Melinda Reese is bringing coastal comfort food to Austin.
By Allie Justis, Phooto by Melinda Reese
Melinda Reese brought some much-needed Gulf Coast cuisine to Austin this past year when she co-founded the Huckleberry food truck back in June 2020. For Reese, the road was rocky at times. But at the heart of it, her love for the food she grew up with made her determined to push through so that Austinites would learn to love coastal comfort food as she does.
“Our concept for the food truck was bringing Gulf Coast-inspired comfort food to Austin,” says Reese. “We grew up fishing and basically having our food as fresh as you could get it. So really, it was just a matter of asking ourselves, ‘Hey, why don’t we bring this nostalgic aspect of coastal foods into our community as well?’”
Starting a new food truck was a difficult task for the Huckleberry Hospitality team in the midst of the pandemic; however, the Austin community showed up to support during every step of the process, leaving Reese speechless every time.
“We are just beyond grateful at this point,” says Reese. “We stood on the shoulders of that support the Austin community gave us, and those individuals who would come out in the beginning and those little bits of affirmation from people was the main thing that got us through.”
For Reese, this food truck is like a love letter to all of her favorite moments as a kid living back on the coast in Florida. The nostalgia of the flavors, coupled with her passion for sustainable, eco-friendly cooking has truly made this food truck a unique experience for people who love coastal cooking.
“In the bay, my brothers, sisters and I would go down to the water and catch blue crabs during the day,” Reese recalls. “Then in the evenings my mother would make us these lettuce wraps with rice and cucumbers, and we’d mix and match to have all sorts of different varieties. I tried it with steak or chicken,” she continues. “But ultimately the blue crab version is my favorite because it’s a nostalgic blend of everything that I grew up with as a kid.”
Blue Crab Lettuce Wraps
½ lb. blue crab meat, picked
½ celery stalk, finely diced
¼ sweet onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove
¼ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
$frac14; cup parsley
½ lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 head living butter lettuce, picked and washed
½ lb. crab mixture
1 large avocado, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup red onion, sliced
1 cilantro bunch, chopped
1 serrano pepper, sliced (optional)
1 lime, quartered
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup crema
¼ cup Crystal Hot Sauce
- In a small bowl, gently mix all the ingredients of the crab mixture together.
- Take one spoonful of the crab mixture and spread it out in a lettuce leaf.
- Add one slice of avocado and dress it with the assorted vegetables to your liking, and add the serranos for heat as you need.
- Finish with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lime.
NOTE: To add a kick to your dish, mix sauce ingredients together and serve alongside.