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What’s market day without options?

Elmira Farmers’ Market manager Allan Martin and Christina Schal and her food truck Berlin 95. [Sean Heeger]

Stopping by a farmers’ market for fresh produce and homemade goodies is a quintessential summertime activity. Ditto for grabbing a bite to eat while you’re at it. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, both were on hold for while.

When the Elmira Farmers’ Market reopened, there were the kinds of changes retail operations everywhere had to make, and a decided lack of vendors cooking up food. Enter Christina Schal and her Berlin 95 food truck.

Allan Martin, who manages the Elmira market, notes Public Health department restrictions made it difficult for vendors to cook food at the market. He tried reaching out to a number of food trucks to bridge the gap, but with limited results. When he talked to Berlin 95 owner Christina Schal, she was ecstatic when asked by Martin to serve customers at the market each week; that her food is absolutely fantastic is what made his decision even better, he said.

Now that the restrictions have continued to ease across all sectors of the province and things begin to open up a little more, food vendors have returned to the market in Elmira. Bringing an authentic taste of German cuisine, the Berlin 95 food truck has signed on to be the exclusive vendor this year.

Schal and her truck have attended for two weeks now, and the public’s reaction has been amazing, he added.

“The first week she served 35 people, the second week she served somewhere around the neighbourhood of 60. I’ve had nothing but great comments from people that have come in and tried her food,” said Martin.

Schal put her German roots to work in launching Berlin 95 just a few years ago, bringing authentic cuisine with a twist to hungry customers everywhere. She originally started with baked potatoes, but then added in foods such as schnitzel, sausage, cabbage rolls, roast beef and the like. At the farmers’ market, she also created a different menu – including breakfast options – so there was something for everyone to enjoy.

“At the market I’m a bit more versatile than going out … to the churches or community centres or big events. So, at the market I serve breakfast and I have a larger variety of menu,” said Schal. “My specialty is schnitzel, so we make the food, we make the sauerkraut and prep them and cut the schnitzel. We have potato salads and fresh salads; I have things for the kids as well like chicken nuggets and fries. But my specialty is German food, [and] I Canadianized it, a little fusion with Canada – I added poutine because the younger generations grew up with that.”

She says everything she serves is big portions because she wants people to be happy the next day while enjoying the leftovers that they and their family may not have been able to finish the night before.

Even though she has only been out to the market a couple of weeks now, Schal said she is extremely happy with how things have gone and continues to look forward to her market visits.

“It’s such a nice place and the people are so kind and so appreciative and so happy; it’s a nice way to start the day in the morning and to have a great Saturday. I love it there. I’m grateful that they all were so nice to me and accepted me fully coming in as a food truck – like all the vendors and the people that came so far. They were so, so welcoming; I’m really grateful for that and I really hope that this is something to do for a long, long time,” she said.

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