This summer, Alison Pakula is taking an iconic childhood staple and putting her own cheesy, stringy, gooey twist on it.
The 28-year-old is opening a gourmet grilled cheese trailer down by Whitehorse’s waterfront wharf next week, called Alligator’s.
Pakula, who grew up in a family that owned a restaurant in northern B.C., said she was partly inspired by the resurgence in popularity the sandwich has had in recent years.
“When we moved from Annie Lake Road to the city last year, we bought a trailer without really knowing what we’d do with it,” she said.
“We were tossing a bunch of ideas around when a few people said ‘Man, you should really do grilled cheese.’”
The trailer had previously belonged to food vendors in Whitehorse, so it was already fully equipped and ready to go, she said.
Now she’s putting the finishing touches on the outside, which will feature decals of her logo.
A few months ago, Pakula started doing research into the idea of selling gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and quickly found that others were doing it in bigger Canadian cities, too.
Her boyfriend served as the initial guinea pig.
“We tried over a dozen different ones, where basically we’d look at what we had in the fridge and threw it together,” she said.
She came up with eight recipes and organized a tasting for close to 40 friends at her Porter Creek home in February.
The guests even filled out forms to rate their favourites – one of which is called the Ukrainian.
It features homemade sauerkraut, kielbasa sausage, basil aoli, goat cheese, extra-aged cheddar and whole-grain Dijon mustard on homemade white or whole wheat bread.
Another one, tentatively called the Pink Lady, is made up of thinly sliced beets marinated in apple cider vinegar, chopped fresh mint, and goat cheese.
“Of course I’ll always have the plain grilled cheese, too,” she said, “but I want to be known for my creative fillings.”
Meat lovers can choose from bacon, ham and prosciutto, too.
Last weekend, Pakula took the Ukrainian on a trial run as part of the Yukon UpStarts Youth Entrepreneurship Conference, where participants were given one-day business licences and health permits.
“It was all very short notice but it went really well,” she said.
“The trial run was great to realize that trying to offer eight different sandwiches at once would be crazy. So I’ll be offering two different kinds each day and rotating through them.”
Pakula will also serve two different breakfast sandwiches: your typical egg and bacon sandwich and another that features a mouth-watering combination of brie, stewed apple with Saskatoon jam and egg-dipped bread.
“Like a stuffed French toast,” she explained.
And people can order soups and salads as sides, too.
Campbell’s soup has nothing on Pakula’s homemade recipe: whole tomatoes, roasted in an oven for an hour, coupled with roasted garlic, vegetable stock and seasoning.
There might also be plans to order cheese in bulk from a cheese shop that will soon be opening in Horwood’s Mall, she said.
“I’m super excited, I think it’ll be a fun time,” she said.
“I love food, experimenting with it and being creative with it. And I like interacting with people and doing something that’s active.”
The grand opening of Alligator’s is Friday, May 15.
It’ll be open six days a week all summer long, Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Contact Myles Dolphin at email@example.com