GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A local food trailer is bringing a beloved French-Canadian dish to the region: Poutine.

James Valliere, food manager of Rock City Group, sat down with News Channel 11 to discuss what the famous combination of fries, cheese curds and gravy means to him.

“I have not found anywhere in the south where poutine exists,” Valliere said. “So I figured, why not give it a shot and give something a little bit different to the southerners?”

Growing up as an Italian-American in the French-Canadian communities of northern New Hampshire, Valliere was exposed to his fair share of food cultures.

“I was around mom all the time, and she was doing her thing,” Valliere said. “Literally sitting at a table of 20-30 Italians during the holidays so it was very interesting and fun.”

Poutine is best described as comfort food, consisting of white cheddar cheese curds on a bed of fries. Smother that in a chicken-based brown gravy and you have traditional Canadian poutine.

“What makes the difference is the cheddar curd cheese,” Valliere said. “It should snap when you bite into it, they call it squeaky cheese actually.”

That squeak is key, Valliere said. You can’t just get it anywhere.

“My first order of cheese curds was overnighted to me,” Valliere said. “So I can pretty much get it from the northern source if you want to call it that. Getting the good stuff right from the source.”

On top of that, Valliere prepares a combination of beef and poultry gravy to offer a unique flavor. The trailer’s menu also offers Italian subs, burgers and soups.

Valliere has experience with much larger kitchens than the space you’d find in the Greeneville-based trailer. As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, he took his culinary knowledge to the high seas.

“When I went into the U.S. Navy, everybody does a little mess duty on mess deck where you eat,” Valliere said. “So everything started there for me as far as doing big outtake, a lot of volume.”

As a transplant to the area, Valliere said he was impressed with what he found here.

“I arrived here in Greeneville in late June, and it’s been a treat since I’ve been here,” Valliere said. “It’s very nice here. This is an up-and-coming area.”

The trailer is also planned to complement the upcoming Rock City Tap and Lounge, a brick-and-mortar location coming to College Street. With local ciders and beers on tap, a hearty bowl of poutine is sure to warm up visitors.