Photo by Chung Chow
For Vince Morlet and partner, chef Alex Tung, life couldn’t be better. The former owner-chef combo from Tapenade—a high end restaurant near the Steveston waterfront—together have a food truck, The Melt Shop, that is selling grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.
But this is not two slabs of wonder bread, with a reprocessed cheese slice in between, served beside a cup of reheated tinned soup.
“Basically we’ve taken comfort food, but it’s kind of fun. We took the idea of the grilled cheese and notched it up a little bit but, with Alex being the kind of chef he is, he’s not doing just the regular grilled cheese,” says Morlet, who jokingly goes by the moniker, Grande Fromage (Big Cheese in French).
With artisanal bread from Richmond, a variety of cheeses from a high end cheese purveyor, and the ingredients for the carnivore offerings from Windsor Meats, the taste is a gourmet treat on the street.
They didn’t want something goopy or that was grilled cheese in name only.
“We have come up with some really interesting sandwiches with different cheeses, with different fillings,” Morlet says. “Cheese is still the start. It keeps it a grilled cheese.
“One of the things that bugs me when you have grilled cheese and pull out chunks of stuff not cut up properly, like a bug chunk of bacon or ham. So that was the problem; how to eat something not overly messy? That’s where the bacon jam came in. The same with the smoked mozzarella, and banana peppers,” Morlet says.
Tung, who has been given the nickname Head Cheese, spreads the Porker grilled cheese sandwich with his custom-made bacon jam. It is cooked in their Richmond-based, professional kitchen rented from the Alliance Church on No. 3 Road near Steveston Highway, where he also makes histomato soup from scratch.
“Because I’ve got two kids, Alex has two kids, we just want to keep it simple. We’re seeing a lot of repeat customers say, ‘That was convenient. That was fantastic.’ We want to have a little bit of fun with it.”
Normally situated at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal six days a week, The Melt Shop, as a food van is want to do, travels to private celebrations and public festivals. They started their summer at the Steveston Salmon Festival, July 1.
World Fest, Richmond’s tribute to the summer that was, and the best kick-off to autumn to be found, runs Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 at Minoru Park and the Richmond Arts Centre.
“World Fest? Absolutely we’ll be at World Fest! We are slated to be there on Saturday Sept 1. We are going to be there from open till close.”
It is a taste that will linger in your memory long after the summer sunlight fades and the winter rains patter on our windows.