Salad or Sandwich with a Side of Conversation in Hickson

The owner of Stories Café is the latest food option in Oxford County, and it may very well be one of the most unique ones. Kendra Cook and her family live in Brooksdale and she has recently opened an interesting food truck business in East Zorra-Tavistock.

Kendra Cooke has a work background in social services spending decades performing frontline community food and housing services. “I had children and moved out of that sector. Now that I am getting back into the workforce it came down to my passion for feeding people mixed with my social services background.” She added placing the food truck in Hickson is a way to combat a ‘food desert.’ “Places where people have to travel great distances to find any affordable, fresh foods.”

Before Kendra opened her truck in the parking lot at Parion Animal Nutrition in Hickson there were no dining options for anyone local without driving to Woodstock or Tavistock. She said the feedback so far has been tremendous. “Particularly from the residents of Hickson. Everyone I have spoken to have been so grateful to have an option in their community. As it stands, it is a fifteen-minute drive to Woodstock to even get fast food. The one thing I didn’t anticipate but should have; people see a food truck and think French fries. Around the lunch hour people stop in and ask if I have fries and burgers. I say no but let me tell you all the good things I do have. It will take time. There aren’t a lot of food trucks out there that don’t serve fried foods,” added Kendra.

While not a professionally trained cook, Kendra said she does have experience making food for large groups. “I had certain training like Safe Food Handling and also working with different chefs to learn how to prepare for larger numbers. I am also using a 50-kilometer radius utilizing what’s in season to make beautiful, delicious, healthy food.” She said we grow so much of the food for the province in Southwestern Ontario, but a lot of people live in these food deserts. “We don’t have great access to our own food at affordable prices.”

When asked where the name for the food truck came from Kendra said her professional background played a factor. “I really do value individual stories and a lot of the focus I took in my career was in bridging the gap between socioeconomic divisions through the use of personal stories. I strongly believe we can find something to empathize with or have something in common with anyone if we sat and shared our stories with one another.” She added that would go a long way to bridging other gaps such as resources, public health, and social determinants of health. “I love the food part from a personal standpoint. But I love the opportunity to have a mobile community that can bridge any number of gaps.”

Kendra said while providing an opportunity to chat is important, she wanted people to focus just as much on the quality local food she is serving. “Very good food from lots of local producers. It’s not just me. I really want to highlight existing small businesses, growers, bakers, and dairy farmers.” Stories Café will have a variety of fresh baking such as muffins, squares, and cookies, all of which will focus on what’s in season locally. “I will always try to do one or two lunch specials based on again what’s local. It will always include a Raw Carrot Soup Enterprise soup which is a non-profit employing individuals with intellectual disabilities (in Innerkip). I usually craft a hot or cold sandwich, sometimes quiche or a veggies and dip protein pack. I have also added all-day fried egg sandwiches with Bright Cheese made to order. Kintore coffee and Upper Thames soda are always on the menu.”

She is hoping her business venture will become self-sustaining at some point but has set Stories Café up as a social enterprise. “I’m not a registered non-profit because there’s a lot of actual expense in doing that. But I have built my business model around focusing on building community wealth versus personal wealth. I’m not looking to do anything other than paying any staff I might hire a living wage and to cover my costs.”

Kendra said her daughters are young but are very eager to be helpful and encouraging. “My six-year-old decorated a tip container for me. She thought that was very important. My husband works in the trades,  and he was very instrumental in helping me troubleshoot issues with water hookups and things like that.”

The truck’s hours are currently 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Monday to Friday and Kendra said she will post any changes on the Hickson Facebook page. She can be reached at 519-830-2811 or

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