Visit Red Barn Food Truck for Your Gourmet Grilled Cheese FixNovember 27, 2018, 11:22 AM HST (Updated September 8, 2020, 10:53 AM)
For 12 years, Will Queja worked as a chef for Four Seasons, Hualalai, leaving early in the morning and returning home late in the evening after his children were asleep. After much thought, Oueja and his wife, April, made the adventurous decision— he should leave the resort and start a food business of his own in order to spend more time with his family.
“The time came when I needed to decide if I wanted to leave the comfort and familiarity of the corporate world and jump into something more risky and unfamiliar,” said Oueja. “When my wife and I finally made the decision to open a food truck, our first concept was to make breakfast burritos. That was going to be ‘our thing.’”
After submitting their idea of breakfast burritos to the Waimea Farmer’s Market at Pukalani Stables, the Oueja’s met with some resistance and opposition. They had a week to create a new menu with a completely different twist.
“We loved the idea of making and selling grilled cheese sandwiches,” he said. “They’re comforting, and there’s an entire palate of flavors and ingredients to choose from. We prayed about it, and a week later we submitted the grilled cheese menu and the committee said, ‘Come aboard.’ That was three years ago. It’s been an awesome change for my family, and I love what I’m doing.”
When it comes to feeding people comfort food, loving what you do is imperative. For the Oueja’s, positively contributing to their community is just as important as feeding them well.
“When we first started the Red Barn food truck, my wife and I asked ourselves what we could do for the community—what can we do that everyone would enjoy,” he explained. “We wanted to give the people a good value for their money and good quality comfort food.”
Incorporating local food sources is also important to Ouejas. Their sandwiches are made with local cheeses, local produce and locally made bread—everything the Big Island has to offer.
“We met this lady, Pam Harsh, at church and she said, ‘I can bake bread for you guys.'” said the Ouejas. “This started a great relationship and we now use her bread which is a delicious artisanal, organic sourdough bread. Now she has her own little company at the market also, so it blossomed into a pretty a great community partnership.”
The Red Truck menu has a flavor for every palate. For the kids, the Cheesy Melt is a classic sandwich with American, Swiss, cheddar and gruyere cheeses, served with a side of tomato bisque.
The Purple Pig puts a Hawaiian twist on the grilled cheese with kalua pork, smoked gouda, lomi tomato and sweet onion, served on taro bread. For spicy food lovers, the Sizzling Serrano is a huge hit. It’s made with bacon jam, boursin and jack cheeses and roasted serrano and Anaheim chilies.
Other delicious options are the Frenchman made with Hamakua and cremini mushrooms, gruyere, beefy caramelized onions and truffle oil, and The Rueben, made with thinly sliced pastrami, raw local sauerkraut, house thousand island and Swiss cheese.
The Ouejas put their hearts and souls into everything they create. You can find them at the Pukalani Stables Farmer’s Market in Waimea every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“When your food comes out and you taste it, hopefully you will be a believer,” the Ouejas said. “People come in and tell us they are here for their grilled cheese fix. We always say, ‘Yes! Come get your grilled cheese fix—definitely!’ We want everyone to enjoy the taste we are putting out.”