Food truck brings diverse menu to UC Riverside

Jan. 6—The Culinary Chameleon, the University of California, Riverside’s new 32-foot food truck, will bring an always-changing menu option to campus beginning in mid-January, according to a university press release.

The truck’s name and branding reflect the department’s wish for the menu to change regularly.

“Anyone who follows food trucks knows that they are trendy and edgy. We wanted our truck to have an identity that wouldn’t change, even when the menu changed,” Cheryl Garner, executive director of dining services, said in the release. “We landed on the chameleon with input from students and staff because a chameleon changes it colors depending on where it lives—much the same as we will change our menu based on seasons, trends, times and customer feedback.”

The truck’s debut menu will feature some items from the department’s now-closed Taco Fresco, which served street tacos and quesadillas. The truck features commercial kitchen equipment that will allow it to conduct 95 to 100 transactions per hour. According to the release, the truck cost about $250,000. Despite the truck’s many features, David Henry, director of Dining Services, says the truck will still be a challenge to operate.

“Even though it is a full kitchen to a large degree, it’s still a truck.” Henry said in the release. “The limitations we have are storage and, during peak periods, maybe speed of service. And of course everything has to be sealed and closed down when we move—we don’t want things flying around inside.”

The Culinary Chameleon will have a Facebook page and Twitter account, which will allow customers to learn about specials, promotions and where the truck will be parked. The truck will accept cash, credit cards, debit cards and campus Bear Bucks.

“Food trucks allow us to lower our overall investment and maximize our versatility and location by going where the customer is, when they are there,” Garner said in the release. “We hope to service portions of our campus which are currently under-penetrated with restaurants.”

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We started a panel discussion with our cooks and FSD to give residents a chance to tour our kitchen (during nonproduction hours), ask questions and share insight on how we can improve. The residents love the casual time with our staff. We have seen complaints and problems diminish greatly, and have found that most times the client is lonely and just wants someone to show them some time and attention.

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