By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
In 2017, Bend resident Shirley Ray gave a generous donation to the COCC Cascade Culinary Institute.
Leaders of the program decided to use the money to fund an idea they’d had for a while: a food truck.
“The latest trend that’s going on in culinary arts is just this, a mobile food business,” said Thor Erickson, chef instructor at the COCC Culinary Institute. “A lot of our students want to run that type of business when they graduate our programs.”
One month ago, the Culinary Institute officially opened their new food truck for lessons.
“So I was super excited and I think all the students were when we found out we were getting a food truck because it’s part of the industry,” said Barclay Losse, a second-year culinary student.
Losse likes the flexibility a food truck provides.
“I’d like to own one. I think it’s an opportunity to be mobile,” he said. “Clearly, you can go to different events and cater to different events and you can do different things a restaurant can’t do.”
And he’s not the only student interested.
“Just the past couple years of being here, I’ve definitely heard the new students say it’s what they want to do,” said Tim Pirisky, a second-year culinary student. “Most of the bakers want to have a bakery and most of the culinary students want to have a food truck.”
The vehicle is fully outfitted just like the food trucks you see around town.
“We have the whole set up of the oven, flat top grill, two burner, and a regular grill as well.” Pirisky said.
Students will learn about budgeting, operation, marketing, and navigating health code regulations.
Erickson said the school is currently only using the food truck, which they named “Shirley Ray,” for educational purposes, but they plan to eventually get it out to public events.
For many students, this is the first step in what could be a lifelong career.
“The food truck craze is here, so this was needed,” Losse said.