Our food is messy and fun. And that’s what we want – we want to be fun. - Vince Farago, owner
Junked Food Co. - Takeout food, mashup food, junk food, waffles, catering, homemade sauces
Photo by Stephanie Tudin.

Food mash-ups on the dark (and light) side

Brian and Vince, both service industry veterans, identified a demand in their neighbourhood for a quick late-night food joint that offered more than just pizza or poutine. So, with a focus on fresh ingredients and house-made items (including their signature Jolly Rancher BBQ sauce and tater tots), the duo's Dundas West restaurant offers “junked” food – not “junk” food.

The difference is that although you can order a personal-sized deep dish pizza (which Brian and Vince confess is probably their most decadent menu item), you can also order a chicken salad, soup, homemade chili with dark chocolate or waffle sandwiches stuffed with vegetables.

“Instantly people think that we’re grease-based,” explains Brian. “Once people get to know us, they realize that we have a light and a dark side to every menu item.” Open until 4 a.m. on weekends, the pair's unpretentious approach to snack food is sure to please the after-bar crowd.

Junked Food Co. - Takeout food, mashup food, junk food, waffles, catering, homemade sauces
Champions of hybrid food mash-ups, the Dundas West takeout joint Junked Food Co. offers unexpected flavour combinations in all of its dishes. Photo by Stephanie Tudin
The Birthday Party is a vegan take on Junked Food Co's cookie scoops, featuring edible raw cookie served and scooped just like ice cream.
The Birthday Party is a vegan take on Junked Food Co's cookie scoops, featuring edible raw cookie served and scooped just like ice cream. Photo courtesy of Junked Food Co

Customer-inspired food creations

Not surprisingly for a business that was Instagram-inspired, social media plays a key role in Junked Food Co.'s menu.

While Junked’s standard offerings are displayed on the wall – you can always order a grilled cheese donut stuffed with Dr. Pepper pulled pork, a waffle pizza, or a cake cup topped with candy – only their followers will know about their “secret” menu. These secret offerings often feature renditions of the shop's regular items with a twist and are driven by their customers, who can hashtag photos of their food cravings with #ShowUsYourJunk.

“It’s a community thing," says Brian. "If someone says, ‘I saw this on the Internet’ and send me a picture, I’ll see if I can play with it. It’s our chance to do fun stuff.”

The duo's experimental spirit also goes beyond their recipes; Vince and Brian spearheaded the renovation of Junked’s dining area and kitchen. To stay away from the reclaimed wood trend, they turned the former art gallery into an inviting takeout spot using bright splashes of orange and blue. From this unique space the two also offer catering services and keep a small retail space where they sell their homemade sauces.

“We’re ‘junked.’ We’re not something proper. We’re supposed to be fun,” says Vince. “Our food is messy and fun. And that’s what we want – we want to be fun.”

[Header image courtesy of Junked Food Co. Caption: The SMoreo has been around since day one.  Served on an Oreo Belgian waffle, this dish features toasted house made marshmallow, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, Oreo, Oreo crumbs and a house made chocolate sauce.]

Junked Food Co. - Takeout food, mashup food, junk food, waffles, catering, homemade sauces
Junked Food Co. - Takeout food, mashup food, junk food, waffles, catering, homemade sauces
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