by Mike Knaak
There’s more to running a food truck than just what’s cooking. Sartell High School’s culinary arts students are learning how much more.
Teacher Joseph Vanek led students through not only menu planning, but marketing, budgeting and hiring employees.
Before the coronavirus pandemic upset the school schedule, the students’ efforts were to end with a Food Truck Challenge event Thursday, March 19, with 50 or so judges “buying” the food.
The class started with market research followed by a “shark tank” pitch that included menu ideas and price ranges. Each truck team needed to come up with five menu items and five drink items as well as a name for their truck.
Next each group applied for a bank loan taking into account the truck, food and equipment costs.
Marketing included designing and building a model truck, logo, menu, advertising and market overview research. Students were also challenged to consider how to hire employees, their job descriptions, pay and supervision.
Junior Amber Teer and her group produced a video based on the opening credits of the 1970s TV show “The Brady Bunch” to promote their food truck The Brunchy Bunch.
“I got the idea while brainstorming with the rest of my group and they helped me tape and record the videos we needed and from there I just looked up a few YoutTube tutorials because I never really used iMovie,” Teer said.
Before the food shutdown, the teams also planned a shopping trip to Coborn’s to buy food for the challenge where the judges would be given fake money to buy the food. The food truck with the most profit would be the winner.
“Unfortunately we were unable to actually make our foods for people to try and have people see all the work we had done over a few weeks but it was definitely a good experience and it was fun to learn more about what goes into making a successful food truck,” Teer said.
There were 26 students in the nine-week class, which met in the culinary lab, a window-lined kitchen and workspace in the middle of Sartell High School. Students passing to classes and working in the commons can keep an eye on what’s cooking.
“I enjoyed everything about the class,” said Cali Keller, a senior. “We cooked about three times a week, we also cooked a wide variety of things from pasta to cookies. I learned so many things about food safety, and cooking in general.”
Vanek said two types of students enroll in the class. One group is looking to learn cooking to use in their everyday life. Others want to learn about the industry and what it’s like to work in a restaurant.
“I took this class because I heard it was a really fun class and that Mr. Vanek was a really fun teacher,” Keller said.
“I enrolled in this class because I have always had an interest in cooking and baking and a lot of my friends really enjoyed this class so I decided it would be a good opportunity to practice and learn some new things,” Teer said. “What I liked most about the class was definitely Mr. Vanek … because he always found very fun and interesting recipes and activities for us to do that helped us relate to what we were learning.”