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.”

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

Ideas and Innovation
business pamphlet fair show

As we struggle to recruit and retain millennials, we had our current millennial employees invite friends who don’t work for our organization to a Q&A session where we find out why our organization is or isn’t appealing to them, and what they are looking for in an employer. I recommend doing this off-site in a casual environment so you can get honest and open feedback that could be useful for better marketing.

Menu Development
pho bowl

Achieving authenticity can be tricky. Late last year, Oberlin College landed in the news when students protested the way dining services at the Ohio school was botching ethnic food, serving up inauthentic versions of Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. It’s a challenge other operators are confronting, too, often tapping staff and patrons for inspiration.

At 260-bed Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite, Executive Chef Bradley Czajka, himself of Polish-Ukrainian descent, started Global Stations as a way to recognize the diversity of cultures at the hospital. “We have such an...

FSD Resources