MONCTON – Pizza on naan, poutine with Asian meats and sauces, quesadilla with Indian fillings. Those are just a few of the offerings from NBCC’s culinary and hospitality students who will be serving up their creative food truck concepts to the public February 24-28 for the fourth annual Street Food Challenge.
The 46 students across eight teams will also sell various samosas, grilled cheese sandwiches, authentic Mexican tacos, and other food items as part of their business venture course.
“We challenge our students to create a business concept and they create a whole business plan, marketing plan, social media platform, print materials like posters and pamphlets and menus,” said instructor Jason Blonde.
“They have only eight weeks from the beginning of January to the end of February to develop a food truck kind of street food…and serve as many people as they can.”
The students will take over the Moncton campus’ cafeteria and kitchen for the week, and serve menu items ranging between $5 to $12 in price in each of their stations. They’re sponsored by McCain Food Service this year and must choose one of the company’s 150 products to feature on their menu for the week.
The public will get to taste their food during lunch, which will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day during the Street Food Challenge week.
Each year, the event donates the proceeds to charity, as well as support the campus food bank and field trips for culinary and hospitality students. This year’s charity of choice is Youth Impact Jeunesse.
The business ventures course has grown quickly, Blonde said. In its first year, only 16 students participated in the Street Food Challenge. That number has expanded, especially since the course now covers not just the culinary program, but also the hotel and restaurant management program.
“We wanted a way for the students in both programs to kind of work together and develop something. So the food truck concept kind of lent itself well to them both working together but also developing an actual business concept,” Blonde said.
The Street Food Challenge serves as a market test for the business ideas students have developed in the course.
“We always wanted the business ventures course to be close to reality as much as possible. It’s hard to evaluate if a business plan really works without actually running the business,” Blonde said.
“This gives you the experience to see how making plans actually pay off, especially with a fast pace. After day one, they can quickly look at their business plan and say, ‘hey, this works, this didn’t, let’s make adjustments.’ ”
Blonde says a few of the past students are looking into developing a real business, but none have come to fruition yet.
“Most of our graduates are still at a point where they’re still working at restaurants, working their way up. None of them have opened their own yet.”