With a nod to Carly Simon and Heinz ketchup, the anticipation was certainly justifiable for the Culinary Arts Department staff and students from the East Providence High School Career and Tech Center …
With a nod to Carly Simon and Heinz ketchup, the anticipation was certainly justifiable for the Culinary Arts Department staff and students from the East Providence High School Career and Tech Center when it came to the long-awaited receipt of a food truck, "Townie Tailgate," in recent weeks.
Superintendent Dr. Sandra Forand announced way back in late 2022 EPCTC Culinary had been included in a program created by the Rhode Island Department Education, "Menu for Success."
The district was supposed to receive the truck by sometime in the summer of 2023, but according to EPCTC Director Bob Hanlon manufacturing and supply chain issues pushed the date back until earlier this month on Thursday, Feb. 1.
"It was well worth the wait," Hanlon said of the box-style vehicle. "The truck is brand new with state of the art equipment. It has a generator, six-burner propane cooktop, spacious griddle, multiple refrigeration units, top of the line safety features, an awning for shade during service, exterior lighting for night time service and a striking exterior wrap created by our Graphics Communications Program students."
Though obviously geared towards the Culinary Department, the entirety of the EPCTC will have or has had a hand in getting it ready and keeping it in service.
As Hanlon noted, Graphics pupils under the guidance of instructor Delia Nelson imagined the wrap featuring school mascot "Joe Townie." The Automotive, Construction and Electrical Departments, in addition, will maintain the vehicle and are expected capable of building any accessories needed to operate it in the future.
Hanlon continued, saying there remains work to do to get the truck up and running, like the installation of carbon monoxide detectors expected to be done by CTC Electrical students, getting an inspection by the state Fire Marshal's Office, obtaining a license to operate the truck from the Rhode Island Department of Health as well as the training of students on how to operate the vehicle.
With that in mind, Culinary Department Chefs Bill Walker and Marie-Claire McKillip have long been considering how they'll use the truck to teach their students, mainly as a supplement to their daily instruction in the similarly state-of-the-art kitchen inside the still relatively new EPHS.
On an aside, McKillip said the "Townie Tailgate" moniker came about from brainstorming sessions between her, Walker and Hanlon.
Said Walker, "We'll collaborate with our students to design menus, themes and systems for executing those menus. We'll be participating in an annual food truck event with all the other high schools each year in the spring. We'll be exposing our students to opportunities in entrepreneurship and planning along with business and financial planning."
When ready, the plan is for the truck to regularly appear at school-related events like sports as well as take up a weekly spot at City Hall. It will also be part of a new seasonal recess offering from Culinary.
"We'll be utilizing the truck in the upcoming months to offer concessions at sporting events like baseball and softball.
"Additionally, we're planning to offer a six-week summer program for existing culinary students called 'Food Truck Entrepreneurship' where students will design, plan and execute a different menu each week which they will promote and sell at East Providence City Hall each Friday. It’s a great opportunity for our students to get real world small business experience while utilizing their culinary skills."
Once again, that plan envisions including students from other CTC programs. Walker expects Graphics students to also provide point of sale, marketing materials, signage, menus, etc., Electrical Technology students to install additional equipment like the cash register, and hopefully a digital menu board and for Construction to help design any storage and service equipment and help with minor repairs.
"Overall it’s going to be a group effort by the whole CTC. To that end, Chef McKillip and I like to think of it as all of ours, not just the Culinary Arts students," Walker added.