“I’ve eaten in a lot of restaurants, but I’ve never worked in a professional kitchen,” says Stefanie Ashby, who tried to make it as an artist in New York City before turning to the world of advertising and graphic design. The Monterey High School graduate considered opening a retail space when she returned to the Peninsula four years ago.
Recently, however, Ashby hit the streets in her brand-new food truck, custom built with the help of a fabricator. The Happy Anchor (“I’ve always been fond of anchors,” she explains) food truck specializes in clever grilled cheese sandwiches, served with tomato bisque and tater tots. The website and Facebook page reveal where it will be.
Weekly: Are you crazy?
Ashby: [Laughing] Yeah, I think you have to be to go right into hardcore food service. It’s daunting, but I have the feeling it’s the right fit.
Why grilled cheese?
In the beginning I had all these ideas. But you can do a lot with grilled cheese sandwiches. They can be sweet or savory. We’ll have daily specials and I want to add a seafood element. I want to offer as much as I can within the limitations of a food truck kitchen.
Is there anything you can’t do with grilled cheese?
I’ve seen so many crazy things – two slices of mac and cheese as bread. I’ve done it with blueberries.
How difficult is it to get permits?
It’s a process. The county and the city [Monterey] are great. Some of the documentation is confusing. If you don’t have it right, you have to go back.
And there’s a vehicle involved.
Exactly – there’s lots of insurance, there’s safety all around. You have to make sure you have everything in order. Organization is key because your head’s exploding. There are so many things.