By GENE PATTERSON6 News Anchor/Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's hard to miss the Tootsie Truck. With its bright colors and iconic lady design, Tootsie Truck has been making the rounds of Knoxville for the past five months.
"It's awesome. It's fresh. It's great," raved customer Lori McKelvy.
"They make it with love. Fresh-made ingredients from scratch," said Archer Bagley.
Rebecca Saldivar works the front of the house, or rather, truck. She's the creative force behind Tootsie Truck.
Inside is Daniel, the chef. The two met in 2008. They like to say it was love at first bite.
"I've always had a passion for great food," Rebecca said.
And it turns out Rebecca had a passion for Daniel, too. The couple married in 2009 and began a catering business - Savor Catering.
Last year, they took their business to a new level, building a full, commercial kitchen - on wheels.
"We were both unemployed at the end of last year and after two years of our catering business, it was the kick in the pants we needed to start this up," she said.
The Saldivars take pride in serving fresh, made-from-scratch foods. They're local and they buy local.
"We believe in what we do and we want to give people a chance to do what they do," said Daniel.
"When you have produce that's ten miles away versus 10,000 or 2,000 miles, it's just better for the environment, better for the community, 'cause it keeps the money in the community," Rebecca said.
When 6 News visited, the menu featured shrimp gumbo, beef bourgeon and pork belly.
Daniel whipped up some pork belly for us, which if you haven't tried it, is delicious.
"You slow cook it. The flavors get in the fat," he said.
He added turnips and then spinach and put it all on top of rice.
We also tried the gumbo and the beef, and it was all good.
The Saldivars hope one day to expand to a sit-down restaurant, but for now the Tootsie Truck is their dream job.
And if you're wondering where they got the name, Rebecca has the answer.
"Tootsie is an old familiar name that I've enjoyed for many years. It was my grandmother's nickname," she said. "It's just an old classic way of doing things. That what it represents and what we are."
And that is very much the Spirit of East Tennessee.
To find out where the Tootsie Truck will be next, visit their website.
If you know someone who you believe is an example of the Spirit of East Tennessee, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville, Tennessee 37917