Food Truck Profile: Grilled Cheese Truck

Food Truck Profile: Grilled Cheese Truck

The Grilled Cheese Truck emerged in the LA food truck scene after chef Dave Danhi entered his Cheesy Mac and Rib sandwich in the Los Angeles Grilled Cheese Invitational in 2009. Since then, the Grilled Cheese Truck has been heralded as one of the best places to get grilled cheese by Zagat, CBS News, GQ Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler, among others.

The Grilled Cheese Truck truck emerged on the LA food truck scene after chef Dave Danhi entered his Cheesy Mac and Rib sandwich in the Los Angeles Grilled Cheese Invitational in 2009. Since then, the Grilled Cheese Truck has been heralded as one of the best places to get grilled cheese by Zagat, CBS News, GQ Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler, among others. Truck Name: The Grilled Cheese Truck Cuisine style: Gourmet Grilled Cheese Usual Locations: All over LA and beyond. Years in Business: 3.5 Owner/Chef: Dave Danhi Background: I competed in the 2009 Grilled Cheese Invitational, an annual competition that had taken place for seven years at that point. Over 6,000 people showed up that year and it woke me up to the fact that there was a huge, fanatical grilled cheese following out there. That’s when I realized that the world needed a Grilled Cheese Truck. I was a chef for 30 years (all fine dining) and felt this would be a way for me to be creative again and have fun. What's your most difficult item to prepare and serve?  It really changes with the special. I like to push some limits and some of the melts take more technique than others. I will say that the Cheesy Mac and Rib takes the most labor to produce. It has Southern mac and cheese (made from scratch from a recipe that I’ve been developing for over 15 years now that takes a while to prepare, chill, portion for the truck), pulled BBQ pork (we rub the pork with a house made dry rub and marinate it for a full day). Then we smoke the pork for at least seven hours in our smoker and finish it in the oven for almost two hours. After that, it's fall-off-the-bone tender and we pick it. When we heat it up for service, we mix it with our homemade BBQ sauce (another evolutionary  recipe of over a decade). The sandwich is topped off with caramelized onions that we slow cook to develop their sweetness for about two hours. That's a lot of work. I would estimate that 35 percent of our prep time in our kitchens is to prepare this sandwich’s ingredients. Top seller? The Cheesy Mac and Rib is by far our runaway top seller. Sometimes this sandwich accounts for almost 80 percent of our sales on any day. This is the Melt that I entered into the 2009 grilled cheese invitational that caused me to come up with the idea of the Grilled Cheese Truck. That has obviously gotten a lot of attention. What inspired that combination of flavors? When I first started thinking about entering the 2009 Grilled Cheese Invitational, I thought of my “famous” mac and cheese in a sandwich would work. As I thought about it, I thought about how whenever I'm eating my mac and cheese there’s always some BBQ on the plate and I love to drag it through the residual BBQ sauce that’s left on the plate. That's when the thought of having BBQ pork in it came up. Caramelized onions was a natural addition as was using sharp cheddar.  WHAM! The Cheesy Mac and Rib was born. Zagat recently revealed an item on your secret menu: the Motherloaded, which is two Cheesy Mac and Rib sandwiches held together by mac and cheese and bacon. Are there other secret menu items? Where can we find out about them? Secret menu items have developed and I'm working on actually posting them—in a secret spot not available yet. If you could meet one chef, who would it be and why? I met Julia Child way back, but it was brief. I would love to have had a chance to sit and break bread with her. Favorite music to listen to in the truck? Anything motivational and upbeat. Favorite location? They all have a unique feel so it’s hard to say I have a favorite. I really enjoy our stop at The Brig in Venice for First Friday. It’s the location we first rolled the truck out so there’s an attachment to that as well as it’s a great, communal atmosphere. I go each month and talk to  our guests. It’s amazing how many regulars there are there.
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