A new truck is on the move in Lafayette with Dustin Aguillard behind the wheel and the griddle, serving up gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and a new specialty: peaux dogs, a hot dog and poboy hybrid.
This month Aguillard is debuting the Acadiana Grilled Cheese Co. refurbished food truck, which has a story of its own. It was built in 1975 and served as a Bunny Bread truck and the previous Joe on the Go mobile restaurant. The truck, candy apple red with a smiling raccoon on the side, will soon be all over town serving up grilled cheese sandwiches chock full of South Louisiana's favorite meats and a few that take cues from international fare.
"I kind of go a little avant-garde but also traditional, so you never know what to expect," says Aguillard, 38, who cooked in his home test kitchen while the truck wass under construction.
Aguillard's grilled cheese sandwiches are not the basic cheddar-and-butter combo. Instead, he combines tasso and meunster with sauce piquante dipping sauce for the Tasso Rustler or boudin and provolone with crawfish sauce for the Boudin Wrangler on Evangeline Maid, smothered in an herb butter with a touch of mayo - to keep the bread from scorching. For the adventurous, there's the Truffled Mac & Bacon: macaroni with gruyere and fontina, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onion, cheddar and a Thai chili ranch sauce. If your palate is itching for some culinary travel, try the Italiano, a blend of salami, pepperoni, basil, spinach, mozzarella and fresh marinara that is lighter than the other offerings, or the Frenchy, a combination of roast beef, onions, Swiss and au jus. For a trip to the Hawaiian islands, try the Tropic Thunder with Spam, Jack Miller's barbecue sauce, pepper jack, pineapple preserves and chili-ranch dipping sauce.
For the classic, go with the Budget Gourmet, a straight sandwich filled with tons of American cheese with tomato soup. The Pimento Cheezer is so gooey it doesn't need a dipping sauce, and it's filled with roasted bell pepper and sharp cheddar. Aguillard is also opening the menu to suggestions, and whomever suggests a concoction that makes the board will have the opportunity to name it and receive the sandwich for free.
"Most of my stuff is going to be appealing, but I'm going to have some off-the-wall stuff sometimes. I have a passion for food," says Aguillard, "and it's a creative outlet. I was told recently that I should be my own boss, because people with my personality should manage themselves. I grew up, of course, in a household with good cooking, but I didn't start until I left home and went to college. (I'm) not classically trained, but I feel I know how to cook. I think if you have a passion for food and you're artistic, you can create your own."
Aguillard says he's always had a hankering to open a restaurant, and six months ago he found a location to house his culinary concoctions - but something changed. "I weighed my options of one location versus mobility, and happened to stumble across the food truck for sale and it just seemed to make more sense with the trend. Most people love cheese, and I'm passionate about cheese, and cheese goes well with so many things, whether it's fruit or meat or by itself. It seems like it could be a streamlined way to make gourmet-tasting grilled cheese. We have fries, we have waffles, we have burgers, and I'm hoping to corner the market on the grilled cheese. And there's so much versatility - that's the main thing."
That versatility also appears in Aguillard's peaux dogs, a French bread sandwich filled with sausages and gourmet toppings, like pork and venison sausage topped with dark cherry preserves, dill aioli and Vermont white cheddar. Preserves and jams will play a central role in his cooking - all local. In addition to the sandwiches, Aguillard also plans to serve one plate lunch a day, usually gumbos, étouffées or a version of rice and gravy, like his Blackpot Cook-off-winning pigeon and tasso gravy.
Once lunch is mastered, breakfast is the next step for the Acadiana Grilled Cheese Co., with more Southern-inspired dishes, like cornbread muffins stuffed with boudin and Aguillard's "coonass quesadilla" - loose boudin in a pastry with crawfish dipping sauce.
Find Acadiana Grilled Cheese Co. five days a week at his various locations, including on Pinhook near the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, on Johnston near And Books Too, or by Laborde Diagnostics on Kaliste Saloom. To find the truck's location, find Acadiana Grilled Cheese Co. on Facebook and Twitter.