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Calgary sisters built their biz on the fry

Fries and Dolls mobile truck with their "Sophia" fries, made with truffle oil and Grana Padano cheese.

Nothing brings sisters together like food. Especially if you are Lani, 32, and Lisa, 29, Buchanan. These two prairie girls decided to combine their strengths (and love of food) and start a business together. Now, nearly a year later, the sisters own one of Calgary's most successful food trucks, called Fries & Dolls. But when the pair aren't wearing their polka-dot aprons and frying up their frites, they can usually be found experimenting with new foods to give them inspiration for their next fry dish. Anyone for a dessert fry?

Why a fry truck?

Lani: I was going down to California all the time and eating at high-end restaurants as well as in side-of-the-road diners, and everywhere I went there was some type of gourmet fries. Especially garlic fries. And I think part of being a woman – for whatever reason, it's ingrained in our DNA that French fries are delicious.

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What's your favourite way to eat fries?

Lani: I'm a garlic fry girl. You must be a fan of garlic to enjoy these and you have to be okay with having garlic breath afterward! And I have a huge sweet tooth so I really love the Sandra D, which has brown sugar, cinnamon and cumin on top of sweet potato fries. I also really loved a dish we did last year during Thanksgiving called the Mrs. C. It too had the brown sugar, cinnamon and cumin but it was topped off with a little port cranberry sauce and fluff. It almost tasted like doughnuts and every time I took a bite I was like, "I'm pretty much in heaven."

Lisa: We just introduced the Ivy last week. It's named after one of our most spectacular followers and it is inspired by her favourite things. It has applewood-smoked cheddar, prosciutto, honey and truffle oil. It is to die for.

What flavours are you experimenting with these days?

Lani: French fries are one of those really fantastic bases that can do a lot. They are simple so you can really give them different flavours. We have recently been experimenting with a true dessert French fry, toying around with some dark chocolate, salted caramel toppings. So we're potentially looking at going toward a banana-boat-styled French fry. Just add in some banana chips and some marshmallow fluff. It's exciting.

Do you ever get sick of fries?

Lani: Interestingly enough, I actually don't like potatoes. It's kind of like people who don't like tomatoes but love ketchup. Every other non-French-fry way of potato and I'm like, "No thank you, I'll pass."

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Lisa: I find that I don't crave French fries until the winter [when the truck is in hibernation]. And it's tough because in the winter it's hard to find a place that serves gluten-free fries since most restaurants with deep-fry cook other things in the same frier as they do their fries. I think it's one of those situations where you want what you can't have.

What's the most important tool in your truck?

Lisa: Sturdy stainless bowls. We use these to toss our fries. And tongs are very much our friends. Oh, and of course our aprons.

What's the secret to getting the perfect crispy-on-the-outside-but-not-overdone French fry?

Lisa: I'm the one doing most of the cooking and I'm not classically trained. My mom trained me. So at first, it was a little bit of trial and error to get the perfect fry. But I've found that once they start to get a little golden brown, I feel them with the tong; if they are firm that's a good sign. If they are still kind of mushy, they're not done yet. Or even better, pull one out, let it cool on a piece of paper towel and then give her a try. That's really how I cook everything. You have to try everything. The taste-and-go is still my method on the truck.

Cereal or toast?

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Lani: Toast.

Favourite summer fruit?

Lisa: Nectarines.

Cupcake and brownies?

Lani: Cupcake (chocolate).

Lisa: It's hard to find a gluten-free cupcake, so if I can find it, I'll eat it.

Favourite veg?

Lani: Yellow beans, fresh out of the garden.

Lisa: Broccolini.

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