May 29, 2015 6:21 pm

Chef breaks barriers with custom wheelchair-accessible food truck

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WATCH ABOVE: The wheelchair accessible food truck allows full kitchen use to cook a meal for up to 1000 people. Angie Seth reports.

TORONTO — A new Toronto food truck is possibly the first of its kind in the world.

After years working as a line cook in top Toronto restaurants, an accident in 2008 left chef Aleem Syed paralyzed from the waist down. At first he thought his career was over.

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“I didn’t understand how I could make it work,” Syed told Global News back in December.

A visit from acclaimed French chef Pascal Ribreau convinced him otherwise. Ribreau, who is also paraplegic, had Syed join him in the kitchen to show him it was possible.

Inspired, the halal chef first started a catering business, then a pop-up restaurant.

Now, it’s The Holy Grill food truck.

Syed is set to debut what might be the first wheelchair-accessible food truck in the world. The design took some time.

“You needed a kitchen that he could move around in,” said the truck’s designer Kashif Tejani. “A lot of thing you just have to make fit.”

The lift at the back of the truck was custom-made, and takes up valuable space in the truck. All the small details in the restaurant-on-wheels had to be tweaked to accommodate someone at wheelchair-height. The truck has been in development since summer 2014.

“It was definitely quite challenging,” said Tejani.

READ MORE: Toronto loosens rules for food trucks in city

Syed thanks his family for pushing him over the years. He also hopes his truck might aid him in his goal of one day walking again

“I actually want to take the food truck to the states because of Project Walk, it’s the number one spinal cord facility in North America,” said Syed.

He’d like to take the food truck down south to work during the winter, during food truck off-season due to Toronto’s chilly climate.

Project Walk has a number of locations in cities throughout the U.S. dedicated to activity-based recovery.

“During my down time there I’d like to focus on my legs. I always have that in the back of my head, it would be great to walk again.”

© 2015 Shaw Media

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