West Va. college using food truck as mobile lab for students

Photo credit: Eglin Air Force Base
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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (The Journal) — Blue Ridge Community and Technical College’s Culinary Arts program is hopping on cooking trends with the purchase of a new food truck.

The truck will be used as a mobile laboratory where students will have line orders and cook for paying customers, said Brandon Michael, food truck instructor.

“We’re going to be using it for instruction,” he said.

Designed by Michael and Joe Bicket, director of facilities, the food truck has a fryers, steamed tables, refrigerators, freezers, a sandwich and salad prep station, a 24-inch flat-top grill, a ventilation system and a microwave, he said.

“It’s all new and shiny, so that’s really nice,” said Miriam Conroy, department chair of culinary arts. “We had to design for what we’re going to be cooking. We knew we were going to have hot items there. We had to make sure that when we were putting it together,we were getting the kind of equipment that students were going to utilize.”

The truck will be used as a marketing tool for the culinary arts program and other programs at Blue Ridge CTC, Michael said.

“We’ll be going around downtown to local businesses, events, fairs — stuff like that,” he said. “We’re getting our students used to the restaurant world.”

Blue Ridge CTC received the truck in December and plans to incorporate it into culinary arts classes by April, Michael said.

“We had it built for us in New Jersey,” he said. “They sent it down to us about two months ago. We’re working on getting the inspection and everything and having it fully operational.”

The truck will be used for the culinary arts program’s catering class, Michael said.

“We’ll be going around and serving a high volume of people, especially if you go to the fairs and local business partners like Procter & Gamble,” he said. “There will be a lot of people at once, so it will be a really good environment for the students to get out there.”

The culinary arts program is sending a survey out to students to help choose what the truck’s menu will be, Michael said.

“I expect we’ll do smoked items, fresh baked cookies and any kind of dessert you can think of,” he said. “Signature sandwiches and salads. We’ll probably have a signature drink, especially in the summertime. Something that people can come back and drink.”

The truck will also be brought to local high schools, Michael said.

“The high school will be more for marketing the college,” Conroy said. “That would be the focus of that — it would be to introduce the high school students to the college through the food truck.”

Owning a food truck is something the culinary arts has been working on for awhile, Conroy said.

“It’s been a trend within the industry,” she said. “The investment in something like this is huge.”

The proceeds from items sold at the food truck will go toward the culinary arts program, Michael said.

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