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Food truck driven by LBCC students serves banh mi at Long Beach Grand Prix – Pasadena Star News

Vaseline 2 months ago

For the first time, Long Beach City College’s culinary arts program had a food truck operated by students at the 2024 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Students experienced and learned how to drive and operate a food truck. (Photo by Christina Merino, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Food truck driving at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach has something for everyone – including, if you’re an LBCC culinary arts student, work experience.

That’s right, Long Beach City College’s culinary arts program debuted its food truck at the Grand Prix this week, featuring banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich typically served on a baguette. It’s a relatively simple dish for students to make, but it’s also a different type of dish than what’s typically offered at festival-style events.

“We just wanted to make something simple so the students can experience what it’s like to actually work on a food truck,” said Alex Lopez, a former student in LBCC’s culinary program who now helps teach classes. “It also gets them used to working with people, especially in a small space, and interacting with customers.”

Long Beach City College offers multiple career technical education programs that provide students with academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary for careers such as hospitality management and, of course, culinary arts.

The concept of the food truck was to allow students in LBCC’s culinary program to gain real work experience. But turning that idea into reality was no easy task. It took Chef Haley Nguyen, culinary arts department head at LBCC, four years to get the idea going, with the help of other LBCC faculty and staff.

“We have an amazing program at Long Beach City College, from hospitality to culinary, and it feels great to make this concept a reality,” Juan Herrera, an LBCC employee who helped mentor the students this weekend and ensured that the truck was running smoothly, said on Saturday afternoon, April 20. “It is also an opportunity to promote our CTE programs.”

Former students from LBCC’s culinary program came to the truck this weekend, bought a sandwich and shared with current students what their journey has been like since completing the program, Herrera said. This has further encouraged the students who volunteer at the truck, he said.

“I was able to learn about food trucks and that growing business and it was just cool to be at this event as well and see the races,” said Adam Maley, an LBCC student in the hospitality management program. “It’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The students made banh mi with three protein choices: pork, chicken or vegetarian. The protein is served on fresh baguette that the students have also baked.

“We felt we needed to do something different,” said Lopez, who will graduate from the culinary arts program in 2022, “because everyone is making burgers and hot dogs and we wanted to offer something refreshing.”

Customers were impressed with how fast the service was and how well the food was replenished. They also thought the student-run food truck was an interesting concept.

“It’s tasty and very tasty,” said 10-year-old Jordan Chu of Redlands.

“As a 10-year-old, that means a lot,” said his mother, Vanessa Vargas.

“We normally love these sandwiches and we walked in and my husband said we had to get some,” Vargas added. “They looked delicious and we are excited to try them. It’s great that the students are making them.”