NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The newest food truck on Stephen F. Austin State University campus isn’t necessarily meant to feed the students; however, it is teaching them a thing or two about the hospitality industry.
Lumberjack Express is the new mobile food lab will be utilized for student learning on campus within the university’s hospitality administration bachelor’s degree.
“We’ll have hospitality students, dietetic students, culinary students, all utilizing the truck starting this semester," said Todd Barrios, chef instructor at SFA.
The mobile food lab is stocked with all of the basics you would find in a professional cook or hospitality setting: a deep freeze, prep place stations. a refrigerator, stoves and ovens, a flat-top and gas grill, food warmers, and other tools students will need.
What makes the truck unique for students is that the interior is also equipped with several cameras that will allow customers to watch the students preparing their food live.
“We can tie into the outside TV, so we can actually do cooking demonstrations,” showed Barrios.
“It’s a learning experience for us, it’s a learning experience for them, and they can just see how things work here; how we move, how we’re a team,” said Savannah Holbrook, hospitality administration major at SFA.
On top of that, Chef Barrios is also monitoring students through the same cameras, offering critiques and advice.
The $200,000 budgeted item is well worth the lessons learned say professors who first discovered the concept at a National Restaurant Show in Chicago.
" We saw one and said we need this for our program,” explained Chay Runnels, associate professor of hospitality administration. “This is really about transformational experiences for our students. It's a learning laboratory.”
By graduation students will be exposed to a unique restaurant concept, menus, and hospitality marketing trends. Also, customer service skills are developed for fast paced demands found in any job.
"Society is moving really fast and things are becoming more fast-paced and people are always on the go," said Cameron Pike, a travel and tourism student.
“We’re going after the fast casual experience. As soon as the order is up, we’re hoping within five to eight minutes your food is ready,” shared Barrios.
A soft opening will come each Tuesday and Thursday outside the hospitality administration building beginning February 26th when SFA’S Culinary Cafe operates.
For more information about the Lumberjack Express, and maybe even get a taste of some of the food inside, keep an eye out for the Lumberjack Express website that schools officials said was in the works.