10 Bucks Or Less

A New Food Truck Brings Gourmet Grilled Cheese to the Streets of Sarasota

Big Blue Grilled Cheese Company is serving cheesy sandwiches at neighborhoods throughout Sarasota.

By Cooper Levey-Baker August 27, 2020

Big Blue Grilled Cheese Company serving customers in the Rosemary District on a recent evening.

Brenna Foster and her husband, Jose Rios, began kicking around the idea of starting a new food truck business last year. They started by surfing Craigslist, looking for a used truck to scoop up. They eventually found a gem—a stripped down mobile kitchen with a shiny new blue paint job. "The blue truck came up for sale, and it was perfect," Foster says. "It just felt like it was meant to be, so we jumped on it."

In addition to giving Foster and Rios the horsepower they needed to get their business going, the truck also made picking a name for their company easy. Big Blue Grilled Cheese Company was born.

Foster worked as a restaurant server for years before starting her own photography business, and Rios works as the kitchen manager at Station 400 in the Rosemary District, but neither had ever developed a menu. When a friend suggested serving gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, Foster and Rios began testing different combinations before settling on a basic menu of seven or so sandwiches, plus rotating specials.

The truck debuted in May. Its rollout has been complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has limited some of the places where the truck can set up. But Foster says word has spread to homeowner's associations, which have begun hosting the truck. Big Blue has no regular schedule of pit stops yet, but Foster says she and Rios hope to eventually establish a weekly routine. For now, it's best to follow the truck's social media accounts to see where it's heading.

I checked out Big Blue last week, on an evening when it was set up at the CitySide apartment complex in the Rosemary District.

The Big Blue menu starts with a simple grilled cheese and grows more creative as you scroll down the menu. Each costs $8 and comes with a bag of potato chips. The caprese includes mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and a balsamic reduction, while a vegan option is made with dairy-free "Gouda," slices of green apple and a smear of Dijon mustard.

My favorite is "Big Blue," which combines blue cheese (of course) with provolone and caramelized onions. The super-sweet onions temper the pleasant sting of the blue cheese, and the sandwich is prepared to perfection, with thick slices of bread toasted until golden and light brown on each side. I'm getting hungry remembering it.

Another winner? The "Popper," which nods to the flavor of jalapeño poppers with cheddar and pickled jalapeños. The taste delivers an immediate psychic throwback to lazy weekend afternoons as an undergraduate, scarfing some poppers while watching Major League II for the 10th time.

Foster says the idea is to keep the menu simple and uncomplicated—to focus on executing a handful of sandwiches really well, rather than wowing people with a massive selection. After all, the beauty of a grilled cheese sandwich is the alchemy that occurs when you combine just a few of the right ingredients. "We didn't want to have too many choices," Foster says.

Big Blue Grilled Cheese sets up at various locations around the area. Follow the truck on Facebook for the latest. For more info, call (941) 822-7933.

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