Anatomy of a Food Truck, University of California, Riverside

Department wanted equipment that would be flexible if the menu changed.

What makes a successful food truck? FSD spoke to Gustavo Plascencia, general manager of safety, sustainability and projects for Dining Services at the University of California, Riverside, about his department's food truck, the Culinary Chameleon. Plascencia walked FSD through the thinking and practicalities behind each element of the truck and how those elements make it a success.

Snapshots, UCR, Food Truck, full view
The Culinary Chameleon came to UCR's campus in January and has been serving hungry students Mexican favorites ever since. Plascencia says a lot of research went into it deciding what the department needed to make the truck happen.

"It turned out our county is one of only two counties in the state of California that do not allow food trucks," Plascencia says. "However, we are a state entity so we follow the state food code that does allow food trucks, so that’s what allowed us to have a truck on campus even though no other trucks are allowed in the county."

Pages

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

FSD Resources