Food trucks are a common characteristic when visiting a brewery, varying in different fares such as Mexican food, Asian cuisine, you can even find brewery patrons grubbing on fresh pizza. Each truck has a staple specialty and target certain demographics.
At the Street Food Institute (SFI), they provide hands on training for people to learn how to run food trucks. A non-profit organization that has developed a partnership with Central New Mexico Community College, SFI gives a curriculum that provides food facilities to students of CNM and to the general public.
Lead instructor of SFI, Julian Griego, has a deep background in the culinary arts graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada leading to work in fine dining. As a chef in New Mexico Griego has helped student achieve their passion working in the food truck industry.
“The vision for this program was to teach people to be able to create jobs for themselves, be their own boss and learning about entrepreneurship through food,” Griego said. “We have been around for six years, with a strong focus in helping aspiring chefs to create opportunities for their future in food.”
The SFI program is taught in two different ways, one being in tandem with CNM’s culinary arts program where students learn the necessities of cooking. SFI focuses primarily on what student need to know on the business side of food industry. SFI focuses on getting permits and licenses along with marketing to specific demographics and financing.
“We have focused a lot on menu and recipe development, where the students come in with types of food they want to create or replicate... then (they) spend time in recipe testing,” Griego said.
Griego said after developing a recipe, the students analyze the cost of producing the product, something he said has a hand in failing small businesses.
“During the recipe testing we are not only trying to see if the product is viable in the market, but we are looking at cost analysis," Griego said. "We have learned that the small businesses that have failed don't do proper cost analysis.”
SFI also does catering, bakery focused foods and small cafe. Students come into SFI with an idea, where they explore different revenue opportunities to make their business as profitable as they can. SFI allows their students to come in with an idea for a small business, and the institute helps them shape that idea into a profitable future business.
Griego acknowledged one of his students, Katia Rosas, a chef of true traditional Costa Rican food.
"She makes these tamales that are just incredible, some of the best I’ve ever had,” Griego said. “She didn't plan on getting into the food business, it just so happened that she had a product that was worth selling, and now has her own spot.”
SFI plans on expanding and reaching out to the community. Griego said that they are planning to develop a cafe in the nearby future which is available to the general public, that will include classes for the public as well. SFI food trucks can be found around New Mexico such as Marble Brewery, UNM Science and Technology Park and the UNM Hospital.
Cade Guerrero is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CadeGuerrero.