It sounds like the set-up to a heartwarming joke, but hear us out: What do you get when a firefighter with a background in food science decides to open a food truck?
Pretty Great Cheesecake. Full stop.
In 2018, husband and wife team Kurt Anderson and Carrie Paetow began selling little cheesecakes with big flavor from a bright blue food truck. Anderson is the aforementioned firefighter who, when not charging into Chaska’s burning buildings with a fire hose slung over his shoulder and a graduate degree in Food Science from U.W. Stout tucked in his pocket, is the full-time baker behind PGC. Paetow works full-time in public relations, and provides non-baking guidance for the family business.
Anderson says that firefighting lets him “fulfill [his] inner five year old,” but the satisfaction of watching a customer’s eyes roll back in their head after taking a bite of his light, airy cheesecakes is unmatched.
That degree in food science means big flavors, well executed, are the heart of PGC’s menu. In fact, just about the only thing they don’t have is plain, New York-style. “I’m not into it,” says Anderson. “There’s nothing wrong with a plain cheesecake, it’s just not my style.”
Having tried several of PGC’s offerings – Key Lime was a standout among a field of Apple Crisp, Banana Creme, and Red Velvet – that purring, eye-roll reaction Anderson mentioned is genuine.
Lucky for cheese(cake)heads, PGC isn’t a summertime-only affair.
Of course, during the warmer months, PGC is everywhere. Last year they trucked up to busy lunch hours, apple orchards, and even a festival held by the St. Paul Dairy Association, where diary-centric trucks paired with farmers lined Rice Park. Anderson recalls that event was particularly cool, since he got to meet farmers who, “are out there every day working really hard so we can just go to the store and buy cream cheese.”
But even in these cold months, Anderson is still baking away in the truck. “It’s parked in our driveway right now. People place orders for full, nine-inch cheesecakes that are between four-and-a-half and five pounds,” he explains. “They order those through our website and then I just make it in the truck and they come to our residence in Chaska to pick it up.”
Rather than having a mentality of scarcity as their business grows, Anderson and Paetow are constantly asking themselves how they can best share resources to benefit the community –especially as access to food access is such a dominant issue. Even when donating money isn’t an option, “we’re happy to donate our time and skills,” says Paetow, who beams discussing a future docket of volunteer work stretching months to come, including events at the Ronald McDonald House and more.
As Minnesota creeps toward spring, keep up with Pretty Great Cheesecake’s moves via their website and Facebook, and expect the truck to hit the streets again on May 2, in time for the Food Truck Festival.