Victoria has a stellar reputation when it comes to sandwiches and the latest player in the game has helped the city level up with her locally sourced pulled pork sandwiches.
Bangers is the brainchild of Victoria Matthews, a chef who’s been in the restaurant game for many years before deciding to go it on her own and work for herself.
Matthews has been making pulled pork since the beginning and over time, developed recipes that will leave her customers feeling satisfied, full and even somewhat healthy.
She’s put on four successful sandwich pop-ups at Shatterbox Cafe on Fisgard Street in less than two months with her fifth coming up soon on May 13th, at the Breakwater Tasting Room.
Matthews was born and raised in Victoria and has been working in the food service industry since 2003 when she stepped into the kitchen at the age of 16-years-old.
“It’s been 20 years on and off that I’ve been cooking for,” Matthews told Victoria Buzz. “First restaurant I worked at was the Sticky Wicket when I was 16, that’s crazy.”
After her time at the Sticky Wicket, Matthews cut her teeth at every kind of establishment from fine-dining to pub-fare and even worked as a personal chef and caterer.
In January of this year, Matthews says she got sick of working for anyone but herself and decided to test her mettle and go it on her own.
“I was catering previous to taking this on full-time,” explained Matthews. “I just, honestly, thought, ‘why am I doing this for someone else when I could be doing this on my own and be cooking the food I actually want to be cooking.”
When asked why she chose pulled pork to be the focus of her pop-up business, Matthews said, “Victoria’s lacking good pulled pork in my eyes.”
Before landing on pulled pork as a vehicle for her culinary creativity, Matthews tossed a few ideas around, but really wanted to find a niche in something she thought Victoria needed.
“I thought about a couple different ideas, I thought about doing Mexican-style tacos and doing them properly, I thought about doing burgers and everything more on the artisan scale — more gourmet,” said Matthews.
“But yeah, I feel like pulled pork, and with that, branching out to doing more than that like brisket and chicken and stuff like that.”
“With sandwiches, it’s just fun and you can be as creative as you want with them,” she added.
And with that attitude, Matthews set her sights on pulled pork perfection. She developed two sandwich recipes and a potato salad recipe as a side dish using all local ingredients.
“I just had an idea in my head, like I love chimichurri and the purple slaw — these are ingredients I use and are all my recipes from the past,” Matthews told Victoria Buzz.
“I just put them together thinking that would be really good, so it didn’t take long for me to throw the sandwiches together as far as what my vision was and how I wanted them to taste.”
“I just wanted them to be different than anything you could get in Victoria,” she added.
The ‘El Originale’ is a slightly spicy option for adventure inclined eaters made with locally sourced, antibiotic free slow braised pork shoulder which is seasoned with Argentinian flavours, a purple slaw and chimichurri and lime aioli.
Her second sandwich option is packed with tang. The ‘Homie G’s BBQ’ is equally as slow braised pork but this shoulder is marinated in a mustardy, North Carolina BBQ sauce finding a delicate balance between savoury, sweet, tang and heat. The Homie G comes with homemade pickles, a special creamy coleslaw dressed up in a BBQ aioli.
Her potato salad is called ‘The Level Up’ and comes with locally sourced grilled chorizo, roasted red and Yukon gold potatoes, feta, fresh herbs and a buttermilk dressing.
One sandwich with a ‘Level Up’ will leave the hungriest of folks full without a food coma.
Matthews was ambitious, taking on a pop-up every week based out of the Shatterbox Cafe basement kitchen space and a half beginning in March of this year, but has decided to slow her roll looking ahead.
Taking inspiration from the response another Victoria pop-up sandwich shop, Hero Sandwiches has, Matthews wants to carve out her identity in the culinary landscape of the city.
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Her next event will be close to a month after her April 26th pop-up, but this one will be located at the Breakwater Tasting Room on Saturday, May 13th. Unlike her previous pop-ups, this one will not require her customers to pre-order their sandwiches — they can just walk in and order one if they choose to do so.
“I know me, as a consumer the last thing I want to do is pre-order a sandwich two weeks in advance,” Matthews commiserated. “Like, do I even want pulled pork that night, I don’t know.”
“The thing that’s really nice about the Breakwater Tasting Room is that people can come and grab a pint and just order the food right there.”
“I’m only really thinking as far as the summer right now and I’m trying to wrap my head around what that even looks like,” Matthews explained.
More pop-ups will be happening through the heat of the spring and summer at Shatterbox as well as a few breweries that have expressed interest, according to Matthews.
Customers can keep track of those pop-ups and meal-plan for their future selves via the Bangers website.
Matthews plans on taking Bangers the distance while separately, eventually opening a dive bar which serves artisan food along with her business partner.
“Ideally, I’d like to find a spot, which doesn’t have to be like a ‘sit-down’ [restaurant] where you can come and grab a sandwich for lunch or dinner and take-off,” Matthews told Victoria Buzz.
“I guess that’s the step between the pop-ups and the dive bar — a small take-out spot.”
She’s only just begun on her way to creating a sandwich empire in Victoria and although her plans are lofty, Matthews has nothing but determination to see her vision through to the finish line.
“It’s just baby steps,” she said. “If it blows up this summer, great, but if it doesn’t I’m okay with the process.”
Check out her sandwiches for yourself at her May 13th pop-up at the Breakwater Tasting Room!
Bangers X Breakwater Tasting Room
- Where: Breakwater Cafe, 199 Dallas Road
- When: Saturday May 13th